The Hawks have had some recent success against the NBA’s best team this season, and they were looking to build off of a couple of offensive explosions against that team at home on Tuesday night.
The Hawks came out and played nice against the league’s best defense, but things would stall, and the Hawks could only muster up 15 points in the first quarter. Call it bad offense, call it good defense, or call it whatever you want, but the first quarter was ugly, and it set the tone for what was to come in this one.
Mike Scott, who has played well this season, scored 15 points off the bench to lead the birds, and that marked his 12th consecutive game with double-digits in the scoring department. Scott was one of the few bright spots for the Hawks, as the starters combined for an abysmal 39 points, and were outscored 46-39 by the bench. Elton Brand was also a spark, as he scored 12 points and grabbed 7 rebounds off the bench in 20 minutes.
The Hawks were led by Jeff Teague late in the first half, and they went on a run to nab a one-point lead at the half. That was the last positive thing they would experience for quite some time. Atlanta scored just 12 points in the third quarter, and the Pacers looked dominant. They built up a double-digit lead, and all signs pointed to Indiana winning this one, and they were on track to snap a 12-game losing streak in Philips Arena (regular season).
Just like they have all season, the Hawks rallied, and the game would all of a sudden become a contest again. Atlanta trailed by as many as 16 in the final quarter, but they fought back and it was just a two-point game with little time left. The Pacers would then execute and hit free throws down the stretch, hanging on to win 89-85.
The aforementioned starters were so bad that none of the five players scored in double-digits, and All-Star Paul Millsap struggled. Millsap scored just seven points on 2 of 11 shooting. He did have 12 rebounds and 4 steals, though.
If there are any positives to take away from this one, it’s that the Hawks got a strong contribution from their bench, and they hung with the league’s best team without stellar play from the starters. You can direct credit to Mike Budenholzer for that, and he is putting in a nice bid for Coach of the Year.
The Hawks fall to 25-22, and are back in action on Wednesday against the Pelicans in New Orleans.