The Indiana Pacers (2-3) played steady basketball through 36 minutes on Wednesday night against the Atlanta Hawks (2-1). In the second of a three-game road trip, Frank Vogel’s team looked much more competitive than they did the previous game in San Antonio. However, you must’ve noticed I said 36 minutes, not 48 minutes.
After falling behind by 10 early in the second quarter, the Pacers rallied to make the game close, 51-50 at halftime in Atlanta’s favor. David West looked like his old form from his days in New Orleans, playing rough in the paint and pounding his defender to create easy shots around the basket. West finished with 20 points on 9-17 shooting from the field to go along with six boards.
George Hill once again played a great game as well. He, too, finished with 20 points on 7-12 shooting and five assists.
It is the rest of the starters and the Pacers’ bench that needs to step up to fill Danny Granger’s shoes. The rest of the team shot a combined 19-55 from the floor. All-Star Roy Hibbert was 4-12 for nine points. He also had seven rebounds. Gerald Green, brought to the team to be the No. 1 scoring option off the bench, was 2-8 from the floor and finished with five points.
It simply is not the kind of production Frank Vogel is looking for from his players. The third quarter, which had plagued the Pacers through the first four games, was dominated by the blue and gold. They outscored Atlanta 27-14, at one point going on a 16-0 run to take a commanding 77-65 lead going into the fourth quarterz.
Suddenly, the momentum changed. It was as if the Pacers thought that would be enough to win the game. The Hawks answered with an 18-0 run of their own, outscoring the Pacers a jaw-dropping 24-9 in the final 12 minutes. NINE points. It was obvious while watching the fourth quarter the Pacers did not seem like they really wanted to win the game.
The wings were launching threes from way downtown. Hibbert could not establish good post position and was missing his shots when he did. David West barely touched the rock down the stretch. Indiana forgot what their game plan was and simply collapsed after 36 minutes.
The Indiana Pacers head to Minnesota to battle the Timberwolves on Friday night. It will mark the final game of the Pacers’ three-game road trip, as they look to capture at least one win and head home 3-3.