Indiana Pacers bench propels Blue & Gold to win over Atlanta


Last night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Indiana Pacers used a push from their bench and a second quarter thrashing to beat the Atlanta Hawks, 93-87.

Paul George is struggling to hit, but his teammates are not. That was the story again last night after the Cali native failed to hit double digits in scoring on 3/14 shooting. But where George failed, his teammates, both in the starting five and on the bench, were able to help.

Last night, the bench outscored the Hawks bench 35-25 and proved crucial in the fourth quarter, as again Jordan Hill stood out among the rest.

The Good
Despite facing one of the better shooting teams in the league, the Indiana Pacers were able to hold Atlanta to just under 42% from the field and 24% from downtown. In addition, despite only outscoring the Hawks 14-10, the Pacers recorded a season-high 16 steals on the night and again showed why they are one of the better teams in the league in that category.

Offensively, Monta Ellis deserves a lot of credit for keeping things going without C.J. Miles available and without Paul George able to contribute his usual count. Ellis had 26 points on 10/20 shooting, including 4/9 from long range. The only other Pacers starter to reach double figures was Ian Mahinmi, who chipped on 13 points and 9 boards on 5/8 shooting.

On the bench, Chase Budinger was an incredibly efficient boost, scoring 10 points on 5/6 shooting, while the two Hills in the second unit (Jordan and Solomon) combined for 19 points on 9/17 from the field. Though Solomon Hill is certainly not head coach Frank Vogel’s first option when looking for minutes to distribute, he was a much-needed spark on both ends.

The Bad
Other than missing PG again, George Hill and Lavoy Allen were both underwhelming, as was Rodney Stuckey, who had just six points in 25 minutes of play.

Indiana struggled to limit the Hawks’ leading scorers Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap but were still able to keep them relatively quiet especially in crunch time.

The only category where the Pacers will look to continually improve on is free-throw shooting. Last night, despite the six-point win, the Blue & Gold were only 10/18 from the line and will need to improve their consistency at the charity strike.

It’s somewhat of a quick turnaround as the Pacers move on to Chicago tomorrow night in the first evening of a back-to-back, but the win last night was important in moving forward through a difficult week.

The Pacers face the Chicago Bulls tomorrow night at the United Center, tipoff set for 8 pm ET.