Hawks prey upon injury-depleted Pacers, 102-92
ATLANTA -- Jeff Teague scored 25 points, Al Horford added 20 and the Atlanta Hawks shook off a tumultuous offseason to beat Indiana 102-92 in their home opener Saturday night.
With President Jimmy Carter and rap star T.I. among the sellout crowd, the Hawks withstood an injury depleted Pacers team that never led but kept it close most of the way.
Indiana closed to 95-92 when Donald Sloan was fouled in the corner by Horford and knocked down all three free throws with 1:13 left. But Teague answered with a jumper, Sloan missed on a drive, and Teague made a pair of free throws with 26.6 seconds left to clinch the victory.
Teague scored 11 of Atlanta's first 22 points and came up big at the end.
Chris Copeland led the Pacers with 21 points.
Horford, returning from a pectoral injury that knocked him out most of last season, took advantage of his limited playing time. He made 9 of 14 shots in less than 28 minutes, showing plenty of hustle on a key fourth-quarter putback after getting his initial shot blocked by Roy Hibbert. Horford grabbed the loose ball, shook off Hibbert and banked it in with 2:42 left, pumping his fist after the ball fell through to extend Atlanta's lead to 93-83.
The Pacers traveled to Atlanta without injured players David West, George Hill and C.J. Watson. Their depth was further depleted when Rodney Stuckey tweaked his sore left ankle in the first half, ending his night after only 6 minutes.
But Indiana hung around right to the end. In addition to Copeland's performance off the bench, all five starters also scored in double figure. Hibbert and Sloan both had 14 points.
Coming off an opening loss at Toronto, the Hawks relished a joyous night after a troubled summer.
General manager Danny Ferry is still on an indefinite leave after making a racially charged assessment of free agent target Luol Deng during a conference call with the team's owners. An internal investigation into Ferry's comments revealed a 2-year-old email sent by one of the owners, Bruce Levenson, complaining that African-Americans were keeping away potential white fans.
Levenson and his main partner agreed to sell their majority stake in the team rather than face possible NBA discipline in the wake of the Donald Sterling brouhaha, creating more uncertainty as the Hawks await a new owner.
Pacers: Indiana shot just 38 percent from the field. The starters combined to make 19 of 52 attempts. ... Hibbert led the Pacers with 12 rebounds, and Luis Scola added 10. ... Solomon Hill had six assists.
Hawks: Coach Mike Budenholzer was looking for more effort after Atlanta was outrebounded 48-42 at Toronto. "I don't think any of us felt good about it," he said before the game. But the Hawks were again beaten on the boards, 44-37. No Hawks player has double-figure rebounds. ... First-round pick Adreian Payne missed his second straight game with an injured left foot. ...
Pacers: Host Milwaukee on Tuesday night.
Hawks: Travel to San Antonio on Wednesday night.