The Atlanta Hawks got exactly what they were looking for in Game 3 as they bounced back with a 90-69 win over the Indiana Pacers. Atlanta flipped the script on the Pacers clamping down defensively early and becoming the aggressor at both ends of the floor.
Interestingly it was Indiana that jumped out to a quick 8-1 lead that prompted an early time out for the Hawks. Larry Drew tore into his team for the lackadaisical start and they responded by taking over the game and taking out the Pacers. The Hawks led 27-14 after one. They extended the lead to 54-30 at the half and Indiana didn't crack 20 points in a single quarter until the fourth quarter and long after the outcome of the game had been decided.
What adjustments the Hawks would make was the major theme of Game 3 as the series shifted to Atlanta. Drew opted to go with a bigger starting lineup that featured Johan Petro at center which enabled Josh Smith to match up against Paul George. The Hawks did a much better job defensively and dialed up the pressure on Indiana who committed 22 turnovers in the game. Those turnovers helped to ignite Atlanta's offense and played a huge part in the Hawks' building an early lead.
Another adjustment that Drew made was tightening the rotation significantly from what we saw in Games 1 & 2. The Hawks were able to avoid major foul trouble until the second half and Drew essentially went with an eight player rotation before emptying the bench at garbage time.
Al Horford led the Hawks with 22 points and 16 rebounds. Josh Smith spent the second half battling foul trouble but still managed 14 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals while helping set the tone from the outset. Jeff Teague had a tough shooting night that was a direct result of his inability to induce a favorable call from the officials on many of his drives to the basket but he still finished with 13 points and five assists. Ivan Johnson finished with seven points and seven rebounds but played valuable minutes off the bench particularly when the Hawks were building their first half lead.
David West led the Pacers with 18 points while George added 16 on 4-11 shooting. Roy Hibbert scored all eight of his points in the second half. After torching the Hawks in the first two games, George Hill was held to just three points on 1-8 shooting. As a team the Pacers combined to make just 27 percent of their field goal attempts in the game.
Atlanta will have the opportunity to tie the series up on Monday night when the two teams meet again at Philips Arena in Game 4. The Pacers have now lost 12 consecutive games in Atlanta and have looked like a different team on the road.