The Indiana Pacers weren’t slowed by the absence of their top scorer, as they placed eight players in double figures and overpowered the host Atlanta Hawks 126-108 on Friday to post their ninth victory in 10 games.
The Pacers improved to 2-0 without Tyrese Haliburton, who leads the team in scoring (23.6 points per game) and leads the NBA with an average of 12.5 assists. Haliburton is out with a strained left hamstring that is likely to keep him sidelined for a minimum of two weeks.
The Pacers got 18 points apiece from Obi Toppin and Buddy Hield, 15 from Bennedict Mathurin and 13 from Aaron Nesmith. Myles Turner, Bruce Brown and Isaiah Jackson each scored 12, and Andrew Nembhard added 10.
It was Indiana’s third victory over the Hawks in three tries and the Pacers’ second victory in Atlanta. The teams’ final meeting will come in the regular-season finale at Indianapolis on April 14.
The Hawks, who took their third loss in four games overall, were led by Dejounte Murray with 29 points. Trae Young showed up three hours before the game to work on his free throws and went 3-for-3 at the line. However, he struggled through a horrible night from the field, making only 4 of 17 shots and finishing with 13 points, matching his season low.
Young and teammate Bogdan Bogdanovic both made the 1,000th 3-pointer of their careers.
The Pacers shot 84.2 percent from the field (16-for-19) in the first quarter and led 34-30. But after the game was tied 28-28, Indiana built a 53-34 lead with 8:08 left in the half.
The Hawks methodically began to trim the deficit and got as close as four points on Young’s three-point play with 5.8 seconds left before the break. A drive by Brown at the buzzer gave the Pacers a 68-62 halftime lead.
The Pacers quickly extinguished Atlanta’s hopes by outscoring the Hawks 8-3 to start the third quarter, then built a 20-point advantage and led 99-81 after three quarters.
Atlanta continues its five-game homestand on Saturday against the Washington Wizards. The Pacers play the second leg of their six-game road trip on Sunday at Denver.