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Hawks suffer third loss to Indiana Pacers this season

Indiana Pacers v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images

On Friday night, The Atlanta Hawks lost to the Indiana Pacers for the third time this season, by a final score of 126-108. This time around, the Pacers were without All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton. The Hawks were still without De’Andre Hunter, Mouhamed Gueye, Vit Krejci, and Wesley Matthews. The Hawks rolled out with the usual five in Trae Young, Dejounte Murray, Saddiq Bey, Jalen Johnson, and Clint Capela. Starting for the Pacers were Andrew Nembhard, Bruce Brown, Aaron Nesmith, Jalen Smith, and Myles Turner.

The Hawks actually were off to a decent start, with Capela scoring at the rim three out of the first four possessions. The first four minutes held a manageable pace, but it was apparent fans would see the things they’ve seen far too often in this game. An example being the Hawks have simply not been good defending baseline cuts, and the Pacers capitalize on this at nearly every opportunity.

The Hawks never quite figured it out on offense, with a lot of drives to the rim that resulted in bad decision as the Pacers crashed down. Dejounte Murray threw a turnover off the drive here, but got it back in time to throw a lob to Jalen Johnson.

Murray was off to another good start, scoring a midrange and a three-pointer in the quarter alongside two assists. Trae Young, however, was off to another poor start. He was just 1-for-5 from the field after the first quarter, with his only bucket being a successful and-one.

Overall, it was a similar sight defensively as the Hawks were outscored 34-30 in the quarter. The only thing holding the Pacers to 34 was their seven turnovers. They had 14 assists on their 16 makes (on just 19 attempts) and made both attempts from beyond the arc. And that’s not surprising when you see just how open these shots were.

As we saw in that last contest, the Pacers began to beat the Hawks down court frequently. I thought, overall, the Hawks did a better job in transition early in the game. However, their transition defense and rotations couldn’t hold against this Pacers team that likes to play fast. On a bright note, Bogdan Bogdanovic reached a career accolade in his 1,000th made three-pointer. A remarkable feat that he and Young would reach in the same game, marking the first time that’s ever been done.

The second quarter proved no more fruitful for Young. The Pacers defense seems to impact his decision making, and it doesn’t help that the shots weren’t falling. At many points, it felt he was forcing the issue.

And subsequently, Benedict Mathurin beat the whole Hawks team down court for a simple reverse layup.

TJ McConnell, who logged nine assists by midway through the second quarter, capitalized at multiple points when the Hawks were lackadaisical.

To start the second, the Pacers went out on a 13-0 run before this bucket from Jalen Johnson stopped the bleeding.

The 34-32 scoring margin in the Pacers’ favor does not accurately reflect this quarter. The Hawks trailed by as much as 19 early. Saddiq Bey made three field goals this game, all from deep, and they all came in the second quarter. He kept the Hawks in it with 12 points, while Murray brought his total points to 14 for the half.

With threes from Bey, Johnson, then Murray, the Hawks cut the lead to single digits with less than two minutes remaining in the half. After a dunk from Johnson, this and-one from Trae Young made the score 68-62 in the Pacers’ favor, where it would stay, Young stayed down momentarily after he hit the floor, seemingly in some pain.

The third quarter, simply put, was not good. The first few minutes played relatively even, but the Hawks were outscored 31-19. Apart from Murray’s perfect 5-for-5 from the field, the rest he team combined to go 3-for-14 from the field. Murray scored 11 of the Hawks’ 19.

Amidst trade rumors, Murray has had an exceptional month scoring the basketball. The Hawks really weren’t terrible defensively in the quarter. While that’s still the overarching issue this season, this scoring lapse is what costed them a chance in this game.

The Hawks trailed by as much as 20 points, and had nothing going offensively. Jalen Johnson caught a lob one-handed as time expired to bring the deficit down to 18.

By the beginning of the fourth quarter, there was a general feel that the Hawks were not going to come back and win this game. Trae Young was able to knock down his 999th and 1,000th career three-pointer after not making a three-point attempt all game. Here is his official 1,000th career make,

Nonetheless, the Pacers continued to score and the energy from the players (and subsequently fans) was lacking. The Pacers led by as much as 118-91 with 6:51 remaining. However, it wasn’t until just under four minutes when Snyder opted to clear his bench, though Young exited earlier.

Trae Young’s January has been a polar opposite from his December so far. This month, he is averaging 21.8 points on just 34.4 percent from the field, 20.9 percent from beyond the arc, and 83.7 percent from the charity stripe. The Hawks are 2-3 in this stretch.

However, entering the game would be AJ Griffin, Bruno Fernando, and Seth Lundy to finish this one out. AJ Griffin scored a reverse layup, but there’s not much to take from this “garbage-time” minutes.

The Pacers broke a franchise record against the Hawks for a third time this season.

The Hawks finished 40-for-89 from the field and 11-for-30 from three-point land. The Pacers scored 53-of-79 field goals, as well as shot 11-for-18 from three-point land. They assisted on 41 of their makes, while the Hawks had a team total 25 assists. While the Hawks did force 25 turnovers, there’s really nothing to hang their hat on defensively.

In the post-game, Snyder spoke to the difficulty containing the Pacers in transition.

“Ironically, like at half time we’d only given up eight points in transition, so we’ve talked so much about transition defense against this team, and really throughout the course of the season. We did a better job getting back. I think it’s difficult when we miss some easy opportunities early and it’s hard to defend against those, and then we had some turnovers... we didn’t do a good enough job keeping the ball out of the paint.”

The Hawks allowed 76 points in the paint, and the big men can’t be put to blame. Every Pacer was scoring in the paint, and it was a matter of poor defense as a collective unit.

Jalen Johnson spoke to how this game hurts but it’s the NBA, they have a chance to get back out there tomorrow and win.

The Hawks will face off against the Washington Wizards tonight at home.