Facing a must-win situation on Saturday night, the Atlanta Hawks responded in a big way with a convincing 90-69 victory over the Indiana Pacers. The Hawks still trail the series, 2-1, but the win gives them momentum with another home game coming up.
The Hawks controlled the game from the opening tip. They went on a 18-0 run midway through the first half and never looked back, taking a 24-point advantage into the half. Atlanta held the Pacers to just 27 percent from the floor, one of the worst marks in recent playoff history.
Coach Larry Drew altered the Hawks starting lineup after a couple of poor starts in Games 1 and 2. Johan Petro made the start at center, shifting Al Horford to power forward and Josh Smith to the wing. The team responded with much more energy on both ends of the floor to start, and the Pacers seemed overwhelmed by Atlanta's size advantage around the rim.
Horford responded with 26 points and 16 rebounds, including six on the offensive end. Smith found himself in foul trouble once again in the second half, but still managed to put together a well-rounded performance with 14 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals. Perhaps most importantly, Smith played strong defense on Paul George whenever he was matched up with him.
Point guard Jeff Teague suffered a potential injury scare late in the first half. He hit the floor pretty hard after being bumped in the lane, and when trying to brace his fall he appeared to injure his right elbow. Teague was assisted by the team's training staff and sat out for a couple of minutes, but was then able to return to the floor.
It seems Teague will be fine moving forward, although it will be a storyline to keep an eye on in the coming days.
For Indiana, they just couldn't get anything to go on the offensive end. They turned the ball over an astounding 22 times, one of their worst marks of the season. They shot just 4-for-25 from behind the three-point arc. David West led the way with 18 points and six rebounds, while George had 16 points and nine boards.
Game 4 is scheduled for Monday night in Atlanta. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.