Hawks pound Pacers in Game 3
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Atlanta wanted to get tougher defensively after getting blown out over their first two games in Indiana.
After a few lineup changes, that's exactly what the Hawks did.
Al Horford tallied a playoff career-high 26 points and 16 rebounds in the Hawks' 90-69 rout of the Pacers in Game 3 of this Eastern Conference first- round series.
Josh Smith added 14 points, six rebounds and six assists for Atlanta, which will host Game 4 on Monday.
Indiana still leads the best-of-seven set 2-1.
The Pacers, who led the NBA in rebounding, held a 95-73 edge on the boards through the first two games and outscored the Hawks by an average margin of 16 points.
Paul George tallied a triple-double in Game 1 and responded with 27 more points in Game 2. The Hawks, though, countered and took Kyle Korver out of the starting lineup and replaced him by moving Smith from power forward to small forward. Johan Petro started at center and Horford played power forward. After seeing less than six minutes of floor time over the first two tilts, the 6- foot-8 power forward Anthony Tolliver got 8:18 of playing time in the first half alone.
Petro played in just 31 games this season, but Atlanta didn't have many options inside after rugged center Zaza Pachulia was lost for the year late in the regular season after suffering an Achilles injury.
The changes panned out.
Especially in the first half.
The Hawks led by 24 at the break. They registered a 27-22 advantage on the boards, had a 30-12 points in the paint edge, recorded 15 points off 12 Pacer turnovers and held Indiana to just 23.8 percent (10-of-42) from the floor.
"This team has done something they've done all year long and that's respond," Hawks head coach Larry Drew said. "After two losses in Indiana and coming home, which I really felt this group would respond, we came out early and the energy was there."
George finished with 16 points and nine boards for the Pacers, who had as many turnovers (22) as made field goals.
Indiana has dropped 12 straight at Philips Arena.
The Pacers raced out to an 8-1 start, but an elongated 32-6 run that bled into the second put the Hawks firmly in control.
Tolliver nailed a triple with two seconds left in the opening frame to give Atlanta a 27-14 edge after one and Smith, who netted eight points during the surge, capped it with a pair of free throws and a jumper on back-to-back possessions to propel the Hawks to a 33-14 margin.
"Obviously didn't close that first quarter as strong as we should have," Pacers forward David West said. "We were never really able to cut back in."
Devin Harris' behind-the-back pass to a trailing Smith on a fastbreak later in the stanza led to him throwing down a thunderous left-handed slam to increase the lead to 49-23, Atlanta's largest of the opening 24 minutes.
The Hawks headed into the locker room with a 54-30 cushion.
The margin reached its peak at 28 in the third before Atlanta took a 75-49 advantage in the fourth, where Indiana never cut the deficit below 18.
Hawks point guard Jeff Teague left the contest late in the first half with a right elbow injury. He was writhing in pain underneath the Hawks basket after taking a hard spill to the floor following a drive to the bucket. He returned for the start of the second half ... Indiana shot 27.2 percent (22-of-81) from the field and 16 percent (4-of-25) from beyond the arc ... Tolliver played 14:53 total.
04/28 00:08:19 ET