On the heels of three consecutive victories, the Atlanta Hawks put together a strong first half showing against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday evening. Though the team was competitive after that, the Pacers were simply the better squad in the second half and the end result was a 129-121 defeat for the home team.
In the continuation of a positive recent trend, the Hawks got off to a strong start in the opening minutes. Dewayne Dedmon buried a three on the first possession, Kent Bazemore had a steal and dunk seconds later and, when Trae Young connected on a lay-up in the lane, Atlanta took a 12-2 lead.
A little bit of magic for Trae Young in the paint. pic.twitter.com/fGzFt7MESc— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) December 27, 2018
The opening period wasn’t dominated by the Hawks, however, as the Pacers made a pair of runs. Indiana went on a 9-2 spurt to prompt a timeout from Lloyd Pierce at the six-minute mark and, later, Indiana scored 11 straight points to take a 22-20 lead. Still, Atlanta was able to hang around (with help from a mini-run featuring threes from Kevin Huerter and Jeremy Lin) and the offense was outstanding.
To that end, Lin was fantastic in the early going, making his first four shots and producing 10 points and three assists in his first seven minutes of play. One of the more amusing (and effective) moments of the first half arrived when Lin connected with not one, but two members of the Hawks on the same alley-oop dunk.
The Hawks Two-Man Alley-Oop Tag Team pic.twitter.com/Mn1kSPH0zf— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) December 27, 2018
The visiting Pacers were able to stay within striking distance of the Hawks with strong offense in their own right, knocking down 51 percent of their shots and generating 19 assists before halftime. Still, Atlanta had four players in double-figures and shot 52 percent from the floor in their own right to take a three-point lead (67-64) into the locker room.
Coming out of the break, Young enjoyed a nice stretch, finding Collins for an alley-oop on the first trip and almost immediately burying a three on his first long-range attempt of the night.
Trae Young turned his head to look at Kent Bazemore as he threw this pass. pic.twitter.com/XvHudRhDTG— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) December 27, 2018
That helped to push Atlanta’s edge back to seven but, in short order, the Pacers again closed the gap. Collins picked up his fourth foul at the 6:50 mark and, sandwiched around that, Indiana spurted to an 8-2 run. The Pacers weren’t done there, as they later scored six straight points to take the lead and, by the end of the third quarter, the visitors had a 14-3 run and a seven-point lead.
With that said, the highlight of the night occurred in the closing seconds of the third period and, even if it led to a three from Indiana, Justin Anderson’s block has to be noted.
Justin Anderson will close the door quickly, folks. pic.twitter.com/AfdfmT7TxB— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) December 27, 2018
To stem the tide of the late third quarter run, Young connected on a three to open the closing period and that was certainly helpful. However, the Pacers took a 10-point lead on a Cory Joseph three at 105-95 and, from there, the Hawks were never able to reassert control. Bazemore buried a triple at the 6:50 mark to bring Atlanta within a five-point margin but, after that, the Pacers simply generated scoring opportunities whenever the Hawks threatened.
Tyreke Evans connected on a three-pointer (out of a timeout) to put Indiana up by 11 points with less than four minutes remaining and, essentially, that became the dagger. The Hawks climbed within five, but the big push never fully emerged on the way to the eight-point final margin.
Bazemore was the engine for the Hawks on this night, tying a career-high with 32 points (on 14 of 25 shooting) and providing stellar play on both ends. Elsewhere, Dedmon posted a season-high with 15 rebounds and he scored 18 points for good measure. Collins (21 points, 11 rebounds), Young (17 points, nine assists) and Lin (12 points, five assists) all produced in a big way as well, and it was Atlanta’s defense (or lack thereof) that was the impetus for this particular defeat.
The Hawks will return to action on Friday night with another change in venue, as the team will visit the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center. Stay tuned.