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Hawks top Pacers for 7th straight win

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Atlanta Hawks are as hot as they have been in five years.

The Indiana Pacers, on the other hand, are experiencing a cold winter.

The Hawks ran their winning streak to seven games — their longest since 2009 — with a 108-92 rout of the Pacers on Monday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Center Al Horford scored 25 with eight rebounds for Atlanta (14-6), while guard Jeff Teague had 21 points and seven assists and played a major role in breaking open the game. Guard Kyle Korver scored 13 points and forward DeMarre Carroll 12 for the Hawks, who shot 51.9 percent and had 27 assists.

“Jeff Teague is very difficult to defend,” said Indiana coach Frank Vogel. “The fact he’s never been an All-Star is puzzling to me because he’s certainly an All-Star caliber player and I’m sure he’ll be there this year with their record where it is.”

Indiana (7-14), which lost six in a row in November, saw its current losing streak extend to five games.

Guard C.J. Miles scored all 15 of his points in the fourth quarter, including four 3-pointers, to match guard Rodney Stuckey’s 15 for the Pacers. Forward Luis Scola scored 12 as Indiana shot 44 percent and committed 17 turnovers.

It was another solid defense performance for the Hawks, who’ve held their last three opponents to averages of 83.7 points, .393 shooting overall and .225 from the 3-point line.

“Recently, it’s given us a chance to win some games and put us in a good spot,” said Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer. “We need to keep working on it because we can’t just talk about being better defensively we have to work on it and our activity and everything is what’s going to do that. We’ve had some good games but we can’t relax.”

Teague started the game quietly, with just a single bucket in the opening 21 1/2 minutes, but when Indiana put together its closest thing to a threat, he stepped into the spotlight, scoring 14 points in less than six minutes, spanning intermission as the Hawks pushed a 10-point lead to 68-47 with 8:25 left in the third.

“Just the rhythm of the game,” said Teague. “Just waited for my opportunity to make a play, and some of the opportunities I saw, I just tried to take advantage of them.”

Indiana posed no further threat in falling to 4-6 at home. The closest it got in the second half was 92-79 after a four-point play by Miles with 8:12 remaining.

“I thought our guys were trying, I thought they were giving the effort,” said Vogel, “but clearly the Hawks were the more energized team and we were just a step slow in most phases of the game.”

The Hawks established control quickly, using a quick 12-3 burst fueled by a pair of 3-pointers from Carroll to open a 24-14 lead in the first quarter. The second unit then produced all of the points in a 14-3 run that pushed the advantage to 38-21 early in the second. And, after the Pacers scored seven in a row to cut the lead to 49-39 late in the half, Teague attacked the rim for eight points in the closing minutes to push Atlanta’s advantage to 60-43 at the break.

“Our energy level throughout the whole 48 minutes is not what it should be,” said Scola. “We definitely have to start being ahead of the game from the beginning. It’s just something that we have to do. Teams are coming at us early and then when we try to react it’s just too hard. That has been a problem for us.”

NOTES: Indiana is in the midst of a stretch of eight consecutive games against teams whose record is .500 or better, with five on the road. The Pacers close out the week against the Clippers (14-5) Wednesday, at Toronto (15-5) Friday and against Portland (16-4) Saturday. … With Ian Mahinmi out 6 to 8 weeks with a plantar fascia injury in his left foot, Lavoy Allen has stepped into the Pacers’ backup center role. Allen actually has better statistics (6.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 21.1 minutes) than Mahinmi (4.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 18.3 minutes). … In the five-game losing streak, Indiana’s starters have been outscored 403-239, an average deficit of 32.8 points. That included a 78-42 deficit against the Hawks … Hawks F Paul Millsap is the only player in the league averaging at least 17 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and 0.9 blocked shots … The Hawks have scored at least 90 points in their first 20 games, their longest season-opening streak since 1989. … G John Jenkins and F Adreian Payne were healthy inactives for the Hawks … G Paul George (leg) and G George Hill (thigh) were Indiana’s inactives.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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