By Kyle Beery | @BeeryK
Late game situations have doomed the Indiana Pacers (26-23) all season long. Friday night, the Pacers once again failed to execute late in the game, losing to the Atlanta Hawks (29-22), 102-96.
All-Star starter Paul George hit a circus three-pointer to pull the Pacers within two points, with just more than a minute to play.
The Hawks extended the lead to four, and that’s where the Pacers’ late game struggles came into play. Instead of trying to play for a quick shot, trimming the deficit back to two points, George put up a forced three-pointer, and Atlanta extended the lead on the next possession.
George finished with 31 points on 7-of-12 shooting from three-point range. Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 24 points, and Al Horford had 21.
While late game struggles have been a theme for the Pacers this season, a recent bright spot has been the performance of rookie big man Myles Turner in the absence of Ian Mahinmi.
Turner made his fifth start Friday, recording 12 points and seven rebounds.
Lavoy Allen had one of his best performances of the season with 13 points and 14 rebounds off the bench.
Friday was the first time in franchise history that the Pacers out-rebounded a team by 20 and lost. They held a 53-32 advantage, including a 34-29 edge on the offensive glass.
The Pacers have a quick turnaround, as they host the Detroit Pistons Saturday night at 7 p.m. Indiana is 2-7 on the second night of back-to-back games, having lost six straight.
The Pacers are 2-1 against the Pistons this season, winning the last meeting 94-82 in early January. There was an altercation after the final buzzer in that game, which could lead to a little high tension on Saturday night.