INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Jeff Teague scored 25 points in the Atlanta Hawks’ 107-88 rout Sunday of the reeling Indiana Pacers, who were held to a franchise-low 23 points in the first half of an embarrassing performance on their home floor.
The Hawks (34-42) have won three of four and extended their lead over the Knicks for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference to two full games.
The Pacers (53-25) have lost four of five and fell a full game behind Miami in their quest for the No. 1 seed in the East. Paul George scored 18 points and David West had 17 on a night All-Star center Roy Hibbert did not play the final 30 minutes.
Atlanta jumped to a 9-0 lead, extended the margin to 33-11 after one and 55-23 at the half. The Pacers couldn’t get closer than 13 in the second half.
The Hawks appear back on track at just the right time. They knocked down 12 3-pointers, shot 56 percent from the field against the league’s best defense and ended a three-game losing streak at Indiana.
But for the Pacers, things are falling apart fast.
Since beating Miami on March 26 to take a three-game lead in the conference standings, they have given away the conference lead. After a sixth straight road loss Friday night at Toronto, strong wind gusts pushed a baggage cart into the team plane, creating a hole that forced Indiana to stick around even longer and cancel Saturday’s scheduled practice.
The Pacers sure could’ve used it.
Indiana missed its first seven shots, coach Frank Vogel benched his entire starting lineup with 6:05 left in the first quarter, and things continued to crumble. The Hawks scored the final five points of the first quarter to take a 33-11 lead that brought out boos.
Mike Scott and Shelvin Mack then hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give Atlanta a 45-15 lead with 8:39 left in the second quarter.
It was the fewest first-half points Indiana ever scored in its NBA history, four fewer than they had against the Clippers on Nov. 10, 2004.
Frustrated players shook their heads, and frustrated fans serenaded the Pacers with boos as they left the court.
With Hibbert on the bench to open the third quarter, Indiana finally showed some spark. After giving up another 3 to Pero Antic, Indiana used an 11-2 run to get within 60-34 and an 11-0 spurt got Indiana as close as 75-59 late in the third.
But Atlanta scored the last four points of the third and the first four of the fourth to rebuild an 83-61 lead and never let Indiana get closer than 15 until the final two minutes.