The Hawks train motors on while the Pacer train may have finally gone completely off the tracks.
Atlanta returned home for Game 3 and put away the Pacers in front of a sellout crowd 98-85 Thursday night.
The star of the show was young point guard Jeff Teague. In between transition dunks off of steals and circus three-pointers with no time left on the shot clock, he submitted a performance that nearly took the roof off of Philips Arena.
About that shot, Teague even said himself:
“I gave it the Jordan shrug because I thought it was going to be an air ball. It didn’t feel good coming off my hand, but once it went in I was pretty confident it was our night. It was a lucky shot, but we created our own luck by being aggressive and never giving up on ourselves”
Teague finished with 22 points and 10 assists. Paul Millsap also chipped in 14 points and 14 rebounds. But the story was the stifling and frustrating Hawks defense that has many in Pacers land seriously fearing a historic collapse of a once championship threat.
The big factor was the improved three point shooting from the Hawks in the second half. After going just 2-16 from beyond the arc in the first half, the home team lit up Indiana with a 10-16 mark in the second half. Among the punctuation marks was a Kyle Korver 4 point play. Korver finished with 20 points on just 9 shots and 6 rebounds.
The Pacers were led by Lance Stephenson, fresh off a recent report of he and Evan Turner getting into a physical fight just last week. He logged 21 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals but was visibly frustrated as the game slipped away in the last 3 minutes. The Pacers only shot 5-20 (25%) from three and just 37.6% from the field en route to a second loss in three games that was never really close in the fourth quarter.
As for the Hawks, they can virtually put the nail in the coffin on the series with a home win on Saturday in Game 4. Tip is at 2 PM ET.