A look at three key moments in the Hawks’ 90-69 victory over the Pacers Saturday in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference playoff series.
After going with a small starting lineup in the first two games of the series – sizeable Pacers victories – coach Larry Drew elected to go with a bigger unit. By starting Johan Petro at center, it allowed Al Horford to play power forward and Josh Smith to play small forward. Smith matched up defensively with Pacers’ All-Star Paul George, who finished with 16 points after averaging 25 in the first two games. The move also meant George had to defend Smith, who took advantage of him in the low post several times.
“I just tried to keep a body on him, knowing and understanding that he is the focal point in the perimeter as far as what they do offensively,” Smith said.
The flagrant foul
With 6:55 remaining in the second half, Al Horford was dribbling down the center of the court following a rebound when he was pushed by David West. The two teams had to be separated after Jeff Teague confronted West, who was called for a Flagrant I foul. Teague was hit with a technical foul. Horford said after the game that he did not think the play was dirty but rather part of the physical nature of the playoffs. He was surprised by Teague’s reaction.
“I was very surprised,” Horford said. “After I found out I said ‘Was that you that ran up to him?’ He said ‘Yeah’ but he said it in his cool way. I was proud of the way he had my back.”
D.J. Augustin made the free throw after the technical called on Teague. Horford missed his two free throws after the flagrant foul. The Hawks needed to score on the ensuing possession or after all the drama the Pacers would have pulled a point closer. On the possession, Anthony Tolliver hit a 3-pointer. The basket gave the Hawks a 41-18 lead. The frenzy of the home crowd went to another level and the rout continued.