Notebook: Hawks 90, Pacers 69

Posted Apr 27, 2013 11:38 PM

By Matt Winkeljohn, for

THE FACTS: Atlanta coach Larry Drew changed just one starter, but the Hawks were an entirely different team in whipping the Indiana Pacers 90-69 Sunday to pull within 2-1 in their first-round playoff series.

Al Horford scored 26 points and grabbed 16 rebounds at power forward rather than center and, after surrendering an average of 110 points in the first two games, the Hawks held the Pacers to 27.2-percent shooting and just 30 first-half points in an easy win. Drew started 7-footer Johan Petro at center and slid Horford and Josh Smith down into the forward spots. Smith was a much better matchup on Indiana small forward Paul George than Kyle Korver had been, and although George scored 16 points, he made just four shots.

Most importantly, the Hawks were clearly more competitive -- particularly on the defensive end as Atlanta had 11 steals and forced 22 Indiana turnovers -- than in Indianapolis.

After a fast start, Indiana was utterly discombobulated over the rest of the first half on offense. In the first two quarters, Indiana players other than George (12 points on 3-for-7 shooting) and David West (eight points on 4-for-10) combined to shoot 3-for-25. West finished with 18 points. Indiana's 30 points were the Pacers' fewest ever in a playoff first half, and the fewest allowed by the Hawks in a playoff first half.

QUOTABLE: "We just picked it up. Coach had to shake us up and get us going. We just turned the energy level up."

-- Al Horford, talking in part about Drew barking at his players in an early timeout

THE STAT: The Hawks outscored the Pacers 50-30 in the paint after being outscored 44-38 and 48-40 in the first two games of the series.

TURNING POINT: Indiana began the game 4-for-6 and took an 8-1 lead, but finished the first half 6-for-36 while being outscored 53-22. After taking that early lead, the Pacers missed their next seven shots, 11 of their next 12 and 14 of the final 16 to close out the first quarter. They then missed 11 of their first 12 shots of the second quarter while falling behind by as many as 26.

QUOTABLE II: "I think we were ready emotionally, bit I think [the Hawks] just played with more desperation than we did . . . when you don't screen with physicality . . . don't execute your sets, and let the other team take your airspace, it's going to leave you with a poor shooting night and a lot of turnovers."

-- Pacers coach Frank Vogel

HOT: Without having to so often try to shoot over Roy Hibbert, Horford went 12-for-20 and grabbed six offensive rebounds. . . . Smith scored a somewhat modest 14 points, but he added six rebounds, six assists and three steals. Oddly, the Hawks' leading shot-blocker has not blocked a shot in the series, but he was abundantly disruptive on defense.

NOT: Pacers point guard George Hill was a pain in the Hawks' side in the first two games, averaging 20 points on 63.6 percent shooting (14-for-22, including 7-for-11 on 3-pointers). Saturday, he scored three points on 1-for-8 shooting. He missed all three trey tries. Hawks point guard Jeff Teague was effective defending Hill prior to bruising his elbow on a fall in the second half. . . . Hill's mate in the starting backcourt, Lance Stephenson, was 1-for-7. . . . The Pacers shot 4-for-20 (20 percent) in the second quarter. . . . Hibbert missed all four of his first-half shots, all in the first quarter. . . . Teague missed all six of his shots in the third quarter.

GOOD MOVE: Drew's decision togive Ivan Johnson big minutes off the bench (in part because the 7-2 Hibbert was off the court often in the first half because of foul trouble), and match him against West, paid off at times. Johnson was physical to the point of frustrating West on several occasions to where he drew a Flagrant 1 foul with 6:55 left in the first half when he pushed Horford from behind to the floor.

NOTABLE: Matters grew especially testy with 6:55 left in the first half, when West chased down Horford from behind, fouled him and then pushed him in the back. After Horford went sprawling, teammate Teague pushed West. He then drew a Flagrant 1 foul, and Teague was assessed a technical foul.

UP NEXT: Game 4, Monday @ Atlanta, 7:30 p.m. (NBA TV), Game 5, Wednesday @ Indiana, time TBA.