The Atlanta Hawks made the most of catching the Indiana Pacers at the end of their four games in five days stretch, overwhelming the weary Eastern conference leaders right from the start, making it a bit too difficult for them to lead any kind of comeback charge.
The Hawks started the game with a 12-0 run, enough to hold on to their lead for the rest of the game, eventually winning 97-87. The Hawks might be without Al Horford, but Pero Antic is doing a very good job at center, finishing with 16 points. He was too much for Roy Hibbert who had an awful performance, playing only 22 minutes, scoring just 2 points.
Kyle Korver continued his streak of hitting at least one shot from beyond the arc in each game. He scored 17 points, connecting three times from 3-point range. Jeff Teague wasn’t very accurate, but he set the tone and pace of the game which the Pacers couldn’t follow, scoring 15 points and adding 6 assists.
Guys didn’t have a lot of pop to start the game. Shots weren’t falling, catches were a step slow in a lot of areas. But I’m proud of our guys for battling back in the second half, making it a game. This is definitely a winnable game for us, but it’s a tough stretch, four out of five, travel situations that we had. It’s not an excuse, but it’s nothing to be down about at this point.
This pretty much sums up the way most NBA teams think. It’s impossible to go out there and give 100% in every game during the regular season, even if you’re injury free and have a young roster to build on. Big men like Roy Hibbert are bound to get tired from these kind of intense stretches, but aside from Paul George (28 points, 12 rebounds), no one was really up to their usual standards. Similar to being defeated by the Oklahoma City Thunder, and maybe something that separates George from the superior Durant and LeBron: When he’s the only one having a good game for his team, there’s a very good chance it’ll end with a loss for the much more team-oriented Pacers.
Lance Stephenson didn’t play, which meant Danny Granger was in the lineup and Paul George played as a shooting guard. Some assumed that was the plan when the season began, but Granger took his time before coming back from yet another injury, which meant Stephenson kept his place in the lineup.
This win doesn’t make it more likely that the Hawks will pose a threat for anything more than a conference semifinal berth, something the franchise hasn’t been past since leaving St. Louis and the early days of the NBA. Having Al Horford back at some point while allowing Pero Antic to develop into a legitimate starting center in the league means the Hawks might be a lot more dangerous come April, but their lack of bench depth and missing a player who can create points for himself when times are tough means there’s a ceiling to this team’s potential, at least this season.