NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, February 18th (All times Eastern)
Atlanta Hawks (25-26) at Indiana Pacers (40-12), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Indiana Pacers begin the post All-Star break march to the best record in basketball Tuesday night when they host the Atlanta Hawks.
The Pacers begin the unofficial second half with a 40-12 mark, which puts them percentage points behind the Oklahoma City Thunder for the best record in the league.
Indiana is 2 1/2 games ahead of the two-time defending champion Miami Heat for best record in the Eastern Conference. Forget about the Central Division, the Pacers have almost mathematically wrapped that up already.
The Pacers head into Tuesday's tilt after only their third home loss of the season, an 81-73 setback on Wednesday. Indiana scored a measly 11 points in the fourth quarter.
Lance Stephenson had 13 points and 10 rebounds, George Hill scored 14 points and Paul George tallied 12 points and seven boards for Indiana, which has dropped two of its last three on the heels of a four-game winning streak.
Danny Granger finished with 13 and David West added 12.
George led the Eastern Conference to a win on All-Star Sunday night, including having a hand in getting the East a victory in the Dunk Contest. George finished with 18 points in the All-Star Game, while Roy Hibbert managed eight points and Frank Vogel guided the East to a 163-155 win.
The 318 combined points was an All-Star record.
"I keep trying to tell you guys, great offense beats great defense," Vogel said.
The Pacers lead the NBA in opponents' scoring and opponents' field-goal percentage.
Paul Millsap of the Hawks contributed six points to the Eastern victory in his first All-Star campaign. It was the first win Millsap experienced in some time.
The Hawks have dropped five straight and fell under the .500 mark. Atlanta has also lost three in a row on the road.
On Wednesday, the Hawks got clobbered in Toronto, 104-83.
"It's been a tough stretch," said Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer.
Gustavo Ayon scored a season-high 18 points on 9-of-11 shooting and grabbed 10 boards in the setback. Millsap had 17 points and sharpshooter Kyle Korver extended his streak of consecutive games with a 3-pointer to 120.
Jeff Teague chipped in 13 points and Cartier Martin managed 10 off the bench. DeMarre Carroll missed the Raptors game with a hamstring injury.
The teams split this season's two matchups, both of which were in Atlanta. The Pacers are 8-0 in Tuesday games this season.
02/18 10:26:58 ET