The Hawks’ inability to close out games continued to haunt them Friday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in their ninth straight loss, this one a crushing 105-104 overtime setback to the Indiana Pacers.
Hawks point guard Trae Young was once again brilliant, matching his career high with 49 points. Young’s final bucket in regulation, with 11.5 seconds left, tied the game to force OT. The second-year star poured in 29 points over the fourth and overtime periods on 10 for 14 shooting, including 5-for-8 from 3-point range.
“If we don’t win, none of that matters,” Young said. “I didn’t do enough. That’s the way I look at it.”
The Hawks (4-15) led by as many as 18 points in the first half, continuing a trend of strong starts during the losing streak.
“You feel for them right now, just how hard they’re competing and the effort they put out to come into this building and really have great command over the game for the majority of it,” said Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce. “They competed for 53 minutes. It’s tough to come out on the other end.”
The Pacers (12-6) opened overtime with a 5-0 run off a jumper by Jeremy Lamb and a 3 by Myles Turner. Young buried a 3 to make it 99-97, but T.J. Warren hit a backbreaking corner 3 to give the Pacers breathing room. Turner effectively sealed the win, rebounding a DeAndre' Bembry miss.
“We had to make plays down the stretch, and we did, we just came up one point short,” Young said.
Young opened the game with a 3 just 11 seconds in, setting the stage for what would be a big night. He started finding his rhythm in the second half, inflicting damage on the Pacers in a variety of ways. Young started the quarter by driving for a scooping layup, followed by back-to-back plays where he drew shooting fouls to account for five made free throws and a 38-29 Atlanta lead. Young found De’Andre Hunter for a 3 for the Hawks’ next basket and followed with an alley-oop to Damien Jones that produced a 43-30 Hawks lead and a timeout by Pacers coach Nate McMillan.
A Young step-back 3 with 4:10 left in the half made it 50-32, and the Hawks were rolling with their biggest lead of the night, having outscored the Pacers 31-10 over a 10-minute period.
But the Pacers closed the half with a 5-0 run and opened the third quarter with a pair of quick buckets, cutting the Hawks’ lead to seven and leading Pierce to call a timeout. The Hawks, though, couldn’t slow the bleeding. Indiana outscored them 29-11 in the third.
Lamb started out hot, scoring eight straight early in the quarter. Indiana broke it open over the final two minutes. A Myles Turner offensive rebound put-back tied it at 63. Justin Holiday kept an offensive rebound alive after a steal off Evan Turner, tapping it out to Warren for a jumper and a 67-65 Pacers lead that brought the Indianapolis crowd alive. Myles Turner found Warren for a back-door layup on the Pacers’ next trip down, and buried a 3-pointer for a 72-65 lead to end the third.
“We weren’t getting stops and getting the ability to run,” Pierce said. “They only had two offensive rebounds in the first half. That gave us opportunities to get out and run because we limited them to one shot. They got out and got some easy ones and we weren’t getting the stops we got in the first half.”
Alex Len and Bembry both scored 15 for the Hawks, with Bembry adding 12 rebounds in 40 minutes of work. No one else scored more than seven. Lamb led five Pacers in double figures with 20 points. Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner both added 17.
By the numbers
6 – Straight wins over the Hawks by the Pacers. Indiana swept the four-game season series last year. Atlanta last beat the Pacers in February 2018.
“Obviously, he was great. We needed every bit of it. However, we’ve got to balance that. We’re playing him heavy minutes. He had a great night scoring the basketball and competing, but we’ve got to find ways to balance and get other guys going to alleviate some of that pressure. It’s tough for us to ask him to do that on a nightly basis.” (Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce on Trae Young’s career-high-tying 49 points.)
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