INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Danny Granger broke out of a shooting slump - at the Atlanta Hawks' expense.
Shooting 3 of 5 from 3-point range and 9 of 16 overall, Granger scored 24 points in the Indiana Pacers' 96-84 victory over the Hawks on Wednesday night.
``I never shoot good at the beginning of the season,' Granger said. ``Nothing different. I knew it would come around at one point. Everybody else was worried about it more than I was.'
Roy Hibbert added 12 points and 11 rebounds, and David West and Lance Stephenson also had 12 points each to help the Pacers improve to 7-3 - matching their best start since 2005-06. Indiana also is 4-0 at home for the first time since winning its first seven home games in 2002-03.
``When you play the right way, good things happen,' Pacers coach Frank Vogel said about Granger, who missed the Pacers' last game because of food poisoning. ``Even though his ankle was hurt, being out last few days, he maybe got his legs back under him a little bit. When you play the right way, you're going to be effective. He didn't force anything.'
Josh Smith led Atlanta with 16 points, Joe Johnson had 15, Zaza Pachulia 11 and Willie Green 10. The Hawks dropped to 7-4.
``We did everything wrong,' Hawks coach Larry Drew said. ``We turned the ball over, we missed layups, we missed blockout assignments. Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong in the third quarter. It seemed like we just hit a wall after that.'
Granger and Hibbert scored all the points as the Pacers, up 53-50 at the half, put together a 16-2 run in the third quarter to make it 71-54 with 5:07 to go in the period.
After the Hawks scored five straight, the Pacers finished the quarter with an 8-0 run, capped by Jeff Foster' 3-pointer that made it 79-59.
Indiana was 10 of 19 from the field in the quarter, while Atlanta was 4 of 20.
``We wanted to turn it up a notch,' Granger said. ``We know they're a really good team, but they're not very deep. They don't play a lot of players. We wanted to get out in transition as much as we can. When we did that, I think it put some pressure on them.'
Indiana pushed the lead to 24 points midway through the final quarter.
The Hawks' Jason Collins was ejected with 3.5 seconds remaining for a flagrant foul on Lou Amundson.
NOTES: Indiana won for just the second time in its last 11 games against the Hawks. ... Hawks guard Tracy McGrady was ruled out before the game because of back spasms. ... Hawks forward Al Horford strained his left shoulder battling under his own basket and was sidelined with 6:14 remaining in the first quarter.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved