Trailing by 20 points to begin the fourth quarter, things looked grim for the Pacers on the second night of their four-game road trip.
But with under two minutes remaining in the game, Domantas Sabonis sent in an offensive rebound, cutting Atlanta's lead to just two points and breathing life into yet another frantic Pacers comeback.
Unfortunately for the come-from-behind effort, Atlanta point guard Dennis Schroder came up big in crunch time, making three layups in the final minutes to provide a cushion for the Hawks, who went on to close out the game 107-102 on Wednesday night at the Philips Arena.
"It was a great fight by the team, but we just have to start from the first quarter like that, coming out hard, playing as a team," explained Bojan Bogdanovic. "We didn't show that the first half."
The loss was the second straight defeat for the Blue & Gold, opening up their four-game road trip with consecutive losses to teams with fewer than 20 wins on the season.
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Perhaps most alarming for the Pacers (34-27) in the loss was Indiana's carelessness with the ball. Atlanta (19-43) forced Indiana into a season-high 24 turnovers on the night, turning it in to 29 points.
For Indiana, Bojan Bogdanovic led the way offensively, scoring 26 points.
But the Pacers were overcome by a balanced scoring effort from the Hawks, who used double-digit scoring performances from six players to put away the game.
Much like they've done all season when facing an uphill climb, the Pacers attempted yet another odds-defying comeback.
Despite trailing by as much as 23 points, Bogdanvoic was locked in down the stretch, knocking the score down to a 97-91 Hawks lead with a 3-pointer from the wing.
In what ended up being a fourth quarter in which the Pacers outscored the Hawks 37-22, Indiana got the lead down to as little as two points in the final two minutes when Sabonis completed his putback basket. But from there, the Hawks were able to find the offense they needed to survive the onslaught of scoring from Indiana, closing out the game at the free throw line.
The turnover issue plagued the Pacers from the start, as they coughed it up seven times in the first quarter. Even with the early miscues, the Pacers only trailed 28-27 after the first 12 minutes of play thanks to some solid marksmanship to start the game.
"You can't have 24 turnovers," said Pacers head coach Nate McMillan. "We've been a team that has taken care of the ball – one of the better teams in the league. Tonight, there was a lot of one-on-one play, playing in traffic, just loose with the basketball."
To begin the second quarter, Atlanta's second-year wing Taurean Prince caught fire, knocking down his third 3-pointer of the evening as the Hawks started to open up a lead.
When the hosts extended their lead to eight points, the Pacers began to mount a charge, scoring 10 unanswered points, three of which came on a difficult and-one bucket by Lance Stephenson. Following their sprint, Atlanta fired back, reeling of a 9-2 run of their own to take a 55-50 edge into the halftime locker room.
The Pacers hoped to open the second half on a stronger note, but quickly faltered when the third quarter got underway. Indiana committed a turnover on each of its first four possessions of the third and allowed the Hawks to score 10 unanswered points to go up by 15.
While the Pacers made a brief run in the third to get things within reach, Atlanta's offense once again took flight, finishing the the third quarter having outscored the Pacers 30-15 to take a 20-point lead into the fourth.
That looked like it may have been the end of the night for the Pacers, until the team delivered yet another fourth quarter rally. But for the second game in a row, the visiting Pacers were unable to get over the hump, stumbling on the opening half of their four-game road swing.
"Once again, we got outworked tonight," McMillan said after the game. "I thought in the Dallas game, we got outworked. I thought tonight, we got outworked. We're getting a taste of what it's going to be like going down the stretch with these remaining games."
Inside the Numbers
Domantas Sabonis recorded a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
After scoring just 15 points in the third quarter, the Pacers erupted for 37 in the fourth.
The Hawks outrebounded the Pacers 49-43.
Atlanta outscored Indiana 56-40 for points in the paint.
You Can Quote Me On That
"When you're turning the ball over to a team that has athleticism – they're quick, and you have to respect that. They got after us. They were the team that applied the pressure on the catch, on the dribble, disrupted our rhythm, and basically did the things that they needed to do to win the game. That's supposed to be us. It didn't happen tonight." -Pacers head coach Nate McMillan
"We didn't come out with the mentality we wanted in the second half. We wanted to be the aggressors, but they came out harder than us and that made that lead. We were behind the whole game." -Bojan Bogdanovic
"I was just trying to be aggressive. I thought I didn't do that in the first half. I tried to be aggressive defensively and get my team going. In the fourth quarter, I felt like attacking. That's what I did. Dedmon and John (Collins) set great screens." -Hawks guard Dennis Shroder
- Hawks rookie John Collins led his team in scoring with 16 points.
- Myles Turner played just 16 minutes after dealing with foul trouble for most of the night.
- Eight of the nine Pacers players who saw minutes committed at least one turnover on Wednesday night. Glenn Robinson III was the lone exception.
Stat of the Night
Indiana's 24 turnovers were a season high.
Following a four-game road trip, the Pacers return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse to host Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday, March 5 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets »