The Hawks used a smothering defensive effort to flatten the Pacers in Atlanta 90-69. The 69 points were the fewest Indiana has scored in the regular season or postseason since 2006. It was the perfect statement after losing decisively twice in Indiana. In front of an announced capacity attendence, the Hawks brought their way back into this series and left no question about the winner tonight.
The Pacers seemed to settle for fall away jumpers and contested threes tonight. Take a look at the shot chart below. It’s pretty obvious that Indiana is not a great shotmaking team and they thrive on their defensive exploits, but 69 points simply will not get the job done. The Hawk bigs picked on Tyler Hansbrough in the post and routinely spun past him for layups and dunks. Atlanta only assisted on about half of made field goals and instead used their speed in isolation or pick and roll sets to create offense.
The Hawks forced 22 turnovers, which is the same amount of field goals they gave up. Most impressive, however, was the three point defense. The Hawks only gave up 4-25 shooting there (16%) for a team that shot a combined 16-40 (40%) in the first two games. No shot was left uncontested and it was clear the Pacers were very frustrated by the lack of execution throughout the entire game. Another good sign was that the Atlanta was able to get to the free throw line as much as the Pacers.
Unfortunately, they left a lot of points there by shooting a poor 57.1%. If this trend continues, it may be a deciding factor in a future loss. Still take the game for what it was. The Hawks told the nation that they are not going away quietly or without a fight. After giving up 220 points in the first two game, they found a way to undo the ugly losses in Indiana. The Hawks will look to knot up the series Monday.
Game Grades: Each player is given a grade on an A+ through F scale based upon their performance.
Jeff Teague: C+
Despite some shots not falling, Teague kept pushing the tempo and setting up others. Indiana simply could not keep up pace. He also stayed in front of George Hill for the entire game and harassed him in to a 1-8 night from the field.
Devin Harris: C+
Ditto for Devin. He played 39 minutes but generally didn’t do a whole lot of anything. Still, despite giving up size to the Pacers shooting guards, he held his own on the defensive end.
Josh Smith: B-
Josh was pretty quiet for the most part, other than a couple of roof rattling dunks. He got into foul trouble in the second half and most of the offense was being ran through Al Horford anyway. He still found a way to stuff the stat box with 14 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals.
Al Horford: A
What can you say about this fantastic performance? Horford has been the Hawks best player all night long and with the team starting a huge 3 games to none deficit, Al took control of the game and left no doubt about the result. He led both teams with 26 points and 16 rebounds and bullied the likes of Tyler Hansbrough and David West in the post.
Anthony Tolliver: C
He didn’t do much other than stretch the floor offensively. Tolliver hit a couple of timely three pointers to help boost the sometimes stagnant Hawks offense.
Kyle Korver: C+
Korver still hasn’t found an ability to get open this series, which mostly speaks to the stout defensive ability of the opponent. Still, he along with the others made for a tough night shooting the ball for the Pacer wings.
Ivan Johnson: B-
Ivan was everywhere: flying in for offensive rebounds, diving on the ground for loose ball or in the referees’ grills after a bad call. You have to admire the guy’s never ending hustle.
Johan Petro: B-
Last game, he had one mission: to use his allotment of 6 personal fouls. He came close, stopping one shy of getting disqualified in only 14 minutes of play. This game he repeated that effort but also made himself available for a couple of put back buckets. No complaints here.
Larry Drew: A
Larry Drew pushed all the right buttons in the time between Game 2 and Game 3. I have no idea what was said or done in the locker room in that time period but clearly it left a mark on the players. He started Johan Petro to add some size to the starting lineup and removed Dahntay Jones and DeShawn Stevenson from the rotation. Even so, the Hawks had a masterful gameplan to allow the Pacers to shoot themselves out of the game. 27% shooting for Indiana is no accident. Drew came under fire for some of his foul trouble treatment but he allowed Al Horford to go a strong 40 minutes until garbage time. Even with a microscope, it will be impossible to criticize his decisions tonight.
Indiana Pacers: F
All of Atlanta thanks you for missing your flight down to Hartsfield Jackson. There’s no way they repeat this putrid performance but we will enjoy it while it lasts. Not much to say here, other than clearly Vogel’s team failed to put their foot on the throat of the Hawks when they had the chance. They have get into the right mental state for Game 4 lest they allow the Hawks to tie up the series heading back to Indiana.