Monday, March 25th, 2013 at 7:00 PM EDT at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Game Rewind: IND 100, ATL 94
Scott Agness | March 25, 2013
Through three quarters, it looked as if the Indiana Pacers were going to run away with a 20-plus point win.
Then entered the bottom five guys on the Atlanta Hawks’ bench, a bunch that played the entire fourth quarter – a group that sees the floor on limited basis and had something to prove. That group refused to hand the game over. The Pacers (44-27) led by as many 28 and hung on for the 100-94 win, ahead of a big four-game road trip.
With 1:09 remaining in the fourth, the Hawks (39-32) scored nine straight points to get within four. After a couple missed shots by the Pacers, Hawks guard John Jenkins brought the ball across midcourt then lost it to D.J. Augustin. Augustin flung the ball to Gerald Green, who was wide-open in the right corner. With no hesitation – and plenty of time on the shot clock and 34 seconds left in the game – Green let it fly.
Related: Reaction to Green's 3-Pointer »
It was one of those ‘No, no no ... whew!” moments. That’s what Coach Vogel seemed to be thinking.
“It’s not a bad shot if it goes in,” Vogel said with a grin postgame. The shot gave the Pacers a seven-point cushion and essentially secured the win.
“I like taking big shots,” Green admitted. “I knew it was going to be a shot to where if I hit it, it was going to put us in a good situation to win the game. I’m just glad that I made it.”
The Pacers got in that situation after making some bad decisions and turning the ball over – 10 times, in fact, in the final period. First, Atlanta used a 16-4 run to open the quarter and make it a game again, separated by only 10 points.
The win was even more significant because they were without the services of George Hill (left groin strain) and Lance Stephenson (right hip flexor strain). The backcourt duo were scratched before the game and joined David West (back) and Danny Granger (knee) on the sidelines.
“The big picture thing here is we got a big, big win,” Vogel said. “With three starters out, a lot of guys stepped up, in particular Jeff Pendergraph and Orlando Johnson. In the first half, they really gave us a huge lift and blew the game open.”
Johnson was hot in the second quarter and connected from all different spots the floor. He made a layup, short floater over the 7-foot frame of Johan Petro, an outside shot, followed by a 17-footer. The rookie made four of the Pacers’ final five field goals of the half and had a career-high 15 points at intermission.
“I had my legs under me and everything was just feeling good,” Johnson said. “I just wanted to be aggressive out there and keep going at them.”
“It’s rare when you see a rookie bench guy get in the zone, but that’s what he was in in the first half,” said Vogel. “He just got in a zone. Everything he threw up was going in and every decision he made was the right decision.”
Johnson piggy-backed the play of Pendergraph, who scored 12 points in the second and 14 for the game, tying his season high. The Pacers outscored the Hawks by 15 in the second for a 15-point halftime advantage.
Despite, the sloppy play against an uncharacteristic lineup, the short-handed Pacers picked up a much-needed win as the regular season winds down. The victory was not only important because they were without four guys, but also because the Hawks are a team that has given them fits this season.
“A very, very important win for our team,” Vogel declared it.
Inside the Numbers
With 17 points and 13 rebounds, Roy Hibbert recorded his 18th double-double of the season. It’s his sixth in the past 12 games.
Tyler Hansbrough had his fourth double-double in the past five games, finishing with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Atlanta’s 22 fast break points are the most Indiana has allowed by an opponent all season.
Through three quarters, the Pacers outscored the Hawks in the paint, 42-26. In the fourth, the Hawks got inside and outscored the Pacers, 14-4.
The Pacers are now seven wins (or Chicago losses) away from securing the Central Division title.
Tonight’s home win is the Pacers’ 29th of the season, their highest mark since since 2004.
“They put five guys in that hadn’t played all night, came in with great energy. That’s what you do when you’re down 22 points, you try and change the game, somehow. You pick up full-court, you start trapping, play some zone, and mix things up. ... We have guys that aren’t used to being with each other anyway because of our injury situation and they got us a little bit out of rhythm.” – Frank Vogel on the fourth quarter
“All year we’ve had to battle guys being out. We’ve had to have guys step up and take larger roles. That was the case tonight.” – Paul George
“It’s very high. I’ve got a great deal of trust in him. He plays within himself and that’s probably his best attribute. He just makes winning plays night in and night out. It’s been really impossible for me to go away from him in the rotation.” – Frank Vogel on Orlando Johnson.
“I just want to let them know that I’m ready. I work hard and whenever [coach] puts me in, I gotta show him that I’m ready to contribute. That’s just been the biggest thing for me – staying ready.” – Orlando Johnson
“Just because we built a lead doesn’t mean we get to relax. I think that’s what happened. I would feel great if we had won by 20-plus, at least 15-plus. It can’t be what happened because it was a downhill slope from there ... I think that’s unacceptable.” – Roy Hibbert
Stat of the Game
Indiana’s bench outscored Atlanta’s in the first half, 31-12. The second half was a different story, 36-2, in favor of Atlanta.
- The Pacers and Hawks split the season series, with each team winning their pair of home games.
- Due to a lower-back sprain, David West missed his fifth-straight game.
- Coach Vogel is “hopeful” that Hill, Stephenson, West and Granger can play Wednesday in Houston.
- Indiana, sporting their pinstripes, and Atlanta each wore their Hardwood Classics uniforms.
The Pacers will be on the road for their final West Coast trip over the next seven days, beginning in Houston on Wednesday (8 PM EST).