Originally created 01/19/01

Pacers 84, Hawks 76



INDIANAPOLIS -- For three quarters, the Indiana Pacers didn't even look like themselves.

Jalen Rose wasn't getting enough shots, Reggie Miller wasn't hitting enough shots, and the Pacers were in a giant scoring drought.

Then, in the fourth quarter, Rose and Miller came to the rescue - again.

Rose scored 14 of his 29 points in the final 12 minutes, and Miller knocked down a critical 3-pointer as the Pacers pulled away from the Atlanta Hawks for an 84-76 victory Thursday night.

"Reggie's a prime-time player, but he was battling an illness tonight," coach Isiah Thomas said after Indiana's third straight victory. "He didn't feel as good as he usually does. But he hung in the game and hung around, and at the end of the game it was Reggie and Jalen."

Until then, though, Miller and Rose looked like many of their teammates - lethargic.

The Pacers shot just 27 percent from the field in the first half and trailed 36-33 after two quarters, their second-lowest half of the season.

A big reason was the fact that Miller and Rose weren't themselves. Rose was just 3-of-6 in the first half, while Miller was 3-of-12.

But on defense, the Pacers excelled.

"What we wanted to do and what we set out to do at the start of the season, was to make our mark on defense," Thomas said. "So far, we have made our mark on defense and every night we get better and better."

The Hawks can attest to that.

They shot 37.2 percent, were outrebounded for only the fourth time in 16 games and became the third straight Pacers opponent to score fewer than 80 points. It's the first time since joining the NBA that the Pacers have held three straight opponents to fewer than 80 points.

"It was a combination of good defense and the inability to knock down shots," Atlanta coach Lon Kruger said. "Both teams did not shoot well, defense had something to do with that and our guys missed good looks."

Dikembe Mutombo, who had 14 points and 15 rebounds, opened the fourth quarter with a short hook shot and Brevin Knight followed with a 19-footer to give the Hawks a 61-56 lead with 11:01 remaining.

Then Rose made two free throws and hit a 17-footer to start a 9-0 run that gave Indiana the lead with 7:40 left.

"Jalen Rose played a good ballgame, especially in the fourth quarter," Knight said. "He started to feel comfortable with where our traps were coming from and he shot the ball quick."

The Hawks closed to 67-66, but Rose scored seven of the next nine Pacers points. And, after Jermaine O'Neal was ejected for throwing an elbow at the Hawks' Lorenzen Wright, Miller's 3-pointer gave the Pacers a 76-68 lead - and the game.

"We struggled early, but Jalen did a great job using his size against a smaller guard," Miller said. "We're playing much better. We're noticing a rise in the rankings. We'll use these three games as a stepping stone."

Wright led the Hawks with 19 points, and Jason Terry had 17.

Notes:

O'Neal started despite missing practice Tuesday with a sprained ankle. He finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds before being ejected with 3:59 left. ... The Pacers suffered another injury, though, when forward Austin Croshere sprained his left ankle late in the first quarter. He returned briefly late in the second quarter, then left again, Thomas said, because of the injury. ... Atlanta had outrebounded its opponents in 12 of the last 15 games entering the game, but the Pacers finished with a 53-45 advantage.