Johnson, Lue lead Hawks' rally in victory over Pacers

ATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Hawks found themselves in a familiar position early in the third quarter.

Then came the unusual part: The Hawks didn't fold. In fact, they won.

Joe Johnson scored 28 points, Tyronn Lue provided an unlikely spark off the bench and the Hawks rallied in the second half for a 104-94 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Monday night.

"We made shots, we milked plays and we just didn't crack, which was really nice to see," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said.

The Hawks trailed 56-48 at halftime, and the Pacers twice stretched the lead to 11 in the opening minutes of the third quarter. Considering the Hawks have the worst record in the league and were coming off two blowout losses at home, another defeat seemed likely.

But Atlanta surged in front before the quarter was over. Lue helped turn things around after missing four games with a sore back.

The Hawks were down 61-50 when the guard checked in off the bench to key a 16-5 run. Lue made a 3-pointer, hit two free throws and came up with a steal that set up Al Harrington's dunk.

"When we were struggling, [Lue] really held us together with his leadership and running our offense for us," Woodson said. "I didn't really come in the game thinking I was going to play him 30 minutes, but he had it going. He was orchestrating and creating on offense, so I was content to leave him in there."

Lue, who had 15 points and seven assists, is still trying to get back in game shape, which was obvious after the game.

"Coach about killed me out there," he said. "But sitting out those four games while I was hurt, I think it was good because I could sit back and see what we needed out there on the floor. When you play the game, there's not really enough time to see what you need. We just needed leadership, someone to be vocal, to keep encouraging guys when they make a mistake."

Josh Smith came through with another big play during the game-turning spurt. He hustled downcourt to make a block on Stephen Jackson, which was followed by Johnson's lone 3-pointer of the game.

"In the first half, coach talked to me about not to be playing lackadaisical on defense," Smith said. "I made it my personal goal in the second half to pick up my intensity."

The Hawks closed the third quarter with another run, scoring nine of the last 11 points for a 75-71 lead heading to the fourth. Indiana fell apart down the stretch on the way to its third consecutive loss.

"I don't know what to think," said Jermaine O'Neal, who led the Pacers with 24 points. "There are the same questions every day. As a player, I don't know what to say. I don't know what's wrong with this team."

Indiana closed to 89-85 on Fred Jones' 3-pointer with 5:35 remaining, but Atlanta sealed the win by scoring 13 of 15, the last two baskets on jumpers by Lue.

"It's the first time I don't know where my team is," O'Neal said. "Obviously, we don't have enough pride."

Jackson added 21 points, but Indiana didn't play much defense against the Hawks, who shot nearly 56 percent (40-of-72) from the field.

Atlanta also took advantage of the Pacers' sloppy play at the offensive end, scoring 24 points off 18 turnovers.

"Anytime you turn the ball over that way, it's going to hurt your team," Jackson said. "We couldn't get stops. Joe Johnson and Lue were taking good shots."

Johnson hit 12-of-20 shots from the field, dished out six assists, came up with three steals and even had a block. He was much more effective with the return of Lue.

"He takes a lot of pressure off me," Johnson said. "I don't have to bring the ball up the court."

Harrington scored 20 points for the Hawks, while rookie Marvin Williams chipped in with 13 points.

Game notes
The Hawks have two straight wins over the Pacers after losing seven in a row to their former Central Division rival.
Atlanta won the first meeting of the season, 87-85 at Indianapolis on Nov. 25. ... The Hawks snapped a four-game losing streak to Indiana at Philips Arena. ... Jackson, O'Neal and Austin Croshere led the Pacers with eight rebounds apiece, more than anyone on the Hawks. Still, Atlanta trailed only 36-35 in rebounds. ... The Pacers were called for a technical in the third quarter for having an extra man on the court.