Hawks fight back, get Game 3 in Atlanta
by Lang Greene, USA TODAY Sports
ATLANTA – The Atlanta Hawks proved on Saturday night they’re not willing to give up on their season without putting up a fight.
The Hawks entered game three of their first round series versus the Indiana Pacers down 2-0 and seemingly in serious trouble after suffering two embarrassing blowouts on the road in games one and two.
In the series’ first two games, the Hawks were plagued by their inability to rebound effectively against the physically larger Pacers. The Hawks also had no answer for Indiana’s All-Star forward Paul George and point guard George Hill, who both entered the contest averaging over 20 points per game in the series.
But in game three, it was a completely different story as the Hawks rolled to a 90-69 victory.
Indiana now leads the series 2-1.
Atlanta’s frontcourt tandem of Al Horford and Josh Smith combined to score 40 points on 18 of 33 shooting from the field, while also helping the Hawks close the rebuilding gap significantly from the series’ first two contests.
The Hawks also limited the potent combo of George and Hill to just 19 points on 5 of 19 shooting from the floor, while forcing a total of 22 turnovers from the frustrated Pacers who were unable to find a consistent rhythm throughout the game.
The Pacers have now dropped 12 consecutive games at Philips Arena and in the process failed to take a commanding lead in the series, giving the Hawks new life, headed into game four on Monday night.
Hawks head coach Larry Drew inserted seldom used center Johan Petro into the starting lineup in an effort to provide more size, sliding Horford to power forward and Smith to small forward, and the results were immediate as Atlanta roared out to a 27-14 lead after the first quarter.
The game never became much closer from that point on as the Hawks continued their dominance by opening up a 54-30 lead at the half behind a combined 24 points from Horford and Smith.
“This team did something they’ve done all year long and that’s respond after two losses in Indiana,” Drew said … [For more on Hawks fight back, get Game 3 in Atlanta, click here.]