USA TODAY Sports
The Atlanta Hawks were without Josh Smith, but got big efforts from Al Horford, Zaza Pachulia, Lou Williams, and Jeff Teague to make up for his absence on their way to a 109-100 home victory over the Indiana Pacers.
The Hawks were short-handed going up against the streaking Pacers as Josh Smith (hip), Devin Harris (foot), and Anthony Morrow (hip) were all out due to injury. The rest of the Hawks stepped up to the challenge and were able to get a 109-100 home win over the Pacers who came in as winners of four in a row and seven of their last eight. Lou Williams led the way for the Hawks and recorded his first career double-double with 21 points and 12 assists (a career-high). Zaza Pachulia got the start in Smith's absence and was fantastic at both ends of the floor, scoring 17 points, pulling down 14 rebounds, and he limited (2011 All-Star) Roy Hibbert to zero points and one rebound.
Four other Hawks scored in double-figures on the night with Al Horford (20 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists), Jeff Teague (15 points, 6 assists), Kyle Korver (16 points), and, off the bench, John Jenkins (10 points) all putting forth good offensive efforts. The Hawks were extremely efficient, shooting 55% from the field and 50% from the three-point line. Atlanta had 26 assists on 44 made shots as they continue to be one of the best teams in the league at moving the ball and spreading out the scoring. Despite Indiana's length and size, Atlanta matched them on the boards as both teams had 36 rebounds (IND led 11-10 OR).
Indiana had an early 10-6 lead, but Atlanta took over from there and held the lead throughout the final three quarters. The Hawks stretched the lead out to as much as 18 in the third quarter, but, as has been the case all year, they let the Pacers make it close near the end. Indiana cut the Atlanta lead to three with five minutes to play, but Teague asserted himself down the stretch scoring 10 of his 15 points in the final four minutes of the game.
David West had a huge night for the Pacers (like he did in the first meeting), but his 29 points weren't enough to earn the Pacers a win. Paul George had a near triple-double with 18 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists, and George Hill added 15 points. Roy Hibbert had one block, one rebound, and zero points and, when added all together, he had less positives (2) than fouls (3). Hibbert's disappearing act kept the Pacers from ever breaking through despite forcing 17 Hawks turnovers and scoring 18 points off of those turnovers.
Ivan Johnson returned to the floor after suffering from a stomach virus for the past two days and was back to being Ivan, giving the Hawks great energy off the bench with six points, six rebounds, and three steals in 15 minutes of play before fouling out. Rookie John Jenkins set a career-high with 10 points and looked extremely confident in his game knocking down 4-of-6 shots including both of his three-point attempts. The coaching staff is starting to trust the rookie, as they have had to play him meaningful minutes due to the injuries in the backcourt, and Jenkins is rewarding them with good offensive production and pretty solid defense (his biggest weakness).
The victory pushes the Hawks to 19-9 on the year firmly in third place in the East (3 game lead over 4th placed Indiana and Milwaukee), and was especially sweet playing short-handed and banged up off a back-to-back. Atlanta is back on the road next week starting with a Monday night showdown with the Houston Rockets who embarrassed the Hawks at home in the opener behind a monster performance from James Harden.