Ten observations: Hawks 107, Pacers 102

  1. After a listless performance against the Lakers on Monday, the Hawks took it to the Pacers for 3½ quarters and then survived a furious rally by the visitors, who cut a 23-point lead to four points in the final minute. The Hawks led 55-50 at halftime on the strength of strong two-way play by Dewayne Dedmon and Taurean Prince. The Hawks opened the second half with a 10-0 run during which they collected steals on Indiana’s first four possessions. The Hawks wobbled in the final quarter. John Collins’ putback score for a 99-93 lead ended a three-plus minute scoring drought and Dennis Schroder scored on three drives over the final 1:40.
  2. The Hawks leveraged the one consistent advantage they’ve had this season, forcing turnovers: 13 steals, led by Schroder’s five. The Hawks swarmed timid Pacers ball-handlers on drives into the paint and deflected lackluster passes. All night the Pacers found a sea of bodies and arms waiting for them when they got to the rim (season-high 11 blocked shots for the Hawks, led by Dedmon’s four). It was an impressive effort defensive effort, at least until the final six minutes.
  3. The Hawks came out flat against the Lakers on Monday. Coach Mike Budenholzer on starting the game better: “There’s no doubt that (Kent Bazemore) and Dennis and Taurean, they’ve kind of been steady in those starting spots. But the bigs, guys coming off the bench, the coaches, we’ve got to be ready and I think we will be.” He was right. The Hawks were spirited, if a bit ragged, from the start. 
  4. Dedmon was the catalyst. The Hawks center did it all during his first eight-minute stint: running the floor, soaring for rebounds, dunking lobs, deflecting passes, talking smack. In those eight minutes Dedmon produced eight points on four shots (two 3-pointers), two rebounds, two blocked shots and a steal. 
  5. Prince also had good bounce early. In 18 first-half minutes Prince had 15 points on eight shots (3-for-3 on 3-pointers) and five defensive rebounds. With Prince and Dedmon scoring efficiently the Hawks put up 55 first-half points despite getting zero points from Schroder and Bazemore, the team’s leading scorers on the season. 
  6. Schroder ended up with 14 points on 13 shots closed strong. In addition to the five steals, Schroder had five asssits and three rebounds. Schroder was sharp while defending pick-and-rolls and closing out on shooters.
  7. The Pacers dominated the Hawks in Indiana on Friday. Budenholzer’s blueprint for avoiding a repeat: “We need to have those 50-50 situations, more of them go our way. Play a little bit faster, play a little more aggressive. They had an energy and an aggressiveness that we didn’t match and we’ve got to do that tonight.” The Hawks did that, too, even if they slipped at the end.
  8. The Pacers generate a big chunk of their offense on mid-range jumpers: sixth in the league in frequency and second in field-goal percentage, according to Cleaning the Glass. They took plenty of them against the Hawks but most of them were challenged. 
  9. Hawks guard Jaylen Morris signed a 10-day contract this morning, participated in shootaround and then made his NBA debut in the first half. He played 12 minutes and was just 1-for-6 from the floor.
  10. Budenholzer went 11-deep as Malcolm Delaney played after missing two games with a knee injury. Delaney entered in the second quarter and made an immediate defensive impact with his active hands and persist work getting around screens. Delaney also earned four free throws in five minutes of the second quarter and made them all.

About the Author

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