I’ll be back soon on the Hawks’ 91-88 loss to the Indiana Pacers, which evened the playoff series at 2-2. Until then, here are my three “Short Takes” on the game:
UPDATE: Here’s a link to the full subscription column.
1. WAKE-UP CALL? This wasn’t necessarily a dominating performance by Indiana. They were being steam-rolled by the Hawks in the second quarter — 19-8 to open the quarter, including 15-2 in one stretch — and David West and Paul George both missed consecutive free throws down the stretch. But the Pacers finally showed a heartbeat in Game 4, and that could mean trouble for the Hawks the rest of this series. Because for all of the great things the Hawks have done, Indiana is a more talented team and if it can match Atlanta’s effort, they’ll win.
2. IT STARTS WITH WEST: Paul George led Indiana with 24 points. But the Pacers don’t win Game 4 without forward David West. Indy has taken a pounding in the court of public opinion for seeming distracted and their perceived lack of effort in this series but don’t include West in that mix. He worked hard at both ends of the court, and in the second quarter implored his teammates to get into the game and even yelled at the bench, “Let’s go!” Eventually, Indy teammates caught on that this was a playoff series and it, you know, mattered. The Pacers battled the rest of the way.
3. OPPORTUNITY LOST: The Hawks will go back to Indy believing they should be holding a 3-1 series lead. They led by as much as 10 points in the third quarter. They led by five points 83-78 with four and a half minutes left. But they committed nine turnovers in the second half, shot poorly down the stretch and finally met up with an opponent that matched them in intensity. This team isn’t talented enough to get away with mistakes in close games.