Hawks-Pacers Preview

The Atlanta Hawks’ lone losing streak of the season is over, but

they’re not impressed with how it ended.

Unlike the Hawks, the Indiana Pacers would like to repeat their

most recent performance.

Coming off a busy week, Atlanta goes for its seventh straight

victory in this matchup Tuesday at Conseco Fieldhouse.

After opening 6-0, the Hawks (7-4) dropped four straight before

Sunday’s 111-105 home win over Minnesota.

Up 15 with 8:14 remaining, Atlanta led by just four with 11

seconds left.

Playing poorly with the lead has been a problem for the Hawks,

who are shooting 35.0 percent when ahead by 15 or more. Their

opponents are hitting nearly 49 percent when facing that

deficit.

“We had ample opportunities to create separation but we made

some bad plays and made some bad decisions,” coach Larry Drew

said.

“It’s not a time to panic. It’s an area I will continue to pay

attention to every single day.”

Drew will have plenty of practice time to address that this week

with his club not playing until Saturday against Dallas following

Tuesday’s game.

While Atlanta tries to improve to 5-1 on the road for the first

time since 1997, the Pacers (4-4) open a three-game homestand

following Saturday’s 99-85 victory over Cleveland.

After yielding 54 second-half points in a 102-99 home loss to

Houston on Friday, Indiana limited the Cavaliers to 27.8 percent

shooting and 31 points in the final 24 minutes.

“It was really good defense in the second half and a good bounce

back win,” coach Jim O’Brien said. “Our wings, Michael (Dunleavy)

and Danny (Granger) were terrific.”

Granger scored a season-high 34 points and Dunleavy added 20,

combining to go 9 of 17 from 3-point range. The Pacers improved to

3-0 when totaling more than 20 assists.

“When we are able to move the ball and we share, we’re hard to

guard,” Dunleavy said. “Hopefully we can keep that up.”

Dunleavy wasn’t a factor last season versus the Hawks – missing

one meeting with an injury and combining for nine points in the

other two – as the Pacers were swept.

A heel injury caused Granger to miss a 110-98 loss in the Hawks’

last visit to Indiana on Dec. 26, but the All-Star forward has

averaged 23.5 points in his last six home games versus Atlanta –

the Pacers won five.

Hawks swingman Joe Johnson, averaging 26.5 points in his last

four games at Conseco Fieldhouse, is scoring 22.0 per game in the

last five contests after finishing with 15 or fewer in his previous

three.

Coming off his sixth double-double of the season with 28 points

and 10 rebounds, Atlanta’s Al Horford looks for another big game

against Pacers center Roy Hibbert.

Horford, averaging 19.7 points and 15.2 rebounds during the

Hawks’ six-game winning streak versus Indiana, scored 25 with a

season-high 19 boards in the Dec. 26 win. He had a double-double in

the first half of that matchup, prompting O’Brien to bench Hibbert

for all but 39 seconds of the third quarter.

Hibbert has three double-doubles in his last six games and is

averaging career highs with 16.1 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.0

blocks.

Hawks forward Josh Smith, also among the league leaders in

blocks (2.9), has averaged 20.8 points during the winning streak

versus Indiana which dates back to Nov. 18, 2008.