Bruce Brown
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Game Rewind: Pacers 126, Hawks 108

Friday, Jan. 12 at 7:30 PM ET at State Farm Arena

Game Recap: Pacers 126, Hawks 108

Game Recap

Even without Tyrese Haliburton, the Pacers keep breaking offensive records.

Indiana set a new franchise record by shooting 67.1 percent from the field and eight players scored in double figures in a 126-108 victory on Friday night in Atlanta to open a six-game road trip. The Pacers (23-15) have now won three straight and nine of their last 10.

Buddy Hield and Obi Toppin led Indiana with 18 points apiece off the bench. Toppin went a perfect 7-for-7 from the field and tallied six rebounds and four assists, while Hield went 7-for-11 from the field and 4-for-6 from 3-point range while also collecting three blocks.

The Pacers set a franchise record with 50 assists against Atlanta in a 150-116 victory at Gainbridge Fieldhouse last Friday. A week later, they dished out another 41 assists against the Hawks (15-23) while breaking the franchise mark for best field goal percentage in a game. The previous high was .667 in a win at Minnesota on Oct. 24, 2017.

"The spirit is really good, the spirit of the group," Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said after the victory. "The guys that were in the game were playing together, encouraging each other. The guys on the bench were up encouraging the guys that were playing. When you have that kind of synergy, you can have some special nights."

With Haliburton sidelined for the second straight game with a left hamstring strain, fellow point guards Andrew Nembhard and T.J. McConnell combined for 20 assists, with Nembhard tallying 10 points and six dimes in the starting lineup and McConnell amassing six points and 14 assists off the bench.

"That's our M.O. really on offense," Nembhard said. "We play fast, we get the ball moving, we're super random. When we're playing that way we're going to fall into having a lot of guys score the ball."

The Pacers hit 11 of their first 13 shots on Friday, racing out to a 24-16 lead. Atlanta then reeled off 10 unanswered points to briefly take the lead, but Indiana's second unit closed the opening frame with a 10-4 run to give the Blue & Gold a 34-30 lead after one.

The Pacers went 16-for-19 from the field and scored 28 points in the paint in the first quarter, but also committed seven turnovers in the frame.

Indiana's bench continued their strong play to open the second quarter. Toppin converted a three-point play on the first possession of the frame, McConnell made a mid-range jumper the next trip down the floor, then Bennedict Mathurin got a breakaway layup.

That forced a timeout from Hawks head coach Quin Snyder. Out of the stoppage, McConnell stole Atlanta's inbounds pass and dished to Toppin, who converted another layup plus the foul. Toppin hit the free throw, then Hield drained a three on Indiana's next possession to cap a 13-0 Pacers run to start the quarter.

The Pacers led by as many as 19 points in the quarter, but the Hawks fought back just before halftime, scoring on their final five possessions. Saddiq Bey, Jalen Johnson, and Dejounte Murray all hit threes before Johnson made a dunk and then Trae Young converted a three-point play with 5.8 seconds remaining. That 14-2 Hawks run trimmed Indiana's lead to 66-62 before Bruce Brown raced down and converted a layup at the buzzer to push the margin back to six entering the intermission.

Indiana rebuilt its lead in the third quarter thanks to a 12-2 run that featured threes from Aaron Nesmith and Nembhard and made it 90-72 with 3:55 remaining in the frame.

Toppin's dunk with 33.4 seconds left in the quarter extended the lead to 20 points. Johnson answered with a slam of his own just before the third quarter buzzer to trim Indiana's lead to 99-81 entering the fourth.

The Pacers put the game away early in the final frame with a 10-0 run that pushed the lead to 114-89. McConnell set up Toppin twice more in that stretch, including tossing a lob over his head which Toppin finished with a two-hand slam.

Indiana led by as many as 27 in the fourth quarter. The only drama in the final minutes was whether the Pacers could maintain a high enough field goal percentage to set a new franchise record. Two late baskets by rookie center Oscar Tshiebwe were enough to keep Indiana above 67 percent.

Mathurin tallied 15 points off the bench on 6-of-9 shooting. Fellow reserve Isaiah Jackson stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting, five rebounds, four blocks, and four steals.

Nesmith tallied 13 points while going 5-for-6 from the field and 3-for-3 from 3-point range. Brown added 12 points, while starting center Myles Turner finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and two steals.

"A really good effort by our guys," Carlisle said. "...It's two wins without Tyrese and that's really important right now as we head (out) West."

Murray led all scorers with 29 points, going 13-for-18 from the field and 3-for-6 from 3-point range. Bey added 17 points, Johnson scored 16, and Young had 13 points and six assists for Atlanta.

The Pacers will head West for the rest of their longest road trip of the season. They play on Sunday afternoon in Denver against the defending NBA champion Nuggets before continuing on to Utah, Sacramento, Portland, and Phoenix over the next week.

Inside the Numbers

Indiana shot 84.2 percent from the field in the first quarter on Friday, the best field goal percentage in a quarter by any team in the NBA this season, according to Sportradar.

McConnell's 14 assists were his most in a game this season. His previous high was 11 on Dec. 2 at Miami.

The Pacers matched their season high with 76 points in the paint, outscoring Atlanta by 28 points on the interior. They also had 76 points in the paint at Miami on Dec. 2.

Jackson matched his season high with four blocks and matched his career high with four steals. He is just the fourth player in the NBA this season to amass 10 or more points, five or more rebounds, four or more steals, and four or more blocks in a single game, joining Daniel Gafford, Victor Wembanyama, and Ausar Thompson. Each of those players logged 25 or more minutes. Jackson played just 18 on Friday.

Indiana's bench outscored the Hawks' reserves 73-26. The Pacers entered the night leading the league in bench points (50.8 per game) and have scored more bench points than their opponent in 32 of 38 games this season.

The Pacers have done an exceptional job defensively on Hawks star guard Young in both of their wins over Atlanta over the last week. Young entered the night seventh in the NBA in scoring (27.8 points per game) and second in assists (11 per contest). Indiana limited him to 13 points and six assists — both season lows — the same totals he had a week ago at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Young went just 4-for-17 from the field and 2-for-6 from 3-point range on Friday after going just 4-for-18 from the field and 1-for-11 from beyond the arc last week in Indiana.

Indiana won despite committing a season-high 27 turnovers, seven more than their previous high this season. The Pacers' 27 giveaways were the second most in any NBA game this season (Golden State had 28 turnovers in an overtime game at Oklahoma City on Dec. 8) and the most turnovers by the Pacers in any game since they had 32 at Charlotte on Nov. 4, 1999.

Indiana Pacers Postgame Media Availability (at Atlanta Hawks) | January 12, 2024

You Can Quote Me On That

"When the ball's moving like that, shots tend to go in more often. We had a good points in the paint number, we were aggressive getting to the rim, and a lot of our threes came off of penetration and those are the best ones." -Carlisle on the keys to Indiana's record-setting shooting night

"People don't really realize that's one of the main things that we do is score in the paint. Our movement creates problems where guys are kind of mismatched on the weakside and opens that paint up." -Nembhard on the Pacers' focus on attacking the paint

"Everybody has an important job. We're going to play 10 guys on most nights. You're basically tag-teaming your position with somebody else. You go play your butt off and then you high-five the guy coming in and you encourage him. That's how we've got to do business right now." -Carlisle on the buy-in in the locker room right now

"Everyone's making a collective effort with Tyrese out. He's the engine that makes us go...No one can replicate what Tyrese does. So as a group, me and Drew have to do better at getting people involved. I think we've done a good job of that, but credit to the rest of the group (for) sharing the ball and making the extra pass. It's just really fun to be out there and it's awesome to watch." -McConnell on finding ways to win without Haliburton

"We've got a team full of killers. Everybody can go from the bottom to the top. I think it showed tonight just how much depth we (have), even Oscar getting in at the end went in there and did his thing." -Jackson on the Pacers' balanced offensive attack

"All our guys are really taking the challenge. It's a tough challenge defending in the NBA in 2024. You've got to do it as a team and you've got to really react well. You've got to help each other and you can't let bad things on offense affect you...I was real proud of the group." -Carlisle on the Pacers' improved defensive performance in recent weeks

"He's a great player and we're giving him a lot of attention. We spent a lot of time game-planning for him. He had some looks that he normally makes that didn't go in tonight and the last game." -Carlisle on slowing down Young in the last two matchups

Stat of the Night

The Pacers have set a different offensive franchise record in all three of their games against Atlanta this season. They scored an NBA franchise-record 157 points in an In-Season Tournament game in Atlanta on Nov. 21. They dished out a franchise-best 50 assists in their win at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Jan. 5. And they set a new record for best field goal percentage in a game on Friday night, making 67.1 percent of their shots against the Hawks.

Noteworthy

  • With Friday's victory, the Pacers have won the season series with Atlanta for the first time since 2020-21. Indiana and Atlanta will meet once more on the final day of the regular season on April 14 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
  • Indiana is 12-2 on the year when seven or more players score in double figures and 4-0 when eight players score 10 or more points. They are 14-3 when three or more bench players score in double figures.
  • Pacers rookie forward Jarace Walker missed his second straight game due to an upper respiratory infection. He did not travel with the team to Atlanta, but could join them later on the trip.

Up Next

The Pacers travel to Denver to take on the Nuggets on Sunday, Jan. 14 at 3:30 PM ET.

Tickets

After a six-game road trip, the Pacers will return to Gainbridge Fieldhouse to host Nikola Jokic and the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets >>