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Hawks lose to Pacers 133-126 in failed comeback attempt

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NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks lost to the Indiana Pacers 133-126 Thursday evening, falling short of a comeback attempt on the second night of a back-to-back. Atlanta blew out the Phoenix Suns at home Wednesday evening.

The Hawks struggled in the first half, trailing 36-26 after the opening quarter, with little defensive resistance offered against the Pacers offense. Atlanta had little answer for Domantas Sabonis in the first quarter, as he totaled 11 points and four rebounds in the opening 12 minutes.

To little surprise, Bogdan Bogdanovic lead the Hawks with nine first-quarter points.

Atlanta’s defense was no better in the second quarter, as Indiana raced out to 72 first-half points and a 14-point lead heading into halftime. The Hawks offense was not horrible, as they shot 47.8% from the floor and knocked down six three-pointers, but it was not enough to match the shooting display the Pacers put on in the first two quarters.

The home team shot 61.2% from the floor in the first half and had 22 assists as a team. Caris LeVert and T.J. McConnell each had 13 points to lead Indiana at the break. Danilo Gallinari had 13 as well to lead the visitors.

The third quarter started off shaky as well for Atlanta, but midway through the period they were able to mount a 10-0 run that spanned just 94 seconds to get back within seven points of the Pacers at the 6:16 mark. Kevin Huerter was key on both ends of the floor during the run.

The Hawks were humming on offense in the third, but couldn’t string together stops on the defensive end to fully narrow the margin. Indiana cleared the 30-point mark with ease for the third consecutive period, and led 110-96 heading to the fourth. Despite a 38-point quarter from Atlanta, they gained no ground on the Pacers on the scoreboard. Trae Young scored 17 of those 38 for the road team.

The fourth quarter was a different story, as the Hawks went on a 15-4 run to pull within three points of Indiana in the opening four minutes of the period.

The teams exchanged punches throughout the meat of the quarter, and ultimately the Hawks wound up with a great chance to win late in the game, as they trailed 122-121 with 3:05 to go after an alley-oop from Young to Clint Capela.

The Hawks had a few chances to tie or take the lead, but weren’t able to convert, then LeVert hit a tough jumper and drew a foul to extend the lead to six with 1:08 to go.

Bogdanovic hit another three to get it back to three, but LeVert scored again to answer and put Indiana up 129-124 with 31.6 to go. From there, the Hawks came up empty on their next possession and began to play the foul game.

They would fall short, losing by a final score of 133-126.

Young led Atlanta with 30 points and 10 assists, while Bogdanovic added 28 points on 6-of-10 from three-point-range. John Collins had 25 points and seven rebounds.

Levert led all scorers with 31 points including the late clutch buckets that sealed it. He also had 12 assists and three blocks. Sabonis added 30 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in the winning effort.

The Hawks will now have three days off before facing the Washington Wizards Monday evening. Stay tuned.