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Pacers hope to shake string of losses to Hawks

Dec 26, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana,  USA;  Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) drives to the basket against New Orleans Pelicans forward Garrett Temple (41) and guard CJ McCollum (3) during the first half at Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers look to get back on the winning track when they return to Indianapolis for a four-game homestand that begins Tuesday against the Atlanta Hawks.

This is the first of three meetings between the two teams this season. The Hawks swept all four games against the Pacers in 2021-22, marking their first four-game regular-season sweep over Indiana since the 2005-06 season. In their four wins last season, the Hawks averaged 127.5 points on 54.6 percent shooting.

The Pacers are coming off a 113-93 loss at New Orleans on Monday. Indianapolis scored just 38 points in the first half and never got back into the game. Their two-game winning streak came to an end. The Pacers are 5-1 in the second game of back-to-backs.

Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton, who had totaled 76 points in the last two games, scored only 12 points on Monday. Haliburton was coming off a career-best effort in Friday’s 111-108 win at Miami. He scored 43 points and set a new franchise record by making 10 3-pointers. Haliburton made the winning 3-pointer with 4.3 seconds remaining.

Aaron Nesmith had his first career double-double on Dec. 18 against New York with 23 points and 10 rebounds. He has scored in double figures in six of the last seven games.

“Just playing free, playing to my strengths, playing off my teammates,” Nesmith said. “Getting comfortable and learning what guys’ tendencies are, where I can get open, where I can affect the game. Just making the right reads.”

Atlanta is coming off a 130-105 win over the Detroit Pistons on Friday. The 25-point margin of victory was its largest of the season and the most since a 27-point win over the Toronto Raptors on Feb. 26, 2022. In the second half, Atlanta outscored the Pistons 70-42 for its largest positive point differential after intermission and the largest since May 5, 2021, against the Phoenix Suns.

“I thought our guys stayed with it,” Atlanta coach Nate McMillan said. “I thought our guys played the game. The second half, we started to get more aggressive in our switches, keeping the ball in front of us. We did a better job keeping the ball out of the paint and making them shoot over us.”

Over the last four games, the Hawks are 3-1 and are averaging 122.3 points and 26.5 assists on 50.3 percent shooting, 40.2 percent on 3-pointers and 87.2 percent at the line. The Brooklyn Nets are the only other team to match those numbers since Dec. 16.

Trae Young leads the Hawks with 27.5 points and 9.9 assists. In his last game, Young had 26 points, 13 assists and only one turnover. That broke a stretch of three consecutive 30-plus point games. He averaged 32.3 points and 10.7 assists in Atlanta’s three games last week.

The Hawks fielded their complete lineup for the first time all season against Detroit when center Clint Capela returned.

“It was good to come out and get a good rhythm and get a good win,” Young said. “We’re 1-0 with everybody healthy.”

–Field Level Media