The Atlanta Hawks and the Indiana Pacers linked up in a late afternoon tilt in State Farm Arena. The Hawks were without De’Andre Hunter and Jalen Johnson, while the Indiana Pacers were down recently extended Myles Turner. Bogdan Bogdanovic picked up a start in his place and the Pacers countered with a perimeter-heavy starting lineup, featuring All-Star Tyrese Haliburton.
Tough start defensively for Atlanta saw them get outscored by Andrew Nembard alone 9-to-6 at one point in the game, but the Hawks kept battling and chipped away at an early deficit.
This John Collins triple was a big help.
JC for 3 pic.twitter.com/rzCzwRzCYF— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) March 25, 2023
Atlanta gave up some early transition points leading to a 9-point hole at one point, but started to dig into the deficit when the bench unit came in.
AJ Griffin started cooking from the jump and didn’t quit until a late heave in the first quarter. He finished the quarter with 11 points, three triples, and an emphatic blog. Check out his greatest hits here.
AJ is doing everything everywhere all at once pic.twitter.com/UZOz3OvzKg— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) March 25, 2023
After one quarter, the Hawks led 39-35.
Garrison Mathews took his turn holding the hot hand in the second quarter. He went a perfect 3-for-3 from the field and held his own defending the perimeter on the other end with few other stoppers available.
With Indiana thin on bigs, the Hawks’ own bigs attacked the rim with some success.
CC with 2 hands— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) March 25, 2023
JC with 1 hand
Fellas attacking that rim ️ pic.twitter.com/C3Prrz8aZm
After one half, it was a defensive performance to forget. Jordan Nwora had a field day with a 25-point performance on 9-of-11 (81%) shooting. It was clear the absences of Hunter and Johnson had a big effect on the perimeter defense.
Still, the Hawks found themselves down just 74-72 after some strong performances from John Collins — who had 15 points — and Trae Young — who had 14 points. They would need a stiffer performance from the guards and wings defensively to take home victory from here.
After an offensive foul call on Trae Young in the third quarter, he fired the ball with force at a referee and was hit with an automatic ejection.
Trae Young has been ejected. pic.twitter.com/Xbdiw3vg70— Bally Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnBally) March 25, 2023
In his wake, Dejounte Murray took control of the Hawks offense. He attacked the rim and led the Hawks in scoring in the third quarter with 10 points. He knotted 10 assists through the first three quarters alone as well.
TAKE OVER THEN DJ pic.twitter.com/34VeFxHDHl— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) March 25, 2023
Still, the Hawks needed to seal the deal despite a 105-98 margin going into the fourth.
The Hawks bench helped pad the lead with almost perfect three-point shooting. Garrison Mathews once against made an appearance in the fourth quarter.
Do your thing, Garry Bird. pic.twitter.com/FqlXIbfMwk— Bally Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnBally) March 25, 2023
The Hawks offense would continue to cook, dropping threes and getting to the rim almost at will. Still, the Pacers wouldn’t go away despite being down 17 at once point in the final period.
But the Hawks would keep a double-digit lead past that point and win comfortably behind some sharper defensive play and timely buckets, 143-130. It was a powerful and balanced offensive attack that allowed the Hawks to score a season-high in points.
John Collins led the charge with 21 points and Dejounte Murray added 20 points and 12 assists. The Hawks bench that featured Saddiq Bey, Aaron Holiday, AJ Griffin, Onyeka Okongwu and Garrison Mathews drained 12 threes in the contest, and eight players in total scored at least 10 points.
The win takes the Hawks back up to even .500 at 37-37.