Quick Thought: Ugly, pretty - who cares? Three game losing streak is over.
From the beginning, it looked as if this would be a back and forth game with many lead changes as the Hawks ran out off the tip, the Pacers fought back, and the Hawks ran again, ending the first quarter with 32 points against Indiana's 21. Joe Johnson abused Paul George and Joe, Josh Smith and Kirk Hinrich split 25 of those points between them in the quarter.
Hinrich in particular was stellar in relief of Jeff Teague, who once again fell into peculiar foul trouble. How a mild mannered, even shy guy, has drawn the ire of the officials, I don't know, but this is two games consecutively that Jeff has found the officials whistle. Hinrich, meanwhile, found his stroke from the outside all night, shooting 7-9/3-5 for 17 points off the bench for Teague.
As for Josh, he was on all night long. There were the ubiquitous jump shots, including two from three point territory and some others from around the perimeter. For the Hawks luck, most went down as Smith had 28 points on 11-17 shooting.
Between the first quarter and a very productive lineup (18-4 run) when the starters returned to play with Tracy McGrady in the second quarter, the Hawks had as large as a 22-point lead and ended the half up 18.
Though the Pacers would get the lead down to six at one point in the third quarter, the Hawks always were able to push back with good ball movement and getting to the free throw line. The Hawks attempted 15 free throws in the second half despite the lack of foul endgame strategy by the Pacers as the Hawks locked the game up.
It starts with Josh Smith, who had the game high with those 28 points. We now see how long Larry Drew is willing to play the "good" Josh as Smith played the entire second half and had 46 minutes total. Yes, the "good" Josh launched those threes and had five turnovers, but we saw why it would be hard to see Smith playing in another uniform as well. Smith had three blocks, including a complete erasing of a David West putback late in the fourth quarter. There were also five steals, three assists and 12 rebounds, one of which was a splendid put back dunk off a Marvin Williams miss.
Joe Johnson cooled off in the second half, making only 1-9 shots from the field, but he was instrumental in the initial pull away from the Pacers in the first half, when he scored 16 of his 20 points for the game. Paul George is a good player, but Joe took him to the woodshed in three straight possessions in the first quarter and George struggled to stay with Joe throughout whether it was running off screens or Joe executing a tricky dribble move to get past the Pacer defender. Joe also had six rebounds and eight assists against two turnovers, also playing the entire second half to get the win.
As mentioned, Kirk Hinrich definitely had his shot going against Indiana, making those 7-9 for 17 points, but he also played some hard-nosed defense as well for the second straight game.
It was the fifth time this season Josh Smith shot 17 or more times and made at least 10 shots as he did Wednesday night. The Hawks have won all five of those games.
If Lou Amundson thought the Hawks might have forgotten his regrettable extraneous dunk at the Hawks expense (and specifically Jason Collins) when the Pacers beat Atlanta earlier this year, he was very wrong. Credit Tracy McGrady for being the enforcer as, when the Pacers shot an airball and McGrady and Amundson were both under the basket, T-Mac clearly took the opportunity to give Amundson a clear hip check and shove as the ball came down. Amundson looked angry and McGrady didn't back down. Both were assessed technical fouls for the discussion.
Give Marvin Williams credit for some of Danny Granger's field goal struggles (5-17). On the seven plays Williams specifically covered Granger when the Pacer forward shot the ball, all seven missed, including a couple of seriously good footwork plays by Marvin that resulted in wild attempts by Granger.
After the Phoenix game, Joe Johnson told us that the team needed to be less hero-y and more share-y (paraphrasing). Of course, it always helps the assist total when the team is hot from long range, which at 9-21 from three point range, one could certainly say the Hawks were. As Joe also mentioned, the Hawks were short on quality wins among the 16 they had before the game. After dispatching the Pacers, whose 17-8 record is a half-game better than Atlanta's 17-9 record, you can comfortably put this one in the quality win column.