The Indiana Pacers jumped in the wayback machine Tuesday night. They returned to a team from November, one that was unstoppable in the second half and set records in defensive efficiency.
The Pacers rode a dominant third quarter to a 101-85 blowout of the Atlanta Hawks. The Pacers outscored the Hawks 53-33 in the second half.
The Pacers didn’t play particularly well in the first half and had to overcome a four point deficit at halftime. The defense wasn’t there as the Hawks were able to shoot 50-percent from the field and an even more impressive 50-percent from the three-point line.
That changed awfully fast out of the break. Paul George ramped up the defensive intensity to shut down Atlanta’s prolific scoring and will the Pacers to the win. By the end of the game, Atlanta was shooting 39-percent from the field and 34-percent from the arc.
The Hawks didn’t go cold in the second half, the Pacers shut them down. They looked like a completely different team, using defense to fuel their offense.
George dominated the court Tuesday night. He led all scorers with 27 points off 9-of-16 shooting, including five three pointers. He hauled in 10 rebounds while dishing out six assists. Defensively, George had four steals and a block.
Coach Frank Vogel made a crucial move to try and slow down Jeff Teague by putting George on him for most of the night. It wasn’t particularly effective in the first half, but Teague was noticeably slower in the second half with the bigger, more physical George draped over him.
Luis Scola provided a big boost off the bench. The Argentinian scored 20 points off 64-percent shooting. He also snagged seven rebounds.
George Hill finally returned to attack mode Tuesday night. He scored an efficient 15 points and was able to get to the free throw line regularly.
West ended up playing just 24 minutes due to foul trouble and the blowout. Hibbert and Stephenson played limited minutes as well as Vogel shifted the lineup to matchup better with the Hawks.
Vogel ran Hill and C.J. Watson out on the court at the same time to counter the two point guard look Atlanta played with. The lineup of George, Scola, Watson, Hill, and Ian Mahinmi played half of the third quarter and continued to dump points atop the Hawks.
The Pacers still have a number of concerns heading into Game Three at Atlanta, but if this is a sign of things to come, the Pacers might make some noise in the playoffs after all.
The Pacers and Hawks will face each other on Thursday at 7PM. The broadcast is on NBATV or Fox Sports Midwest.