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Pacers finally win in Atlanta

Alan Draper profile picture
Sports Editor
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ATLANTA –Indiana Pacers forward Paul George was pleased to put an end to another streak of futility, this time in Atlanta.

George and forward David West combined for 40 points and helped the Pacers to an 89-85 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, giving Indiana its first regular-season win in Atlanta since 2006.

George scored nine of his 18 points in the third quarter and West had eight of his 22 points in that period, when the Pacers erased a one-point halftime deficit to help end a 12-game regular-season losing streak in Atlanta. Earlier this year the Pacers ended losing streaks at Utah and San Antonio.

“We struggle here,” said George, who is averaging 23 points and 9.5 rebounds against Atlanta this season. “I was aware of it. I don’t want a losing streak anywhere, so that was another edge to get a win tonight.”

The Pacers (38-10) rallied for eight straight points to break open a 47-47 tie in the third quarter.

Indiana led by as many as 16 points with 8:10 left in the game and withstood an Atlanta comeback that trimmed the margin to two points on a 3-pointer by forward Cartier Martin with 14 seconds remaining. Pacers forward Danny Granger iced the game by making two free throws with 3.9 seconds left.

“We’ve had some struggles here, but not anything we’re going to lose sleep over,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. “We were confident we could get a win here.”

Indiana’s main problem in the first half was turnovers. The Pacers committed 14, which led to 17 Atlanta points and allowed the Hawks to lead 43-42 at the break.

“We turned the ball over way too many times in the first half,” George said. “The message at halftime was for us to take care of the ball.”

Indiana had only five turnovers in the second half and limited Atlanta’s all-star forward Paul Millsap to seven points on 2-for-11 shooting.

“We’re very happy with the win,” Vogel said. “For the most part we held a pretty explosive offense down to 85 points, a pretty strong effort. If we get the turnovers under control we have a double-digit road win.”

Atlanta (25-22) had its two-game winning streak stopped. The Hawks’ top two scorers came off the bench. Forward Mike Scott scored 15 points and center Elton Brand added 12. Martin, who was re-signed to a 10-day contract on Feb. 1, scored all eight of his points during Atlanta’s failed fourth-quarter comeback.

“Offensively it wasn’t one of our better nights,” Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. “You have to give Indiana and their defense credit for that. They’re one of the best defensive teams in this league for a reason.”

Atlanta played much of the second half without point guard Jeff Teague. He left with 3:11 left in the third quarter and didn’t play in the fourth period due to the coach’s decision. He had nine points and seven assists.

Indiana forward Lance Stephenson was shaken up midway in the third quarter on a drive to the basket. Stephenson was fouled by Millsap as he attempted to split two defenders, and he landed on his back when he fell. He remained in the game to shoot the free throw but left with a sore lower back and did not return. He finished with 10 points.

The game was much different from the last meeting in Atlanta on Jan. 8 when the Hawks won 97-87. Atlanta started that game with a 12-0 lead and held Indiana to a season-low 12 points in the first quarter and 32 in the first half.

“It was the defensive effort by them and we were out of sync,” Brand said. “We missed some shots that we normally knock down.”

NOTES: Indiana is now 5-0 when F David West records a double-double. … Indiana C Andrew Bynum, signed as a free agent on Saturday, was inactive. … Atlanta G Kyle Korver extended his NBA-record streak for consecutive games with a 3-point basket to 116. Korver knocked down his first attempt with 9:11 left in the first quarter against the Pacers. … Atlanta G John Jenkins had lower-back surgery on Monday and will miss the remainder of the season. The second-year player from Vanderbilt, the team’s first-round draft choice in 2012, had been limited to 13 games this season. Jenkins has not played since Dec. 26, when the injury flared up. He was averaging 3.1 points and 1.7 rebounds in 12.2 minutes. … Atlanta assigned G Jared Cunningham to the Bakersfield Jam of the Development League. He had appeared in five games for the Hawks. … Atlanta plays again Wednesday at New Orleans and has four of its next five games on the road. Indiana hosts Portland on Friday and plays four of its next five at home.

Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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