Defense fuels Atlanta's offense in win over Pacers

Kevin C. Cox

The Atlanta Hawks came up with one of their best defensive efforts of the season in defeating the Indiana Pacers to snap a three-game losing streak.

The Atlanta Hawks snapped a three-game losing streak with a 97-87 win over the Indiana Pacers thanks to a spirited effort defensively and the return of a free flowing offense.

The Hawks defeated the Pacers for the 12th straight time in the regular season at Philips Arena in rather dominating fashion. Atlanta began the game with a 12-0 run and led 25-12 at the end of one and never really looked back leading wire-to-wire over the Eastern Conference leader.

The Hawks were able to pick up their offense by picking up their play on the defensive end of the floor. Atlanta took advantage of 20 Indiana turnovers and turned them into 21 points. Atlanta came up with eight steals in the game and finished with 14 fast break points. Mike Budenholzer talked about the defensive performance after the game and the effect it had on the offense:

"It was one of our best defensive games. DeMarre Carroll really set the tone for us with his defense and his activity . . . I think the defense fueled the offense and fueled the energy that we played offense with."

Carroll's energy was apparent from the outset. He battled Paul George from the tip and looked like he was flying all over the court. He finished with 11 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals but the stats don't really do his night justice.

The good defense from Atlanta allowed them to elevate the pace and never let Indiana settle in where their big size advantage would have paid off. That faster pace forced the Pacers into some unwanted matchups and the Hawks were able to spread the floor and knock down some shots from distance.

Kyle Korver had his best performance in over a week finishing with 17 points on 6-8 shooting. He knocked down another four-point play and extended his consecutive games streak with a made three to 105.

You could see the reluctance on Roy Hibbert's face every time that Pero Antic caught the ball on the perimeter. The Hawks were able to exploit that matchup thanks to some good shooting from Antic who scored eight of Atlanta's first 12 points. Antic finished with 16 to go along with four rebounds and did a nice job defensively while he was in there.

Paul Millsap struggled again from the field finishing with four points on 1-10 shooting but he did grab six rebounds and hand out five assists while playing good defense on David West. Jeff Teague also had a good night despite going 5-14 from the field but finished with 15 points and six assists. Its good to see the Hawks turn a good offensive performance without explosive nights from Millsap or Teague.

The Hawks win despite being outrebounded 46-34 and 14-6 on the offensive glass. Atlanta was able to limit Indiana to just seven second chance points on those 14 offensive rebounds. Millsap led the Hawks with six boards. At some point they have to get better on the boards but on this night they were able to make it work.

Paul George led the Pacers with 28 points and 12 rebounds but was just 11-25 from the field. Danny Granger added 14 while George Hill finished with 10. David West left the game early with an apparent hand injury but returned and finished with eight points and 11 rebounds. Roy Hibbert was largely ineffective finishing with two points and four rebounds in 22 minutes while going 1-8 from the field.

Its important to point out that Indiana was on the second night of a back-to-back and played the game without Lance Stephenson. They looked lethargic to start and Atlanta took advantage. However, the Hawks deserve credit for snapping out of their doldrums and finding a way in the second half when Indiana made their run. Atlanta didn't blink and closed out a much needed win in a way that hopefully builds some momentum going forward.

Notebook

  • Mike Scott deserved much more than a bullet point because he continued his strong play off the bench and once again provided some offensive punch. Scott finished with 15 points in just under 17 minutes going 5-9 from the field and 4-4 from the free throw line. He grabbed four rebounds and finished with zero turnovers.
  • Elton Brand added eight points and four rebounds but like Carroll that stat line doesn't really tell the whole story. Brand was a presence on the interior defensively and played a big part on that end of the floor.
  • Atlanta tied Indiana for points in the paint at 34-34. The Hawks converted on 17-33 opportunities down low while holding Indiana to 17-39.
  • The Hawks made the most of their opportunities at the charity stripe going 19-22 while Indiana was just 8-9.

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