Pacers Use Dominant Fourth Quarter Against Hawks, Win 125-113

Grant Afseth

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- After recently experiencing a four-game losing streak, the Indiana Pacers are in a position getting wins is vital to avoid sliding down the Eastern Conference standings. They managed to do precisely this during the NBA's Saturday slate in their 125-113 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

It was a bit of a sluggish start to the game for both the Hawks and Pacers in this matchup. During the first quarter, neither team managed to lead by more than four points and both teams shot a combined 3-of-15 (20.0%) from beyond the arc. Indiana led 27-26 entering the second period. 

There was a clear emphasis from the Pacers to neutralize Trae Young early on by using various schemes to do it. He made an impact with his passing ability but the Hawks simply lack other perimeter threats that can get downhill and consistently succeed. 

The Pacers managed to build momentum to start the second quarter and even achieved a 10-point lead at the 6:35 mark. Atlanta rallied back with a 14-5 run to cut Indiana's lead down to just one-point and prompting a timeout. Both teams traded blows for the remainder of the half and the Pacers held a 62-58 lead at halftime. 

“I think the best thing that I liked with that group was just the intensity at which they were playing,” Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren said. “I thought the guards were in very serious attack mode on the offensive end.”

There was struggling offensive execution from the Pacers during the third quarter. Indiana scored only 22 points and went 7-of-19 (36.8%) from the field with five turnovers. The Hawks were up 87-84 at the end of the frame.

Atlanta managed to extend their lead to seven points early in the fourth quarter but the Pacers quickly answered back. Indiana decided to change things up and went with a three-guard lineup to maximize their playmaking. They also made the bold choice of closing the game without Domantas Sabonis on the floor. 

Indiana went on to score a staggering 41 points in the fourth quarter, a mark they hadn't reached in any of their quarters this season. The Pacers capitalized on the Hawks' defense routinely giving up space to shooters and their inability to contain dribble penetration. 

"I think three of the plays Aaron Holiday made were containment plays," Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. "Three of the 3s that were given up were tough shots. How do you take away Aaron Holiday's 3-point shot over Cam? How do you get to Myles Turner a little bit quicker on his catch and shoot? How do you get to his body earlier so he doesn't have that look? Obviously they all went in, so it looks and feels a lot worse."

There were a variety of key standout performances for the Pacers in the final period of this game. Aaron Holiday scored an impressive 13 points and led all scorers. Doug McDermott (9), Malcolm Brogdon (7), and Myles Turner (7) each combined for 23 points in addition. 

With the Pacers continuing to focus on neutralizing Young, the Hawks' offense struggled to close out this game. He was held to just one point in this frame. TJ McConnell's ball pressure posed problems along with Indiana's schematic creativity. 

There was an apparent spark the Pacers receive from TJ McConnell when inserting him into the lineup. He provided a staggering 12 assists, four steals, and two blocks. Perhaps most impressive of all, Indiana outscored the Hawks by 32 points when he was on the floor.

Just about all of the Pacers' starters were in a rhythm offensively to a degree. Doug McDermott scored a game-high 26 points and was followed by Myles Turner (19), Malcolm Brogdon (18), Justin Holiday (15), and Domantas Sabonis (14). Meanwhile, Aaron Holiday chipped in 18 points off the bench. 

The Pacers will return to action on Monday when they take on the Chicago Bulls.