Full Strength Pacers Dominate Hawks
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INDIANAPOLIS – Full strength for the first time this season, the Indiana Pacers looked like it on Friday night.
While the struggling Atlanta Hawks didn’t offer much resistance, the Pacers jumped out early and cruised to a 112-85 victory.
Friday night saw an unusual first-half effort on the offensive end for Indiana.
The Pacers scored 53 points in the first half, even though leading scorer Victor Oladipo took just 2 shots in 16 minutes.
Oladipo, the distributor, had 4 assists in the first half, with Indiana showing that they could keep the scoring pace going even when their All-Star wasn’t involved in the scoring department. Oladipo’s scoring punch eventually came in the third quarter, when he poured in 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting.
Center Myles Turner continued his better play in recent weeks with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Darren Collison returned to the floor on Friday for his first game action in more than a month. Despite missing 11 games, Collison came off the bench and hardly showed any rust. Collison made his first 4 shots including a buzzer beating 3-pointer to end the first quarter.
It was an efficient night for the Indiana point guards.
Cory Joseph, who will eventually slide back into his backup PG role once Collison has no minutes’ restriction, was 7-of-13 for 18 points.
A win over the lowly Hawks was vital for the Pacers as they embark on the most critical week of the season.
Indiana will take on Boston and Toronto---the two top teams in the East. But the two bigger games this week will come with trips to Philadelphia and Washington. The 76ers (35-29) and Wizards (37-28) are bunched together with the Pacers (38-28) in the standings, and head-to-head tiebreakers will be decided in those games.
What’s Next: The Pacers (38-28) will enter their toughest week of the season with 4 games against: @Boston (Sunday), @Philadelphia (Tuesday), Toronto (Thursday) and @Washington (Saturday).