INDIANAPOLIS – After an ugly start to the road trip, the Pacers (14-13) are returning home with a winning record.
It didn’t look like that would be the case when Saturday’s fourth quarter started in Atlanta, but Indiana came back with a three-guard approach.
Riding the unusual group of Aaron Holiday, T.J. McConnell, Malcolm Brogdon, Doug McDermott and Myles Turner down the stretch, the Pacers outscored the Hawks by 15 in the final quarter, winning 125-113 on Saturday.
McDermott was outstanding, leading all scorers with 26 points. The younger Holiday had 18 points off the bench, with McConnell handing out 12 assists. Turner had 19 points and 10 rebounds.
While Saturday’s game was one of the better offensive performances of the season (34 assists on 50.6 percent shooting) for the Pacers, the defense against Tare Young deserves some mention.
The Pacers held Young without a single three-point attempt and to just 3-of-9 shooting overall. It was Justin Holiday and McConnell spearheading that defensive effort.
Atlanta actually led by 9 points early in the 4th quarter before the Pacers made their comeback.
The Hawks (11-15) have now lost 6 of their last 7 games.The Pacers will now return home for a game on Monday, following a 2-1 road trip last week.
Three Things Learned
1. Riding The Hot Lineup: We will talk about another Nate Bjorkgren influence below that comes on the defensive end, but there’s a clear trend in how he handles his in-game lineups. There is no set rotation from Bjorkgren. More often than not, Bjorkgren rides the hot hand and he did that on Saturday. It was an interesting group of Aaron Holiday, T.J. McConnell, Malcolm Brogdon, Doug McDermott and Myles Turner that got it done in the final quarter. That’s not a combination we’ve seen used often this season, but it worked on Saturday. Again, credit to Bjorkgren for being open-minded. This approach should build confidence and be helpful come playoff time.
2. Didn’t Let Trae Get Hot: A staple under Nate Bjorkgren has been the Pacers committing tons and tons of resources to make teams beat them left-handed. Bjorkgren enters games with the philosophy that the opponent’s best player(s) is not going to go off. It’s a challenge, but the Pacers have pulled it off a lot this season. On Saturday night, it was not allowing the explosive Trae Young to attempt a three-pointer. That’s an incredible execution against one of the league’s best scorers. Justin Holiday started out on Young and T.J McConnell also got a crack at him, but this defensive performance was a team effort in making other Hawks try and beat them late.
3. Winning Road Trip: Especially when you consider how this road trip started in Brooklyn, going 2-1 is a definite success. Things looked pretty bleak for the Pacers late on Wednesday night, with the Nets blowing their doors off and a back-to-back then waiting the next night. But the Pacers took care of business in Detroit and Atlanta to climb back above .500 and sit 4th in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers have 10 games remaining in the first half of the season, with some big road games in Boston and Philadelphia left.
Pacers Upcoming Schedule
-Bulls (Monday, 2-15, at 7:00 PM)
-@Timberwolves (Wednesday, 2-17, at 8:00 PM)
-@Rockets (Saturday, 2-20, at 8:00 PM)
-Spurs (Monday, 2-22, at 7:00 PM)
-Warriors (Wednesday, 2-24, at 7:30 PM)