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Hawks fall to Indiana Pacers in historic offensive showdown

Indiana Pacers v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks suffered defeat to the Indiana Pacers in a high-scoring matchup on Tuesday night, with the final score landing at 157-152. This result dropped the Hawks to a 1-2 record in the In-Season Tournament and brought their overall record below .500 at 6-7. Trae Young led the charge with an efficient 38-point performance, complemented by Dejounte Murray’s 28 and Bogdan Bogdanovic’s 26. However, their collective effort fell short in a game where points were easily earned.

The Hawks’ offense ignited from the moment they hit the court, but they also struggled to prevent the Pacers from scoring. The first quarter, and the entire game, maintained a rapid pace. The Pacers, flaunting the best offense in the NBA, emphasized three-point shooting, hitting five threes in the opening quarter.

Despite the Pacers’ offensive prowess, the Hawks exploited their weak defense. Young initiated the scoring with two first quarter threes.

Jalen Johnson showcased his impact on both ends of the court, displaying excellent reads on fast breaks. In one instance, he drew attention and dished off to Capela. On the next, he opted for a coast-to-coast finish with a slam.

With Young, Murray, Hunter, Johnson, Capela, Bogdanovic, Okongwu, Wes Matthews, and Bey contributing points, the Hawks secured a 40-34 lead entering the second quarter. Bogdanovic and Hunter faced foul trouble but Snyder let them play through it.

The offensive momentum continued in the second quarter, with Bogdanovic amassing 22 points in the first half. A left-handed dime from Young extended the lead to 20 points just over three minutes before the half.

However, the Pacers refused to concede. Despite the Hawks going up by 20 points, maintaining focus and retaining the lead proved challenging. In today’s league, a 20-point lead is far from comfortable. Late in the second quarter, the Pacers applied full-court pressure, aiming to take the ball from Trae Young’s hands and induce mistakes while accelerating the pace of the game.

Trae Young was fouled three times during the first and second quarters, all of which he, and many observers, believed were shooting fouls. Unfortunately, all three calls were deemed floor fouls, leading Young to receive a technical foul after disputing the third call.

Following the Hawks’ 78-58 lead, the Pacers orchestrated a 15-8 run, narrowing their deficit to 13 points. The halftime score stood at 86-73, setting a franchise record for the Atlanta Hawks.

In one instance, Trae Young threw the ball to Jalen Johnson when faced with a trap, and Johnson made a great play. However, immediately following this positive example is a less favorable one, where Trae Young drew two defenders 60 feet away from the basket but De’Andre Hunter then turned it over.

Tyrese Haliburton knocked down seven triples in the third quarter alone, giving the Pacers the lead with just over a minute remaining in the quarter. In this quarter, the Pacers outscored the Hawks 46-28.

In the early moments of the fourth quarter, the Hawks conceded back-to-back buckets, giving the Pacers an eight-point lead. The momentum and control had clearly shifted in favor of the Pacers, extending their lead to 127-114 before the 10-minute mark in the quarter. Despite this, the Hawks continued to battle, with Trae Young leading the charge. Once again, neither team managed to generate a defensive stop, leading to more back-and-forth scoring between the two teams.

Dejounte Murray contributed by scoring back-to-back threes with seven minutes to go, narrowing the Pacers’ lead to just three points. The lead remained within two possessions for several ongoing minutes. However, the Hawks struggled defensively, giving up easy points on nearly every possession. Just when it seemed like the Pacers might pull away, Trae Young and Dejounte hit crucial shots to keep the game competitive.

With a 149-148 deficit, Trae Young showcased his clutch abilities in crunch time. This shot provided the Hawks with a one-point lead with just over a minute remaining in the game.

However, as the narrative unfolded, Buddy Hield found himself with an open three and confidently knocked it down, giving the Pacers a two-point lead in the contest. On the subsequent possession, Saddiq Bey scored a challenging two to tie the game. Despite the Hawks’ determined effort, Buddy Hield had different intentions. His sixth three-pointer of the night, coming with less than a minute to go, extended the Pacers’ lead to three points over the Hawks.

With an opportunity to tie the game, Dejounte Murray was called for an offensive foul due to a leg kick after a three-pointer. The outcome seemed inconsequential as the three-point attempt didn’t find the mark. Coach Quin Snyder opted to use his challenge, but it proved unsuccessful.

The Hawks were granted one final chance to secure a crucial stop, and it unfolded with Tyrese Haliburton matched up against Trae Young, with an 11-second difference between the shot clock and game clock.

With solid defense and a remarkable strip-steal, the Hawks had an opportunity to tie the game on the other end. However, Dejounte Murray opted for an unwarranted layup, and a loose ball secured by Tyrese Haliburton sealed the game.

The Hawks concluded the game shooting 57-for-95 from the field and 15-for-31 from three. Despite these impressive numbers, it was overshadowed by the Pacers’ extraordinary shooting performance of 22-for-45 from three and 57-for-94 from the field. The defensive struggle was evident, with both teams seemingly treating defense as optional.

Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield were the driving forces behind the Pacers’ three-point barrage, combining for 15 triples on an efficient 15-21 shooting. Obi Toppin contributed 21 points, while Benedict Mathurin added 19. Aaron Nesmith, Myles Turner, and Bruce Brown all finished in double figures.

As mentioned earlier, the Hawks were led in scoring by Young, Murray, and Bogdanovic, with Johnson, Bey, and Capela also reaching double-digit scoring. However, the offensive output wasn’t the issue. The Hawks struggled to string together stops, particularly between their 20-point lead and the final buzzer. Despite securing a critical stop with a chance to tie on the last possession, the game shouldn’t have reached that point.

In the post-game analysis, Quin Snyder addressed the slow start to the second half, acknowledging the Pacers’ 18-point advantage in the third quarter, a challenging aspect in a game where the Hawks surrendered 157 points.

Despite giving up a high score, Trae Young was praised by both Quin Snyder and media for his consistent defensive effort, highlighted by the crucial stop on Haliburton at the game’s end. Young responded to questions about his defense and the fouls called on the floor, expressing his perspective in the post-game interview.

Trae Young attempted eight free throws, but he expressed the belief that he should have earned eight more. Despite this, Young acknowledged, “So, um, I mean that’s not the reason why we lost. Um, could it be a reason? Definitely. Um, but you gotta move on. We gotta game tomorrow, we gotta focus on.”

Looking ahead, the Hawks will return to StateFarm Arena to face the Brooklyn Nets tonight.