By Conrad Brunner
With Danny Granger setting the tone with an aggressive 28 points, and Darren Collison and Roy Hibbert both posting double-doubles, the Pacers put together their second consecutive strong offensive showing in a solid 114-102 victory over the Atlanta Hawks before 15,879 Friday in Conseco Fieldhouse.
In snapping a nine-game losing streak against the Hawks, the Pacers never trailed and led by double figures most of the second half. Atlanta was no closer than eight in the fourth quarter.
Indiana looked very much like a team intent on heading into its first-round playoff series with Chicago next weekend. The Bulls clinched the top spot in the Eastern Conference with a 93-82 victory over Cleveland Friday.
The Hawks were led by Indianapolis native Jeff Teague, who scored 17 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter.
The Pacers won their second in a row and fifth in six games to improve to 37-43 overall, 24-16 at home and 20-16 under interim coach Frank Vogel. The Hawks lost their third straight to fall to 44-35 overall, 20-19 on the road.
- "Danny (Granger) and Darren (Collison) really led us defensively. They responded to the challenge of raising their defensive level." -- Vogel
- "Danny had an exceptional night tonight. At small forward hes a legitimate low post threat. Every team needs a go to guy and hes our go to guy."
- "We are just trying to build momentum going into the playoffs. Were looking to be very offensive, move the ball, hit the open people and put points on the board. We are shooting well, passing the ball well, which results in wins. We are gaining our confidence more and more every game. And this is the mind set that we need to be in going to the playoffs." -- Granger
- "(It) might not mean a lot in the standings but it meant a lot to us as a team. We are functioning better, our defense is better but we cant afford to let up for any reason. We must bring our A game, keeping moving, passing and playing good defense every game we play for the rest of the year." -- Josh McRoberts
- "(The Pacers) played hard. They played like a team with a game that had meaning." -- Atlanta coach Larry Drew
STAT OF THE GAME
The Pacers now have their highest win total (37) since their last playoff season, 2005-06.
The Pacers took control right away, rolling up 33 points in the first quarter on 13-of-22 shooting. The shots stopped falling in the second when Indiana shot just 7-of-23 but Dahntay Jones repeatedly attacked the basket to draw fouls and keep things moving at the free-throw line and the Pacers led 56-50 at the break.
Granger was dominant in the third quarter, scoring 14 points including eight in a row as the Pacers extended their lead to 82-71 leading into the fourth quarter.
The Hawks tried to piece together a challenge in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, closing to 92-84 on a free-throw by Zaza Pachulia but Jeff Foster and Collison combined to score eight points in an 11-4 burst that pushed the advantage to 103-88 with less than five minutes remaining.
BY THE NUMBERS
Granger shot 9-of-18, including 8-of-11 from the free-throw line, adding seven rebounds to his 28 points. Collison was 7-of-10 for 16 points, adding 10 assists, four rebounds and two steals. Hibbert had 14 points, 11 rebounds and three assists and Tyler Hansbrough had 13 points. The Pacers shot .488, outrebounded the Hawks 49-36 and had 23 assists against just 11 turnovers.
Teague made 7-of-10 from the field, 7-of-9 from the line for his 21. Joe Johnson had 17 points for the Hawks, while Jamal Crawford had 13, Kirk Hinrich 11 and Pachulia and Al Horford 10 apiece. The Hawks shot .474 and had more turnovers (13) than assists (11).
- Tonight's 114 points represents the 14th time Indiana has topped 110 points this season, and the third time in the last five games.
- Playing in his hometown, Indianapolis Pike H.S. Alumnus Jeff Teague led the Hawks with 21 points, 17 in the fourth quarter.
- No Atlanta player had more than three assists tonight and the team's 11 assists in the game ties its season-low.
- Indiana outscored the Hawks, 54-42, in the paint tonight. That ties the Pacers' most points in the paint in the last 19 games.
- With their 23 tonight, the Pacers have averaged 25.33 assists per game in the last three.
- Mike Dunleavy's 3-pt FG tonight was his 100th of the season and he has made 100+ 3-pt FG in a season three times in his career, twice as a member of the Pacers.
- With his eight FTM tonight, Danny Granger has made 393 this season, second most in his six NBA seasons. Granger hit 404 FT in 2008-09.