Hawks strong at home on Game 4, Pacers still can’t win in Atlanta

The Atlanta Hawks put on a dramatic show for an electric home crowd as the Hawks tied up the NBA Playoffs series at two games apiece.

The Hawks defeated an all-around talented Indiana Pacers team for the second straight game by a score of 102-91. The Pacers have not won a game in Atlanta since December of 2006.

Drew said before the game that the team needed to defend at the same high level that the team was able to that Saturday night that led to a lopsided game 3 victory.

The Pacers came out strong in the first quarter leading as much as seven.

Kyle Korver went into the game with 5:25 to go in the first quarter, and things turned around promptly for the Hawks.

Josh Smith made two free throws to put the team down by one with 30 seconds to go in the the quarter. Devin Harris followed with a buzzer beater layup to put the Hawks up 22-21 at the end of the first and ignite an electrifying pulse through the crowd.

The energy carried over into the second quarter as forward Anthony Tolliver put up a quick three followed by back to back threes by Korver to put the Hawks up 30-22.

Korver went 3-4 on threes in the first half establishing a substantial cushion at the half.

Atlanta’s dynamic offensive performance continued as the Hawks scored 35 points in the second only allowed 19 points from the Pacers.

Smith and Petro had a combined eight defensive rebounds allowing the Hawks to stretch the lead to 57-40 at the half continuing the high quality of defense the team had played in game three.

“Defensively, we were there all night,” Devin Harris said after the game.

The Pacers went only 15-41 in the first half with Roy Hibbert making 5 out of 10 from the field for 10 points.

Josh Smith and Kyle Korver had a combined 27 points in the first half.

“I feel that when [Smith] plays with that level energy, we’re such a different team,” Al Horford said on Josh Smith’s performance. “When he’s that committed to doing the little things, it makes a big difference for us.”

An increase of physicality was apparent from both teams as the second half began, but with it came a lack of made shots as the Hawks only went 2-10 from the field in the opening five minutes of the game.

Everything went right for the Pacers as they shot 41 percent in the third while keeping the Hawks to only scoring 12 pointes in the third decimating the 18 point lead they held at the half.

As the fourth quarter began, it appeared that the Hawks woes would only continue.

Roy Hibbert sat to avoid to fouling out with 10:26 to go and would not return until 4:54 remaining. The Pacers offense slowed without his presence.

Paul George, who was 6-16 shooting on the night, went 6-8 at the line in the fourth continuing the Pacers offensive persistence.

It was Korver and Smith, however, who put the threes up and in through the final three minutes to secure the victory and even the series.

Josh Smith ended the game with 29 points, a playoff career high and 11 total rebounds.

Korver went 5-8 on three point attempts.

“I just knocked them down, I don’t think there’s anything to it,” Korver said on his offensive performance.

Atlanta will play game 5 of the series in Indiana Wednesday night. Atlanta dropped both away games earlier in the series, and will have to find a way to win on the road to get a chance to clinch the series in a home game six.

“Energy and effort” Smith said will be keys to a road victory. “It’s not always going to work defensively . . . but the way we scrambled out of double teams, the way we helped each other out. . . that’s what its going to take us to be able to compete.”


Coach Drew on Jason Collins’ announcement

Much of the news around the NBA and much of pro sports Monday had been on the announcement of free-agent Jason Collins announcing that he is gay. Collins is the first American active professional athlete to come out.

“When I got the news today, I was very proud,” Hawks head coach Larry Drew stated on Collins. “The first thing that went into my mind [was] that he had the courage to come out and express himself.”