INDIANAPOLIS -- The Hawks had a chance to create a little bit of a gap between themselves and the Pacers. But they struggled to establish their tempo and fell to the Pacers 129-114 on Tuesday night.
Here are five observations:
1. The Hawks did not have two injured starters, Clint Capela and De’Andre Hunter, and it hurt them. Though the Hawks were able to nurse a small lead early in the game, they could not maintain it.
The Pacers got wherever they wanted and were particularly lethal inside the paint in the absence of Capela. The Hawks allowed the Pacers to go 30-of-47 (63.8%) in the paint, with many of those shots coming at point-blank range.
Coming into the night, the Hawks had the goal of keeping their man in front of them, but Pacers proved too fast.
“They established their pace from the start of the game, we didn’t win a quarter,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “Tonight, they was averaging 30-plus each quarter. They got to their tempo. They played their game tonight, and we just didn’t keep them out of the paint.”
2. In addition, the Hawks allowed Indiana to knock down 13 shots from 3. Usually the Hawks would have the strong efforts of Hunter to help slow guys down around the perimeter.
Coming into the night, the Pacers ranked fourth in the NBA in 3-pointers made and 3-point attempts per game. Three of their starters rank among the top 40 shooters in the NBA and they made the Hawks pay for leaving them open.
Buddy Hield knocked down six of his seven attempts from deep, with his fourth make of the night temporarily putting some distance between the two teams.
But it was Tyrese Haliburton who sealed the game for the Pacers after the Hawks managed to pull within six with 8:51 remaining.
Out of a timeout, the 22-year-old sliced into the paint for a layup then made a pair of 3-pointers within 54 seconds. Haliburton’s triples, among other things, sucked the air out of the Hawks’ push.
“That’s just the way they play.” Hawks guard Trae Young said. “They just push the ball. Tyrese and those guards, they get out, and Buddy, and they get out and run and they search for threes and try to get quick points. And they did a good job of doing that tonight.”
3. While the Pacers pushed the pace and got points on the board, the Hawks just did not have enough scoring from the bench to sustain things. The Hawks had double-figure scoring from four of the five starters but just 28 points from the bench.
The Hawks trailed by just three coming out of the first period but the Pacers outscored them 27-19 through the first 10 minutes of the second quarter to take a 64-54 lead into halftime.
By the end of the night, the Pacers’ bench outscored the Hawks’ second unit 52-28.
The second unit has not lived up to the expectations the team had coming into the season. With the Hawks consistently nursing injuries, they have not been able to benefit from the depth they anticipated they would have.
“We had a few different combinations play,” McMillan said. “And they couldn’t make shots. I thought we had some good looks in that first half and we didn’t knock down those shots.”
In the second half, the Hawks did see a little more life from their bench, which brought the game within six. But they missed that offensive rhythm early in the matchup.
4. With the Hawks trying to find an offensive spark from somewhere in the rotation, Young and John Collins delivered. The two combined for 48 of the team’s 114 points with Young scoring 22 points and doling out 10 assists, while Collins led the way with 26 points and 10 rebounds.
Collins has had trouble finding the right flow to the game, averaging 11.8 points heading into the night and was shooting a career-low 21.1% from long distance.
But the 26-year-old confidently knocked shots down against the Pacers, going 3-of-6 from 3 after going 2-of-9 over his last five games.
“It’s tough, obviously having it in a loss but it feels great, just to see the ball go in,” Collins said. “I can’t really describe it during the game because I was just trying to stay focused, but it’s refreshing, relieving to see the ball go in. I work hard. I work hard on my game. So just refreshing to see the ball going in.”
5. With injuries already piling up, the Hawks added another to the list when Young exited the action with 4:15 left to play. He drove into the paint for a floater but continued out of bounds as the shot fell short.
Following the game, Young said that he was kneed in the calf but that he hoped to play in Wednesday’s game against the Nets.
Stat to know
800 -- With his second 3-pointer of the game, Trae Young has 800 in his career. Young, at 24 years and 99 days, becomes the third-youngest player in NBA history to knock down 800.
“You’re going from zero to 60. We try to get in a scrimmage, and just to get some live play and try to get the timing but you can’t simulate a game. And, they look the same way we did last night in New Orleans. And we’ve just got to continue to work, continue to work. We didn’t have our legs tonight. Hopefully we’ll have them tomorrow night.” -- Nate McMillan on how the recent three days of rest affected the team.
The Hawks host the Nets Wednesday.