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Fourth quarter dooms Hawks again in 125-113 loss to Pacers

Indiana Pacers v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

After a hideous performance on Friday evening against the San Antonio Spurs, the Atlanta Hawks returned to action on Saturday, hosting the Indiana Pacers. For three-plus quarters, the Hawks performed at a much higher level. Down the stretch, however, Atlanta melted and lost by a final score of 125-113, falling for the sixth time in seven games.

The start of the game was a bit sloppy on both sides offensively, including three quick turnovers for the Hawks. Atlanta weathered that storm, thanks in large part to quality passing from Trae Young and others, and the Hawks took a 13-12 lead at the first timeout.

The rest of the quarter was closely contested, including a stretch at the end of the period when Atlanta’s bench wavered slightly. All told, the Hawks trailed by one point after 12 minutes, generating 11 assists in the opening period.

In fact, the Hawks assisted on their first 13 field goals until Kevin Huerter made quite an impressive play off the dribble to beat Doug McDermott for a layup early in the second period.

Atlanta’s defense wasn’t able to produce stops, however, and the Pacers took control as a result. Indiana scored 19 points in the first 4:30 of the second quarter to extend their advantage, even as the Hawks produced highlights that included a massive Cam Reddish dunk.

Atlanta did string together a 14-5 push to climb back within one but, after a timeout, Indiana answered with seven straight points of their own. The Hawks did manage to stabilize from there, however, getting into the locker room with only a four-point deficit at 62-58.

Defense was an issue in the first half, particularly in that the Pacers committed only three turnovers in the first 24 minutes. On the offensive side, Atlanta was balanced, with seven players scoring six points or more, and the Hawks generated 21 assists, which represented a season high for any half in 2020-21.

The Hawks came out rolling in the third quarter, using a 7-2 run — capped by a three-pointer by Kevin Huerter — to take a 1-point lead.

Young was masterful in the third quarter, racking up assists and penetrating Indiana’s defense effectively. His offensive showing was the central impetus in an extended 24-12 run from the Hawks, with Atlanta taking an eight-point lead.

Things did stall a bit from there, as the Hawks scuffled when Young was resting late in the third quarter. Still, Atlanta managed to hold the lead, taking a three-point advantage into the closing period.

The Hawks led by as many as nine points in the fourth quarter and, when Reddish connected on a three-pointer with 6:29 to go, Atlanta led by a 103-101 margin. From that point forward, the home team collapsed.

The Pacers zoomed to a 17-2 run, failing to get stops while the offense sputtered in ugly fashion.

When the dust settled, the Hawks fell by a final score of 125-113, losing the fourth quarter by a 41-26 margin. The Pacers converted 12-of-17 shots, including 4-of-6 from three-point range in the final period, with the Hawks shooting just 9-of-24 in the final 12 minutes.

Individually, three members of the Hawks generated double-doubles. Young scored 15 points and dished out 14 assists, though he did not attempt a single three-pointer. Capela finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds, with Huerter adding 10 points and 10 assists.

Atlanta produced a season-high 35 assists and, from a full-game standpoint, the team’s offensive output was enough to win. Defensively, however, the Hawks allowed the Pacers to score more than 1.25 points per possession, and Indiana finished with a shooting slash line of 51/39/85 in this game.

The Hawks will now travel to New York to face the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Monday evening.

Stay tuned.