Pacers hope big fourth quarter vs. Wolves carries into Hawks game

Paul George heated up late against Minnesota, scoring eight of his 18 points in the fourth quarter.

Jesse Johnson/Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks lead the Eastern Conference with 20 victories following a six-game winning streak keyed mostly by their offense.

Their defense helped them overcome a big deficit last time out.

The Hawks open a three-game road trip looking to match their season-best win streak and earn a fifth consecutive regular-season victory over the Indiana Pacers on Monday night.

Atlanta (20-12) has averaged 111.5 points and shot 51.2 percent while winning its last six games after scoring 86.7 points and shooting 40.5 percent during a three-game skid.

The Hawks trailed New York by 15 points just seven minutes into Saturday’s game and were down 14 late in the second quarter before rallying for a 117-98 win. The Southeast Division leaders surrendered more than 30 points in both the first and second quarters but allowed a combined 35 over the final two.

"I think the second half, our defense and our activity put us in a good place," coach Mike Budenholzer said. "… We’ve got to figure a way to do that from the beginning of the game to the end of the game, but credit to our guys for turning it."

Atlanta, which didn’t take its first lead until 4:04 into the third quarter, built a 20-point advantage just over four minutes into the fourth. The Knicks shot 30.0 percent from the floor in the second half after hitting 65.9 percent in the first.

"We made sure they had to earn everything they got," said center Al Horford, who had 19 points. "Our team defense was good."

Paul Millsap led Atlanta with 22 points, Mike Scott scored a season-high 18 off the bench and Jeff Teague added 17. Six Hawks scored in double figures for the fourth time in five games.

Backup point guard Dennis Schroder has also keyed the win streak, averaging 14.0 points on 50.8 percent shooting in 21.8 minutes per game. He averaged 7.3 points and shot 33.7 percent in his previous 12 games.

"They’re playing at a great level right now, they’ve won six straight and starting to resemble the team that earned the No. 1 seed last year," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "… They still got Horford, Millsap, Teague and (Kyle) Korver, Mike Scott coming off the bench lighting everyone up and Schroeder is playing terrific basketball for them."

Vogel hopes his biggest offensive weapon and his team are back on track after a big fourth quarter.

Paul George is scoring 24.8 points per game but has averaged 12.3 in the last three, shooting 26.5 percent. However, he was 3 of 3 from the field in the final period Saturday after going 4 for 13 in the first three, and the Pacers (17-12) snapped a three-game losing streak with a 102-88 win in Minnesota.

George scored eight of his 18 in the fourth, Monta Ellis had seven of his 22 in the same quarter and Indiana overcame a seven-point deficit late in the third.

"This one was very important," George said.

The Pacers were 6 for 9 on 3-pointers in the fourth quarter after going 3 of 17 over the first three. They’re fourth in the NBA in 3-point shooting at 37.2 percent.

"We’re a good 3-point shooting team," Vogel said. "We haven’t shot the ball well of late, but we feel like that’s going to come around as long as we’re moving the basketball. We got 25 assists, so we are trying to move it. We feel like the shots are going to go."

Indiana had 23 turnovers Saturday — its most in a win since Feb. 1, 2014 — and now faces an Atlanta team that averages an NBA-best 20.2 points off turnovers and ranks second in takeaways with 16.9 per game.

The Hawks were 3-0 against Indiana last season, but George hasn’t faced them since averaging 23.9 points and 10.7 rebounds in the Pacers’ seven-game win in the first round of the 2014 playoffs. Teague has averaged 22.0 points during Atlanta’s four-game regular-season win streak over the Pacers.

It’s unclear if Hawks big man Tiago Splitter will play after leaving Saturday’s game with right leg soreness.