A quick perusal of the stat sheet held the glaring evidence of the Pacers domination of the Hawks.
Free-throws: Pacers 30 of 34; Hawks 7 of 14.
Rebounds: Pacers 48, (15 offensive); Hawks 32 (six offensive).
The Pacers exploited those numbers for a 107-90 victory over the Hawks Sunday afternoon in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference first-round playoff series. Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Wednesday.
Hawks coach Larry Drew said he would not allow his team to use the free-throw discrepancy as a crutch – even though the Pacers made more than double of the freebies the Hawks attempted.
“You can look at the stat sheet and you can draw your own conclusion on that,” Drew said. “I don’t think that was the deciding difference. I think we were still in position, in striking distance (in the fourth quarter). … We got beat because they outworked us.”
The Hawks scored the first six points of the game. It was their biggest lead. When George Hill hit a 3-pointer with 6:27 remaining it gave the Pacers a 15-13 lead – and advantage they would not relinquish. It was the only lead change.
The Pacers led by as many as 16 points early in the fourth quarter. Drew went with several reserves – with Al Horford and Josh Smith among the spectators – and the group got as close eight points. Drew said he stayed with that group because of the results.