The Atlanta Hawks will try to knot up their Eastern Conference playoff series with the Indiana Pacers Monday night when the two teams meet in Atlanta.
The Hawks clawed back into the series with a resounding, 90-69 thrashing on Saturday night. That moved this Eastern Conference quarterfinals matchup to 2-1 in favor on Indiana.
"This team has done something they've done all year long and that's respond," Hawks head coach Larry Drew said. "After two losses in Indiana and coming home, which I really felt this group would respond, we came out early and the energy was there."
The Hawks were dominant at the defensive end on Saturday, holding the Pacers to 27 percent shooting from the field and 16 percent from long range. Three Indiana starters didn't score in double figures and the Pacers committed 22 turnovers.
The Pacers didn't score 20 points in the first three quarters, and hit the 20- point mark in the fourth quarter, when the game was long over. Atlanta was 24 points ahead at the half.
Al Horford had a huge game with 26 points and 16 rebounds. Josh Smith managed 14 points and Jeff Teague added 13.
Drew made a decision that paid off substantially. In Game 3, after watching Indiana's Paul George torch his squad in the first two games, Drew inserted Johan Petro into the starting lineup in place of Kyle Korver. That moved Smith to the small-forward spot and he held George to 16 points.
Petro's availability for Monday is in question. He is with his family in Miami after the birth of their child.
The Pacers will try to shake off their disappointing performance on Monday. Problem is, Indiana has a 12-game losing streak in Atlanta, dating back to 2006.
"As a parent, your kids will get away with whatever you allow them to get away with," explained Pacers coach Frank Vogel. "As a coaching staff, you have to make sure you're hammering at details and being sure they execute what they're supposed to execute."
And in the chess game of playoff basketball, Drew's move to a bigger lineup proved wise.
"I'm not used to guarding bigs. I'm used to guys who are good coming off screens and the quicker guards," George said. "The more and more I get acclimated to guarding bigs, I'll be fine."
In Game 3, David West paced Indiana with 18 points, followed by George's 16. Gerald Green was the only other double-digit scorer for the Pacers with 10 off the bench.
Roy Hibbert only managed eight points and the starting backcourt of George Hill and Lance Stephenson combined for seven points on 2-for-15 shooting from the field.
Game 5 is scheduled for Wednesday night in Indianapolis.