Paul George poured in a game-high 26 points and David West added 17 as the Indiana Pacers coasted to an easy 108-98 home win against the reeling Atlanta Hawks, who have now lost six straight.
Brooklyn-born Lance Stephenson chipped in with 13 points for the first-place Pacers, along with seven assists and five rebounds, while Roy Hibbert (10) was also in double figures.
George and the Pacers started the game extremely hot as the star small forward hit his first six shots of the game, scoring 11 points in the opening six minutes en route to a 31-9 advantage after the first eight minutes of play.
The game was over right then and there.
Atlanta tried their best to dig themselves out of the huge hole and actually rallied in the second period, cutting the deficit to 52-49 after Kyle Korver drained a 3-ball with 1:01 left in the half, but Indiana scored the final five points of the quarter and took an eight-point edge into halftime.
The Pacers maintained the steady lead throughout the third quarter and increased the Hawks’ deficit to 12 points on Danny Granger’s buzzer-beater to end the period.
Indiana put the game away in the fourth when backup center Ian Mahinmi converted a three-point play after getting fouled on a ferocious slam dunk, followed by a Granger 3-pointer at the 7:30 mark to make it 101-82.
Atlanta scored garbage points down the stretch to make the final a “respectable” 10-point loss.
Korver led the depleted Hawks with 19 points, while backup combo guard Lou Williams added 18. Reserves Mike Scott (13), Cartier Martin (12), who got a spot-start at small forward for the injured DeMarre Carroll, and Shelvin Mack (11) were also in double figures.
Paul Millsap struggled mightily yet again against the kryptonite Pacers squad, finishing with seven points on 3-for-10 shooting. In three games vs. Indiana this season, Millsap is averaging 6.0 ppg on 6-for-31 (19.4%) shooting combined.
Atlanta has now lost the last six games in a row and will try to avoid making it seven straight as they have a quick turn-around Wednesday night at home against divisional foe Washington.