In loss to Pacers, Hawks again collapse in fourth quarter

Indiana Pacers forward Doug McDermott (20) lays up a shot as Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins (20) and guard Cam Reddish (22) defend during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Indiana Pacers forward Doug McDermott (20) lays up a shot as Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins (20) and guard Cam Reddish (22) defend during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Credit: Butch Dill

Credit: Butch Dill

The Hawks blew another lead in the fourth quarter in their 125-113 loss to the Pacers Saturday at State Farm Arena, falling to a season-worst four games below .500 (11-15).

Next up, the Hawks will have the day off Sunday before beginning a three-game road trip Monday in New York.

Below are some takeaways from the loss:

1. The fourth quarter continues to haunt the Hawks, who have just a 9-7 record when leading after the third quarter. The Hawks trailed by as much as 10 points in the first half but took a three-point lead into the fourth quarter after outsourcing the Pacers 29-22 and putting together a strong third. Then, everything went haywire. Aaron Holiday got hot with 13 points and the Pacers (14-13) went 12-for-17 from the floor (70.6%), 4-for-6 from 3-point range and 13-for-16 from the line, pouring on 41 points as the Hawks couldn’t get stops and missed open shots. “I thought our defensive effort was better; I thought they felt us for three quarters,” Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. “It’s just the inability to score and the flattening of our guys, just from an energy standpoint, late in that fourth quarter, middle of that fourth quarter, was the separation. It was a big separation for us.”

2. For the second consecutive season, the Hawks are struggling mightily on the second night of back-to-backs, with this loss dropping their record in that scenario to 0-5 (last season, they were 2-10). On the second half of back-to-backs, the Hawks previously had lost to Cleveland Jan. 2, to Portland Jan. 16, to Brooklyn Jan. 27 and to Utah Feb. 4.

3. Pierce said the energy dropped in the fourth quarter, but he also said he didn’t think it was because of fatigue. Still, though, just as this team was starting to get healthy, injuries are catching up to the Hawks again, with De’Andre Hunter (right knee surgery), Tony Snell (right Achilles soreness), Rajon Rondo (low back pain), Bogdan Bogdanovic (avulsion fracture, right knee) and Kris Dunn (right ankle surgery) out. That left the Hawks without their backup point guard and down a significant amount of shooting on the wing. Trae Young said the Hawks need to find a way to finish games better, even if they’re mixing players in and out of the lineup right now: “We’ve just got to continue to learn on the fly. We’re getting guys in and out, mixing guys in. Today we kind of just went out there and tried to play with effort and do that, so we’ve just got to figure out how to close better and kind of learn on the fly, really.”

4. One thing the Hawks did well was move the ball, as they tallied a season-high 35 assists (on 43 field goals) in the loss. They had 21 assists in the first half alone, which is a season-high for any half. Young led with 14 assists (to go with 15 points, though oddly he never attempted a 3-pointer in the game). Kevin Huerter had a double-double of 10 points and 10 assists and Brandon Goodwin had four assists. Every Hawks starter had at least one, with John Collins adding 18 points and two assists, Cam Reddish adding 18 points and one assist and Clint Capela chalking up 24 points and one assist.

5. Cam Reddish hasn’t found any consistency on offense this season, entering Saturday shooting 25% from 3-point range and 35.8% from the floor. But he looked confident and in control, going 6-for-10 from the floor, 3-for-7 from 3 and 3-for-4 from the line. “Just trying to forget about bad shooting,” Reddish said of what helped him get going. “I’m not trying to put too much emphasis on it. I know what I can do, just been struggling to make shots. And that happens. So just sticking with it and continuing to trust the work I put in.”

Stat of the game

70.6% (or 12-for-17, what the Pacers shot from the floor in the fourth quarter)

Star of the game

Doug McDermott (led the Pacers in scoring with 26 and was a plus-16)

Quotable

“We didn’t make any shots down the stretch, and they made every shot down the stretch. I thought we had great looks. ... We didn’t capitalize on some open looks in the fourth.” (Pierce on the fourth quarter)

In Other News