Ten observations from Hawks loss at Pacers

  1. Save for a brief stretch of spirited play early in the fourth quarter, the Hawks had nothing. They were ragged with the ball and the Pacers took advantage with a barrage of steals and transition scores—several times they just plain beat the Hawks back down the floor. By the time the Pacers opened up 23-point lead late midway through the third quarter the Hawks had committed 20 turnovers leading to 27 points by the Pacers. The Pacers also hammered the Hawks on the boards.
  2. This effort wasn’t nearly good enough for the Hawks to compete against Indiana even with an off night by star scorer Victor Oladipo. He had 14 points on 16 shots but his teammates combined for 102 points on 85 tries. Thaddeus Young (20 points on 16 shots) was the offensive catalyst for the Pacers in the first half and Domantas Sabonis (21 points on 13 shots) was a force as they beat back Atlanta’s attempts to get back in the game after halftime. 
  3. Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer held out Ersan Ilyasova, who has a tentative buyout agreement with the team, and started rookie John Collins in his place. Mike Muscala started the second half instead of Dewayne Dedmon. Before garbage time Budenhozler had played five bench guys: Isaiah Taylor, Tyler Dorsey, DeAndre’ Bembry, Mike Muscala and Miles Plumlee. 
  4. Dedmon (three points on two shots, two rebounds in 11 minutes) didn’t play after halftime. The Hawks didn’t announce an injury for Dedmon. 
  5. Before tonight the Collins-Dewayne Dedmon paring had a +0.4 rating in 609 non-garbage time possessions, according to Cleaning the Glass. The defensive numbers especially have been very good for that pairing, in particular with rim protection (both in frequency and shooting percentage allowed). That makes sense: Collins and Dedmon both are mobile, quick-jumping bigs who cover a lot of ground in the paint and go after every attempt around the rim. 
  6. Kent Bazemore was going back-and-forth with Oladipo for much of the night. Bazemore got the best of that matchup. He was good defensively against Oladipo and had 12 points 10 shots, five rebounds, two assists and three rebounds.
  7. Taurean Prince had two early steals by anticipating passes and jumping them. He stepped out of bounds trying to take the first one the other way and dropped an awkward pass to Collins on the second. Collins corralled the ball and scored. Prince also had three turnovers in the first quarter and finished with six. Prince did find his shot a bit while scoring 14 points on 14 shots and had seven rebounds in 27 minutes.
  8. Isaiah Taylor played 22 minutes after he was questionable to play because of an ankle injury. He looked to have his same quickness and, for the first time in a while, was aggressive driving to the basket. Taylor had 17 points on 10 shots with six assists and two turnovers.
  9. DeAndre Bembry had some nice moments in two games before the break. Tonight he was physical when driving to the basket (four free-throw attempts and five shots in ) 25 minutes and on the boards (six rebounds). But Bembry missed three of those free-throw attempts and whipped a few wild passes that made for tough catches for his teammates 
  10. Ilyasova’s departure opened some minutes in the power rotation for Plumlee. Nearly every game he will make a play or two that remind you he’s still an athletic big guy. Tonight, it was charging down the lane for a double-pump dunk and this sensational block of Young’s dunk attempt. 

About the Author

Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham has covered the Hawks and other beats for the AJC since 2010.