cloudy
Tuesday May 26th, 2015 5:54AM

Hawks rout Pacers 107-88, boost playoff hopes

By The Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS -- Atlanta got Indiana at exactly the right time.

The Pacers couldn't shoot early, couldn't defend most of the night, couldn't protect their home court and kept All-Star center Roy Hibbert on the bench for the final 30 minutes - all against a team that still hasn't clinched a playoff spot.

Jeff Teague scored 25 points in his hometown, Pero Antic finished with 18 and the Hawks handed the NBA's best home team an embarrassing 107-88 loss Sunday that could have a major impact on playoff seeding in the East.

"I think as many games as we play, sometimes you just have a half like that," Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. "I think we participated in it some, but I think we just caught them on a rough night."

The truth is the Hawks (34-42) are back on track.

Since losing six straight and falling temporarily out of the top eight, Atlanta has won three of its last four to take firm control of the No. 8 slot. If it holds that slot, Atlanta would make the playoffs for an Eastern Conference-best seventh straight season and get a probable first-round matchup with either the two-time defending champion Heat or the suddenly reeling Pacers.

Sunday's win, coupled with New York's 102-91 loss at Miami on Sunday, gave Atlanta three fewer losses than the ninth-place Knicks, who have four games left, and a two-game lead overall.

Still, coaches and players in Atlanta insist they're not paying attention to the other scores.

"We're genuinely more focused on building our habits and improving," Budenholzer said. "If we do what we talk about each day, those things will take care of themselves."

Indiana (53-25), meanwhile, is trying to pull itself out of a complete collapse.

Since beating Miami on March 26 to take a three-game lead in the chase for the East's top seed, the Pacers have lost four of five to fall one game behind the Heat. They were even forced to cancel Saturday's practice because a wind gust sent a baggage cart crashing into the team plane after Friday night's loss at Toronto, Indiana's sixth straight on the road - a practice it certainly could have used.

The Pacers couldn't get closer than 13 after falling into a 14-point hole midway through the first quarter Sunday, and their 23 points were a franchise low for a first half. The previous low was 27 against the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 10, 2004.

How bad have things gotten?

Team president Larry Bird barely budged as he watched the league's No. 1 defense allowed Atlanta to shoot 56.2 percent from the field and make 12 of 27 3-pointers. Indiana followed a 7-for-35 shooting effort in the first half with a 15-for-43 showing in the second half.

Coach Frank Vogel was so upset by the sluggish start that he yanked all five starters midway through the first quarter and benched Hibbert because Vogel thought he needed some extra rest. Hibbert, who looked disengaged on the bench, did not speak to reporters afterward.

"He looks worn down," Vogel said. "He's a 7-foot-2 player who has played every game this year, which is very rare. He looks to me to be worn down. He's given good effort but he looks to me to be worn down. Combine that with the fact that they have a 3-point shooting 5-man most of the game. It's a difficult matchup."

But none of it made this blowout any easier to accept.

Indiana missed its first seven shots as the Hawks jumped to a 9-0 lead. Things only got bleaker as the game continued.

Atlanta scored the final five points of the first quarter to take a 33-11 lead. When Mike Scott and Shelvin Mack hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the second, the Hawks led 45-15. They were still up 55-23 at the half as Indiana's frustrated players shook their heads and frustrated fans serenaded the team with boos as they left the court.

"It was a must-win for us tonight," Teague said. "We came out hungry, we came out with energy and we came out with passion."

When Indiana finally showed some spark in the second half, it was too late.

The Pacers used an 11-0 spurt to get as close as 75-59 late in the third, but they couldn't get closer than 15 until 1:18 remained.

"I thought we were super locked in," Kyle Korver said. "We're fighting for a playoff spots and we came out like that."

Notes: Atlanta ended a three-game losing streak in Indy. ... The loss will prevent Indiana from matching the franchise best home mark of 36-5, set in 1999-2000. The Pacers are now 35-6 at home. ... Paul Millsap had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Hawks.Hawks rout Pacers 107-88, boost playoff hopes

By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Atlanta got Indiana at exactly the right time.

The Pacers couldn't shoot early, couldn't defend most of the night, couldn't protect their home court and kept All-Star center Roy Hibbert on the bench for the final 30 minutes - all against a team that still hasn't clinched a playoff spot.

Jeff Teague scored 25 points in his hometown, Pero Antic finished with 18 and the Hawks handed the NBA's best home team an embarrassing 107-88 loss Sunday that could have a major impact on playoff seeding in the East.

"I think as many games as we play, sometimes you just have a half like that," Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. "I think we participated in it some, but I think we just caught them on a rough night."

The truth is the Hawks (34-42) are back on track.

Since losing six straight and falling temporarily out of the top eight, Atlanta has won three of its last four to take firm control of the No. 8 slot. If it holds that slot, Atlanta would make the playoffs for an Eastern Conference-best seventh straight season and get a probable first-round matchup with either the two-time defending champion Heat or the suddenly reeling Pacers.

Sunday's win, coupled with New York's 102-91 loss at Miami on Sunday, gave Atlanta three fewer losses than the ninth-place Knicks, who have four games left, and a two-game lead overall.

Still, coaches and players in Atlanta insist they're not paying attention to the other scores.

"We're genuinely more focused on building our habits and improving," Budenholzer said. "If we do what we talk about each day, those things will take care of themselves."

Indiana (53-25), meanwhile, is trying to pull itself out of a complete collapse.

Since beating Miami on March 26 to take a three-game lead in the chase for the East's top seed, the Pacers have lost four of five to fall one game behind the Heat. They were even forced to cancel Saturday's practice because a wind gust sent a baggage cart crashing into the team plane after Friday night's loss at Toronto, Indiana's sixth straight on the road - a practice it certainly could have used.

The Pacers couldn't get closer than 13 after falling into a 14-point hole midway through the first quarter Sunday, and their 23 points were a franchise low for a first half. The previous low was 27 against the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 10, 2004.

How bad have things gotten?

Team president Larry Bird barely budged as he watched the league's No. 1 defense allowed Atlanta to shoot 56.2 percent from the field and make 12 of 27 3-pointers. Indiana followed a 7-for-35 shooting effort in the first half with a 15-for-43 showing in the second half.

Coach Frank Vogel was so upset by the sluggish start that he yanked all five starters midway through the first quarter and benched Hibbert because Vogel thought he needed some extra rest. Hibbert, who looked disengaged on the bench, did not speak to reporters afterward.

"He looks worn down," Vogel said. "He's a 7-foot-2 player who has played every game this year, which is very rare. He looks to me to be worn down. He's given good effort but he looks to me to be worn down. Combine that with the fact that they have a 3-point shooting 5-man most of the game. It's a difficult matchup."

But none of it made this blowout any easier to accept.

Indiana missed its first seven shots as the Hawks jumped to a 9-0 lead. Things only got bleaker as the game continued.

Atlanta scored the final five points of the first quarter to take a 33-11 lead. When Mike Scott and Shelvin Mack hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the second, the Hawks led 45-15. They were still up 55-23 at the half as Indiana's frustrated players shook their heads and frustrated fans serenaded the team with boos as they left the court.

"It was a must-win for us tonight," Teague said. "We came out hungry, we came out with energy and we came out with passion."

When Indiana finally showed some spark in the second half, it was too late.

The Pacers used an 11-0 spurt to get as close as 75-59 late in the third, but they couldn't get closer than 15 until 1:18 remained.

"I thought we were super locked in," Kyle Korver said. "We're fighting for a playoff spots and we came out like that."

Notes: Atlanta ended a three-game losing streak in Indy. ... The loss will prevent Indiana from matching the franchise best home mark of 36-5, set in 1999-2000. The Pacers are now 35-6 at home. ... Paul Millsap had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Hawks.
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
2014 Top 10: Looking back at the top sports stories of the year
It was another year for the record books in 2014, mostly for the right reasons -- state championships, new challenges and new stars taking their turn to shine. But there were also plenty of big stories that reminded us that sports -- like life -- isn
11:55PM ( 4 months ago )
NASCAR K&N Pro Series schedules set for 2015
DAYTONA BEACH, FL - NASCAR announced recently the 2015 schedules for its top developmental regional touring series, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
2:00PM ( 4 months ago )
Lanierland boys final: Johnson makes history with win over Red Elephants <b> (VIDEO) </b>
Ever the aggressor on the court, Johnson
8:55AM ( 4 months ago )
Sports
Pits will be tight as Chili Bowl entry count hits 316
TULSA, OK - The 29th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals presented by General Tire is on track to be a record smashing event, with the entry count climbing over the 300 mark for the first time to 316 entries confirming 303 drivers for the indoor spectacular happening Tuesday, January 13 through Saturday, January 17 at the Tulsa Expo Center in Tulsa, OK.
9:59AM ( 4 months ago )
Falcons fire Mike Smith after 2nd straight losing season
Mike Smith's status as the winningest coach in Falcons history wasn't enough to save his job. Owner Arthur Blank said he fired Smith on Monday because in his "heart of hearts" he didn't believe Smith could take the Falcons to the Super Bowl.
7:58PM ( 4 months ago )
New promoters in place for 2015 at Senoia Raceway
SENOIA, GA - Lease papers have been signed and a team of new promoters is in place for the upcoming stock car racing season at Senoia Raceway in Senoia, GA.
6:00AM ( 4 months ago )
Professional Sports
Baseball: GHS, Greenbrier set for one-game showdown for AAAAA yitle
Few expected a sweep. And as if on cue, Gainesville and Greenbrier split the first two games of their best-of-three Class AAAAA state championship series Monday at Greenbrier.
12:00PM ( 6 hours from now )
University of North Georgia softball team wins national championship
Junior pitcher Courtney Poole struck out four while giving up just two hits to lead the University of North Georgia softball team to a 5-0 win against Dixie State and the program's first national title.
By UNG Athletic Communications
2:51AM ( 3 hours ago )
LeBron, Cavaliers limping their way toward NBA Finals
One win from taking the Cavaliers back to the NBA Finals, and one step closer to a title he covets more than any other, James leaned against a padded wall on Monday and hardly resembled basketball's most undeniable force.
12:48AM ( 5 hours ago )
Homer happy: Dodgers hit 3 in 8th to beat Braves 6-3
Andre Ethier, Alex Guerrero and Jimmy Rollins each homered in the eighth inning, rallying the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 6-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Monday night.
11:36PM ( 6 hours ago )
Big Red championship vets hope Gainesville can get back to promised land this week
Wayne Vickery coached his way to five state championships with Gainesville baseball -- and the outgoing Gainesville High athletic director sees similarities between one of those title winners and the 2015 squad.
3:00PM ( 14 hours ago )