The Atlanta Hawks saw their three game winning streak snapped with a 96-84 loss to the Indiana Pacers and also lost Al Horford in the process. Horford will be re-evaluated on Thursday after falling to the floor and suffering a strained shoulder midway through the first quarter. Without Horford and Tracy McGrady, who was a late scratch with back spasms, Atlanta struggled coming out of halftime and were outscored 27-9 in the third quarter to effectively seal their fate.
A couple of things happened in this game that suggests that this matchup has the makings of a heated rivalry between the two clubs. The game was a physical one throughout that broke down into some trash talking and posing on the Pacers part once the game had been decided. That eventually led to Jason Collins decking Lou Amundson as the Pacers forward tried to score in the game's final moments with the shot clock off. Collins was ejected and the game ended but you have to feel like the Hawks will remember this loss.
Even without Horford and McGrady, Atlanta hung tough in the first half trailing 53-50 at the break. The Hawks made a strong run in the second quarter by getting to the basket and with some timely three-point shooting from Joe Johnson. That all came unraveled in the third quarter as the Pacers dug in defensively and the Hawks simply couldn't score. It certainly didn't help that Danny Granger had one of his best shooting nights of the season.
The final numbers for the Hawks are ugly but no starter played more than 34 minutes which was important with Atlanta right back at it on Thursday against the Charlotte Bobcats. Josh Smith led the way with 16 points, seven boards and three assists while hitting 7-13 shots. Joe Johnson scored all 15 of his points in the first half going 5-12 and 3-5 from deep.
Zaza Pachulia replaced Horford and finished with 11 points and seven rebounds in just over 30 minutes of action. Willie Green chipped in 10 points and six boards off the bench. Vladimir Radmanovic couldn't keep up his stellar play from the last week finishing with three points on 1-7 shooting. Personally I like Radmanovic at the small forward position when he is making shots but watching him try to guard Granger or Paul George was not an encouraging sight. Jerry Stackhouse scored eight points in garbage time and rookie Donald Sloan made his NBA debut finishing with six points and four boards.
Granger may have had his best game of the season for Indiana finishing 9-16 for 24 points. David West, Roy Hibbert and Lance Stephenson all scored 12 points. Hibbert was a big factor particularly with Horford out of the game finishing with 11 rebounds and four blocks.
The Hawks won't have time to mope about this loss as they open a four game home stand Thursday at Philips Arena against the Charlotte Bobcats. The statuses of Horford and McGrady as well as Marvin Williams won't be known until closer to game time. There is a chance that Atlanta may have to play the Bobcats tonight without all three players.