There is a ton of competition in the Eastern Conference when you look at seeds three through eight. The Celtics (third seed) have just five games between them and Detroit (eighth seed), and all the teams in the middle are separated by no more than three games. In Atlanta, on Sunday, the Hawks played host to the Pacers, who are sixth and seventh in the East, respectively.
Both teams have been decent this year and the matchup between them would make for a thrilling contest, right? Wrong. The Hawks slammed the Pacers by 29 points, 104-75.
It was an all-around struggle for Indiana and they got off to a very slow start, tallying just 19 first quarter points on 33% shooting. Atlanta shot a bit better, 46% from the field, but going 4/8 from three helped them jump out to a 30-point quarter. Al Horford led the way with nine, and Thabo Sefolosha had seven off the bench.
The second quarter was a little better for the Pacers, who were able to hold the Hawks to 22 points as they scored 21. Both teams shot poorly, though — Indiana shot 41% and Atlanta shot 40%. Al Horford stayed hot and registered seven points on 3/5 shooting while Paul George was unable to find a rhythm and entered halftime with just three points on 1/8 shooting.
It got ugly for the Pacers after halftime. Still unable to buy a bucket, their defense appeared non-existent in the third, and they gave up 37 points to Atlanta on 68% shooting. Paul Millsap had 12 points on 5/6 shooting while George still struggled, hitting just two of his seven attempts and recording four points.
After the explosion by the Hawks, they led 89-56 going into the fourth. Once the last period started, nine of the ten starters for both teams were sat down — Myles Turner played roughly six-and-a-half minutes in the fourth. Indiana scored 19, and the Hawks scored 15 before the final buzzer.
Paul George struggled, to say the least. He shot just 3/15 for seven points in 25 minutes of action. For Atlanta, Millsap and Horford had 18 points apiece, and Millsap had nine boards, three steals, and three blocks to go along with it.
Indiana looks to get back on track at home against Boston on Tuesday while Atlanta travels to Detroit on Wednesday.
Around The League
The Cavaliers handed the Clippers their worst loss of the season, 114-90. LeBron James had 27 points, six rebounds, and five assists to lead the victory; Channing Frye had 15 points off the bench. J.J Redick led LA with 17 points, and Chris Paul dropped ten dimes.
Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded another triple-double in a win over the Nets, 109-100. With his fourth triple-double (28p/11r/14a), the Greek Freak became the first player in the Bucks’ history to record four triple-doubles in a season.
Derrick Favors and DeMarcus Cousins dueled in Sacramento as the Jazz won 108-99. Favors recorded 28p/14r/4a while Cousins had 31p/10r/5a. It was Cousins’ 24th game with 30 or more points, giving him a ten-game lead on second place Anthony Davis.
CLE 114 – LAC 90
IND 75 – ATL 104
UTAH 108 – SAC 99
MIL 109 – BKN 100
NYK 90 – LAL 87