Hawks vs Pacers: Full Game Report

Al Horford, Korver and Zaza Pachulia celbrating on the court. Pachulia came off the bench with a double-double; 17 points and 14 boards. (Scott Cunningham/NBA/Getty Images)

Quick Facts

Who?: Atlanta Hawks (19-9) vs Indiana Pacers (17-13)

What?: Hawks shoot past Pacers 109-100, win fourth straight

Where?: Philips Arena (Atlanta, GA)

When?: Friday, Dec. 28, 2012

How?: Total team effort, lights out shooting.

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Recap

The short-handed Atlanta Hawks took care off the visiting Indiana Pacers 109-100 Saturday night despite playing without three key players.

The face of the franchise Josh Smith was inactive tonight due to a hip flexor injury along with combo guard Devin Harris (sore left foot) and sharp-shooter Anthony Morrow (sore hip).

Atlanta native Lou Williams led the Hawks with 21 points and a career-high 12 assists in just his fourth start all season. Not so ironically, the Hawks are riding a four-game win streak.

Rookie 3-point assassin John Jenkins also set a career-high with 10 points in the game on four-of-six shooting overall. The first round draft pick from Vanderbilt University was 2-for-2 from long range.

Backup big man Zaza Pachulia stepped into the starting lineup tonight with Smith inactive and filled in admirably, posting a double-double performance with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Pachulia caused havic for the Pacers on both sides of the ball and finished the night shooting 7-for-11 (63.6%) overall.

Al Horford was fantastic going 10-for-13 from the field for 20 points to go along with six boards and six assists. Kyle Korver scored 16 points and was lights out from the perimeter hitting four-of-five 3-pointers in the game. Jeff Teague secured Atlanta’s win in the closing minutes by scoring eight of the Hawks’ final 12 points. Teague totaled 15 points, six assists and three rebounds — he scored 10 in the final four minutes of regulation.

The Pacers were leading 16-13 with 5:13 to play in the opening quarter and then the Hawks exploded on a 16-4 run as they started to knock down seemingly every shot they took en route to a 29-20 advantage by the 1:59 mark. Atlanta ended the first period up 33-26 as the team shot 66.7% from the field.

Indiana dwindled the deficit down to 40-37 after Brooklyn native Lance Stephenson set up Ian Mahinmi for a 18-ft bucket. However, they couldn’t come any closer in the second quarter as the Hawks took a 55-48 advantage into halftime.

Atlanta kept their foot on the gas coming out of the locker room and extended their lead to 80-73 by the end of the third quarter.

The Pacers seemed to be on the verge of mounting a comeback when Paul George’s conventional three-point play capped off an 18-8 spurt in the final period, bringing Indiana within three points, 91-88, at the 5:18 mark.

But the Pacers couldn’t get over the hump.

On the next possession, Horford hit a 17-footer to cool off Indiana’s run and Teague’s floater at the 2:53 mark put the Hawks up 101-90. Teague scored 10 of Atlanta’s final 16 points down the stretch to secure the victory.

David West led Indiana with a game-high 29 points in 32 minutes. Paul George had a solid game, narrowly missing a triple-double performace with 18 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. George Hill (15), Lance Stephenson (13) and Ian Mahinmi (13) were also in double figures.

The Indiana Pacers (17-13) head back home to host the Memphis Grizzlies (19-8) on Monday, Dec. 31, at 3:00 PM (ET).

The Atlanta Hawks (19-9) go on the road to face the Houston Rockets (16-14) on Monday, Dec. 31, at 7:00 PM (ET).

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Analysis

The Hawks tried out an original lineup without Josh Smith, with Lou inserted into the lineup as usual since the Bulls game, and Zaza and Al forming the front court. The answer was an offensive explosion and a 109-100 victory.

The Hawks came out guns ablaze, hitting two thirds of their shots in the first quarter including a Jenkins long bomb. Jenkins finished with 10 points, a career high, on 6 shots and essentially put in an application to join the rotation.

Al Horford regained the touch from midrange that helped him thrive in his All Star years and finished a precise 10-13. Horford and Zaza were just too much down low, combining for 37 points on 17-24 shooting and 20 rebounds. The Hawks held Roy Hibbert to goose eggs in the first half. Good news is he outdid himself in the second half by grabbing a solitary rebound in 21 minutes of play.

Lou Williams had 7 assists by the 9 minute mark of the second quarter and finished the first half with 9 assists which tied his career high. He dished out 9 assists twice in one week in early April 2010 with 76ers and earlier this December against Bobcats. He surpassed his career high in the third quarter en route to a 21 point and 12 assist outing.

The Hawks shot a crisp 61.5% including 5-9 from downtown in the first half, which was highest shooting percentage half of season. The Hawks finished 10-20 from beyond the arc, including 4-5 from Kyle Korver. Korver killed Indiana with his quick release and stifled Paul George and Gerald Green on defense to a degree.

Ivan Johnson intimidated his way to 6 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Johan Petro came in for possibly his most meaningful minutes of the season, hit two tough shots, and dished out 3 personal fouls.

David West could not be stopped whether it was Pachulia, Korver, or Horford guarding him. He finished 11-18 and hit his first two three pointers in the season for 29 points. Paul George also finished 2 assists and a rebound from a triple double. He took over the role of point forward and had more assists than all of the guards, Hill, Augustin and Stephenson.

In total, the offense looked like a fulfillment of what it was hyped to be preseason. The Hawks punished the lax Pacer defense with step back three pointers and drew Hibbert and Mahinmi out of the lane to open up the paint for Lou, Teague, and even the fearless Ivan. Scary to think this was all without Josh Smith, Devin Harris and Anthony Morrow.

The only downside to tonight was carelessness with the ball. The Hawks committed 16 turnovers, compared to 10 for the Pacers, and let the Pacers linger until the final horn. However, when you pick up a win without arguably the best player and two other rotation player over a top 4 Eastern team, there are few criticisms.

Next game is New Years Eve in Houston to get revenge on a Rockets team that handed the Hawks an opening night loss.

Game Balls:

1. Lou Williams: Lou Williams was a facilitator for Al and Zaza running the pick and roll to perfection. They put in tons of easy buckets and Lou looked like a natural point guard, despite claiming to want to play off guard primarily. Did I mention he led the Hawks in scoring with 21 on 17 shots?

2. Al Horford: Horford was near automatic tonight. He challenged David West to step out to 18 feet to defend his jumper but West failed the test. He finished with 20 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists.

3. Zaza Pachulia: Zaza Pachulia brought the energy from the tipoff and prove himself a lot more mobile than his counterparts in blue. He finished with 17 points on 7-11 shooting and cleaned up on the glass, outrebounding the Pacer front court by himself.

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Game Leaders

Minutes: Jeff Teague (41)

Points: David west (29)

Rebounds: Zaza Pachulia (14)

Assists: Lou Williams (12)

Steals: Ivan Johnson (3)

Blocks: Ian Mahinmi (3)

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Game Grades

Jeff Teague: B

He’s had better games and he’s certainly had worse. But he continues to step up as a closer for the Hawks down the stretch, which is pretty invaluable no matter how you slice his stats. He finished with 15 points and 6 assists in 40 minutes.

Lou Williams: A+

Lou could just as easily grab player of the game depending on what you value more. He finished with a career-high 12 assists as well as a game-high 21 points. He continues to be a volume shooter, but he’s looking increasingly confident within the flow of the offense.

Kyle Korver: B+

Korver finished with 16 points, shooting 5-10 from the field and 4-5 from deep. He also added two steals and countless hustle plays. He’s still not Bruce Bowen defensively, but he’s doing exactly what the Hawks need of him. And then some.

Al Horford: A

Horford started out of the gate on fire, connecting on his first six attempts. He finished shooting 10-13 for 20 points and 6 assists. His efficiency alone salvaged his night, even though his defense was suspect at times.

Zaza Pachulia: A+ (Player of the game)

It’s a hard to narrow down a top performer in such a solid team effort, but Zaza easily takes the cake. At least in my mind. He finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds, while holding Roy Hibbert scoreless. Fantastic game.

John Jenkins: B

“John Jenkins for three!” — Get accustomed to it Hawks fans, this kid is for real. He finished with 10 points on 4-6 shooting and knocked down both of his three-point attempts. He made some rookie mistakes, but the energy he brought was something that could warrant a boost in playing time in the foreseeable future.

DeShawn Stevenson: C

So I may have fibbed in the beginning of this article when I said no players performance was expendable. Stevenson’s was. He played 15 minutes and missed a field goal. That’s it. I was actually surprised looking back over the box scores that he even played that long. He didn’t hurt the team.. he just didn’t do much of anything.

Ivan Johnson: B+

Well, he fouled out of the game in 15 minutes. And it was amazing. He posted 6 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals and a block. All of them being equally entertaining to watch.

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Player of the Game

Lou Williams

Sweet Lou scored 21 points and tallied a career-high 12 assists in the 109-100 victory against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday. Since being inserted into the starting lineup for the injured Devin Harris four games ago, the Hawks are 4-0.

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Upcoming Match-Up

The Atlanta Hawks (19-9) go on the road to face the Houston Rockets (16-14) on Monday, Dec. 31, at 7:00 PM (ET).

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Topics: Atlanta Hawks, Indiana Pacers

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