Ten observations from Pacers 105, Hawks 95 . . .
1. The Hawks failed to win consecutive games for the first time this season in large part because they couldn’t get stops after halftime. The Pacers are the best three-point shooting team in the East but they didn’t need crazy shot-making to dominate the Hawks. After halftime the Pacers got all the open looks they wanted inside the three-point line and in transition while playing small and fast lineups. Meanwhile, the Hawks never could string together good possessions.
John Collins: “We came out the gates with a lot of energy. Played hard, played fast, played the way Coach wanted us to play. And then in the second half we kind of (dialed) it down a little bit and let off the gas.”
2. For one of the few times this season, Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer faulted his team’s effort: “There was just a few basic, fundamental plays, a couple in transition, a couple offensive boards. You have to commit to doing that for 48 minutes. You have to commit to getting back in transition defense. You have to commit to being good on the defensive boards, getting hits. Make an unselfish play. You may not get the rebound but a teammate will get it. We are standing there watching Thaddeus Young tip the ball back in. (They were) getting transition plays. Those kind of plays just set the tone for us not being able to maintain that level of play, that attention to detail, that focus that it takes for 48 minutes.”
3. The Pacers gained separation in the third quarter. Early in the period, they got out for transition scores. Late in the quarter, Pacers guards Darren Collison and Victor Oladipo took turns using screens, taking a couple of dribbles and sticking mid-range jumpers. It was too easy for them. The Hawks were 1 of 6 on 3-pointers in the third, with Ersan Ilyasova missing all three of his attempts.
“We had a big, long stretch at both ends of the court where we weren’t as good as we needed to be,” Budenholzer said. “We just need to be more competitive, more winning plays and more together for 48 minutes. I thought (we played) pretty high-level basketball for 24 minutes and we weren’t able to maintain that. That’s part of our growth.”
4. Oladipo entered the game 10th in NBA scoring average with a 59.4 true shooting percentage. Oladipo (23 points) got up 15 shots against the Hawks but only five of them were 3-point tries (and one of those was a heave late in the shot clock).
5. At times John Collins had trouble handling Turner’s length – after a rough stretch late in the first quarter, Budenholzer sent Miles Plumlee back in for the assignment. At the other end, the Pacers were a step slow trying to keep Collins away from the rim and, as a result, he earned six free-throw attempts and scored 18 points on seven shots. But Collins also had four turnovers with zero assists.
Budenholzer: “John does have moments where he makes plays that are promising, and then there are moments where we need to work with him and develop him: timing on boards and screens and different situations where he’s part of it. We are all in this–coaches, players. We’ve got to be better for 48 minutes and John is not any different.”
6. Dennis Schroder (eight points on 15 shots) mostly resisted the urge to force shots at the rim against Indiana’s considerable interior length and instead set up his teammates (eight assists). Defensively, Schroder kept going under screens by spinning away from them, a tactic that created a longer path back to the shooter. The effort was there, though.
7. I wrote about Taurean Prince’s improved 3-point shooting so naturally he missed 5 of 6 attempts against the Pacers. Prince also didn’t get to the basket or the free-throw line.
8. Bojan Bogdanovic, Prince’s Pacers counterpart, had been in an offensive funk lately but erupted for 19 points on 14 shots. Maybe Bogdanovic was trying to make amends after his panicked pass gave away a win to the Celtics on Monday night.
9. Isaiah Taylor has been at his best this season when he aggressively looks for scoring chances. He doesn’t do that much anymore. Marco Belinelli (13 points on 12 shots) never has that problem.
10. Plumlee was part of the fast start with two rim-running dunks. He had another one in the second quarter and added one more in the fourth. Lately, Plumlee is good for a couple of dunks per game. Before tonight 12 of his 19 field goals this season were dunks, according to Basketball-Reference.
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