The feel good momentum that the Atlanta Hawks had built in Games 3 & 4 disappeared quickly in a 106-83 loss to the Indiana Pacers in Game 5. The Hawks now trail the Pacers 3-2 in the best-of-seven series with Game 6 scheduled for Friday night back at Philips Arena.
Adjustments has been the theme of the series thus far and it was Indiana's turn in Game 5. Frank Vogel altered his rotation slightly to varying degrees of success by playing Jeff Pendergraph early and matching him up against Josh Smith. However, the biggest adjustment the Pacers made was getting the ball into the hands of David West and Roy Hibbert early and often.
In Games 3 & 4 the Hawks big lineup was able to slow down the Pacers. In Game 5 Indiana made Atlanta pay by attacking Johan Petro early with Hibbert and then off the dribble as he was slow to recover with his help defense. Yet despite shooting less than 40 percent the Hawks found themselves down just seven points, 50-43 at the half despite Josh Smith having sat out the final 6:49 of the second quarter after picking up his second foul.
Indiana quickly went for the kill in the third quarter as Smith picked up his third on the first play of the second half while trying to defend Hibbert. Smith then picked up his fourth with 8:16 remaining and the Hawks trailing 57-46. Larry Drew elected to leave Smith on the floor and he promptly picked up his fifth and a technical less than a minute later which forced him to sit until the 9:06 mark of the fourth quarter.
The Hawks struggled offensively from the outset as the Pacers pounded them inside and on the glass which successfully negated the transition game. Once in the halfcourt, Atlanta relied heavily on the jump shot which was not falling. It was a stark contrast from what worked so well at Philips Arena but something that we have seen time and time again with this team.
Despite playing just under 26 minutes, Smith tied for the team lead in points with 14. He was far from efficient however going 5-16 from the field and 3-7 from the free throw line. Al Horford also finished with 14 points but was just 5-14 from the field. Devin Harris added 13 points and Kyle Korver scored 10 off the bench. Jeff Teague finished with just seven on 3-16 shooting.
West was the catalyst for the Pacers finishing with a game high 24 points on 11-16 shooting. Paul George added 21 points, 10 rebounds and five assists while Hibbert finished with 18 points and nine rebounds. George Hill bounced back from two subpar games in Atlanta to log a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists. Lance Stephenson finished with eight points but grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds. Indiana destroyed Atlanta on the glass by a 51-28 margin.
The Hawks have now lost eight straight road games dating back to the regular season and five straight on the road to the Pacers.