INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Atlanta finally has a winning combination.
Al Harrington did the work inside, Joe Johnson hit key shots and
found open shooters, and the Hawks took advantage of the sluggish
Indiana Pacers on Friday night for a surprising 87-85 victory.
The Hawks won their second straight for the first time since
April 2004 and ended a seven-game road losing streak that dated to
"It's great for us to come in here and beat a team like this,"
Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "These last two games we haven't
cracked, and hopefully that's a sign of maturity."
Despite shooting 36 percent from the field, Atlanta (2-9) still
did enough to win. It outrebounded Indiana and repeatedly beat the
Pacers to loose balls.
Harrington finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, while
Johnson had 16 points -- including a key 3-pointer with 1:10 left to
give Atlanta an 82-81 lead. Johnson also had seven rebounds and
Most surprising, though, was Indiana's dreadful effort. The
Pacers (7-4) hardly resembled the team that routed Cleveland one
They turned the ball over routinely in the opening minutes,
spent most of the night playing catch-up and never really appeared
in sync. Their three-game winning streak ended against an opponent
that hadn't beaten the Pacers since March 22, 2003.
Jermaine O'Neal had 30 points and 10 rebounds, while Sarunas
Jasikevicius added 14 points and five assists for the Pacers.
Part of the explanation for the Pacers' problems was the loss of
Ron Artest, one of the NBA's best defenders and Indiana's top
scorer. He was deactivated before the game with a bruised right
wrist and is to have an MRI on Saturday.
Fred Jones replaced him in the lineup, and coach Rick Carlisle
moved Stephen Jackson to small forward -- an adjustment that didn't
work. Jackson was 4-of-15 from the field and never was a factor,
but Carlisle refused to blame the loss on Artest's absence.
"You knew there would be some kind of letdown after last night,
and not having Artest was a factor," Carlisle said. "But you
can't let it go the way it did."
How ugly was it?
On one first-half possession, Jackson was handed the ball on an
inbound play as he tied one shoe, and Atlanta knocked it from his
hands and out of bounds. When Jackson got the ball back, he was
tying his other shoe and nearly threw it away. That drew boos from
a crowd that was weary of Indiana's lazy shots and lack of emotion.
At halftime, O'Neal and Jackson jawed at each other. Neither
player elaborated on the confrontation, and Carlisle called it a
private team matter.
The Hawks didn't care.
They jumped to an early lead, then rallied after Indiana scored
10 straight points in the third quarter, including two free throws
from O'Neal that gave Indiana its first lead at 47-46 with 5:45
"You could tell they weren't playing with any energy tonight,"
Childress said. "It almost looked like they didn't want to play
Indiana appeared to right itself early in the fourth quarter
when Jasikevicius hit a 3 on the Pacers' opening possession to give
Indiana a 59-57 lead.
But the Hawks stayed close until Johnson's 3-pointer with 1:10
left gave Atlanta an 82-81 lead.
And when Tyronn Lue missed two free throws with 8.7 seconds
left, it appeared Indiana had one more chance. Instead, Johnson
grabbed the rebound, drew a foul and hit 1-of-2 free throws to make
it 87-85 with 7 seconds remaining.
Jasikevicius' 3 from the corner bounced off the rim as the
"We never dug down, we never made a stand, we can't just show
up," Pacers forward Austin Croshere said.
Atlanta has now won five of its last 48 road games. ... The
Hawks' victory was their first in a non-overtime road game since
Dec. 10, 2004. ... The 85 points matched a Pacers' season low. ...
Atlanta finished with a 56-45 rebounding advantage. ... Indiana was
3-of-17 from 3-point range.