The Indiana Pacers failed to match the Atlanta Hawks intensity in the second half. The Pacers struggled at both ends of the court as the Hawks started to hit wide open jumpers, leading to the 98-85 loss for Indiana. This gives the Hawks a 2-1 lead in the series.
The Pacers trailed by just one after the first half. Atlanta couldn’t hit a three pointer to save their lives, and Paul George didn’t score a single point.
David West had 16 points for the Pacers. West also had 7 rebounds and 5 assists. West tried to get his teammates dialed in and lead by example, but his pleas appeared to fall on deaf ears.
George finished with a double-double, but his offense left a lot to be desired. He shot just 3-for-11 from the field for 12 points. George also had 14 rebounds.
Lance Stephenson led the Pacers with 21 points off 50-percent shooting. He also have a double-double with 13 rebounds.
The Pacers struggled with fouls as well. Atlanta had 37 (!) attempts from the free throw line, compared to the Pacers 21. Every foul the Hawks drew was somehow a shooting foul. Atlanta entered the bonus with six minutes to play, and were able to maintain their lead with help from the charity stripe.
Poor execution by the offense in the final five minutes of play prevented anything resembling a comeback. George Hill continually mishandled simple passes and coupled with poor shooting, had no business on the court. Hill connected on just 1-of-10 jumpers.
Hill wasn’t the only bad shooter out there, however, as the Pacers shot just 37-percent from the field. The Pacers did hold a large rebounding advantage, but in the end it didn’t matter.
Luis Scola was solid off the bench for Indiana once again. Scola had 17 points off 63-percent shooting.
Its time to start putting some blame on coach Frank Vogel. His rotations are becoming baffling and continuing to play Roy Hibbert for extended minutes is killing this teams productivity all over the floor.
Hibbert is just 7-for-25 in this series. He also can’t guard the smaller Atlanta frontcourt players.
Vogel needs to fight fire with a little fire. Chris Copeland has barely seen the floor, don’t you think the second unit could use a floor spacer? Evan Turner hasn’t been all that effective and is a liability on the court, yet still comes in over Copeland.
Vogel didn’t opt for a smaller lineup until there were nine minutes left in the game. It was a lineup we hadn’t seen at all in this series, and it was far past due. The Pacers won’t win this series by being bigger than the Hawks, as we’ve seen from two of the past three games.
We have heard that Vogel’s job is safe, but his inflexibility is going to cost him at some point. If he has to bench Hibbert and play small for the rest of the series, then so be it. But he needs to make some drastic moves to get the Pacers out of the first round.
The Pacers stay in Atlanta for game four on Saturday at 2PM on TNT. This is a must win for the Pacers who desperately need to regain home court advantage.