NBA playoffs: Horford leads Hawks to 90-69 rout of Pacers
Atlanta • As Al Horford led a lumbering fast break, David West doled out a flagrant blow that sent the Atlanta center tumbling to the court.
This time, the Hawks didn't back down.
Jeff Teague came up from behind to give West a shove, a play that epitomized a resurgent team intent on making this a series. That the Hawks did, stunning the Indiana Pacers with a dominant first half on the way to a 90-69 rout in Game 3 on Saturday.
Horford had 26 points and 16 rebounds to help the Hawks narrow the Pacers' lead to 2-1.
But everyone played with more energy that they did in two double-digit losses at Indianapolis.
"We wanted to show them we're here to play," Teague said. "We were not going to back down to them."
This one was over by halftime, the Hawks racing to a 54-30 lead that set a franchise record for fewest points allowed in the first half of a playoff game, and matching Indiana's worst effort in a postseason opening half.
Game 4 in the best-of-seven series is Monday night in Atlanta, where the Hawks have won 12 straight over the Pacers dating to 2006.
"This team did something they've done all year long," coach Larry Drew said. "They responded."
The Hawks changed up their lineup inserting 7-footer Johan Petro at center and bringing 3-point specialist Kyle Korver off the bench after getting manhandled on the road. With more favorable matchups and a lot more energy, Atlanta suddenly looked like a team that can challenge the Pacers.
"We were ready to go," Drew said. "Before the game, I went in the locker room to give my speech and it was quiet in there. That told me they were focused."