Usually when we watch Roy Hibbert play, he punishes other centers with his stature and gets his statistics. He’s playing like the Pacers wanted him to. But last night’s game, he was playing like he was a draft-bust. Al Horford punished Hibbert as the Atlanta Hawks improved to 16-9 with a 97-83 victory over the Indiana Pacers, who now fall to 11-11. Hibbert had six points and eight rebounds while Horford had 16 points and 16 rebounds.
Josh Smith was a big banged-up entering the game, but was able to come through and he put up 21 points. Smith would continuously hit big buckets after the Pacers kept cutting the lead. They kept cutting the lead to seven points, but Smith kept answering back like the leader of the team he is.
“My team was looking for me, and I was able to deliver,” Smith said.
The Hawks started off real bad, going one-of-twelve. Smith would start off with four straight misses. But the same could go for Indiana, as they could not take advantage of the Hawks’ struggles, and with that, Atlanta was leading 16-14 by the end of the first quarter.
“We just had to shake the rust off,” coach Larry Drew said. “The good thing about us not scoring right away is we were playing good defense.”
In the second quarter, the Hawks got rolling thanks to back-up point guard Jeff Teague, who is a great player off the bench for the team.
“His speed and his energy when he got into the game got us going,” Drew said.
Mike Dunleavy led the Pacers in points and rebounds, having 16 and nine respectively. Brandon Rush and Danny Granger couldn’t put up the points they were used to, and that led to them each having 14 points. Granger and Hibbert were three-of-14 from the field. It was another struggle for both players, just like the Phoenix Suns match-up.
“It’s a credit to their defense,” Pacers coach Jim O’Brien said. “They really defended us well.”
This brings the Hawks up to eight straight wins over the Pacers including six straight at home.
“It’s a game,” O’Brien said. “I could care less about a building or against a team. We lost a game. Get on with life.”
The Pacers need to start getting what the Hawks do. Apparently, Atlanta already knows what Indiana is up to.
“It takes its toll,” Dunleavy said. “These guys have had our number the last seven, eight times we’ve played.”
Hibbert wasn’t dominant like he was all season so far. Jim O’Brien had some words to say after the game, hopefully to pump Hibbert up for the next game.
“He shut down Roy,” O’Brien said of Horford bullying Hibbert down low in the post. “He didn’t give Roy anything in the low post. He was more physical than Roy. He’s a heck of a player. They have a really good basketball team.”
Atlanta was taking so much control that they built a 43-21 lead in the second quarter. It was not Indiana’s game at all. Indiana drops to 5-6 on road games, and hopefully things don’t happen like they did last season when Indiana only won nine road games.
The Pacers will face the Chicago Bulls next on Monday in a Central Division showdown.
Come on Pacers!