For the final 40 minutes of Tuesday night's game against the Indiana Pacers, the Atlanta Hawks played reasonably well, but in the end, the first 8 minutes did them in on the way to a 108-98 loss. The 10-point defeat represents the 6th straight loss for the Hawks, and an early 31-9 deficit was the major culprit in extending their season-long losing skid.
The Pacers began the night with a vicious barrage, scoring 31 points in just over 7 minutes on the stretch of a blistering 13-for-14 start from the field. Of course, the Hawks weren't void of responsibility in the run with 7 turnovers (finishing the night with 22 in all), but Indy's intense start dwarfed a visibly rusty Hawks team, and from that point on, it took a herculean effort from Mike Budenholzer's team to even close the gap to a reasonable margin.
Lou Williams and Shelvin Mack spurred a big-time run between the 1st and 2nd quarters (eventually bringing Atlanta within 3), as Williams scored 14 of his 18 points before the break (before leaving with a reported headache), and Mack added 7 points and 3 assists in the first 24 minutes on the way to 11 points and 7 assists for the night. Unfortunately, they weren't accompanied by an above-average night from either Paul Millsap (3-10 FG, 7 points, 8 rebounds) or Jeff Teague (8 points, 2 assists, 4 turnovers), and only Kyle Korver (19 points, 5 assists, 5-7 from 3-point land) and Mike Scott (13 points, 7 rebounds) were exceedingly effective.
On the Pacers side, it was the Paul George show from the outset, and it is no surprise that one of the best players in the NBA was able to have his way with an Atlanta defense that didn't have its best perimeter defender in DeMarre Carroll. George's 26 points led the way for Indy, and noted Hawks killer David West added 17 points and 6 rebounds for good measure.
It is tough to just "brush off" the hideous start that occurred in this one, especially after what should have been a beneficial week of rest, but at the same time, the Pacers present an incredible challenge to even the full-strength Hawks, and this was a painfully reduced edition. There will be no breathing room for Atlanta following this one, as they re-open their home schedule with a date against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night at Philips Arena.