Make that seven straight.
The Hawks won – in convincing fashion – again. This time they took out the Pacers 108-92 Monday in Indianapolis. It was the seventh straight win for the Hawks, including four in a row on the road, and their ninth victory in 10 games.
The last time the Hawks won seven straight games was Nov. 11-20, 2009.
Al Horford led all scorers with 25 points – 10 more than the highest Pacer scorer. He added eight rebounds, three assists, three blocks and one steal. Jeff Teague added 21 points, of 8 of 11 shooting, with seven assists. Teague was a team-high plus-20.
Here are my five observations on the win:
1. The Hawks jumped on the Pacers early. They led 28-18 after the first quarter. The Pacers led 8-7 with 7:31 left in the first quarter. Teague then feed Horford for an Alley Oop dunk and then Hawks never trailed. The 10-point lead would grow to as much as 18 points in the second quarter and a game-high 21 points in the third quarter. The Hawks have now led by at least 16 points in six of their past seven games.
2. Credit much of the fast start to the 3-point shooting. The Hawks made 5 of 9 from long range in the first quarter, including three by DeMarre Carroll. They went 4 of 12 the rest of the way.
3. The Hawks had a strong finish to the first half. The Pacers pulled to within 10 points, 53-43, with 1:52 left in the second quarter. The Hawks ended the half with a 7-0 run that included three layups by Teague. The point guard has shown time and again this season he can take over in stretches. He did again and the Hawks’ lead was 17 at the half, 60-43.
4. Here is the thing about the Hawks, especially during the win streak. It has been different players who stepped up each night. Monday it was Horford. In Sunday’s win over the Nuggets it was Paul Millsap. It’s been Teague, Kyle Korver, key minutes from the bench including Dennis Schroder and Mike Scott.
5. Sure, the Pacers are not the same team from the playoffs – a series the Hawks should have won. Paul George is out. George Hill is out. Lance Stephenson is gone. David West only recently returned from injury. West usually kills the Hawks with his physical game and mid-range jumper. He was a non-factor Monday. The forward finished with just eight points and four rebounds in 24 minutes. Center Roy Hibbert, the other starter from last year, had just eight points and five rebounds. The Pacers were not going to win if they could not make the most of a height advantage in the middle.