Indiana and Atlanta meet for the second time in less than a week when the Pacers visit the Hawks at Philips Arena.
Indiana’s 85-78 victory over the Hawks on Wednesday sparked a three-game winning streak for the top team in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers have lost just once in their last 11 games and are the only team in the NBA with 30 wins.
The Pacers are holding opponents to just 83.4 points per game, and showed why Saturday when they limited New Jersey to 9-of-34 shooting from the field in the second half and forced 13 turnovers.
“Our offense wasn’t going but defensively, we were tough tonight, especially in the fourth quarter,” said Ron Artest, who scored 18 points. “I could say they played horrible but I’ve got to give us some credit.”
The Hawks won for the second time in three games following a 75-70 triumph over the Toronto Raptors on Saturday. Nine of the Hawks’ 12 wins have come against opponents with records above .500.
Shareef Abdur-Rahim made the most of his poor shooting night by hitting his last three shots in the final minutes, finishing with 20 points and 12 rebounds. But Abdur-Rahim shot just 8-of-23 from the floor, as Atlanta made 39 percent of its attempts.
“For me, it really felt good because I was just struggling the whole night to make shots,” Abdur-Rahim said. “I was trying to make something happen, and to make those shots deep in the game put them in a tough situation.”
Toronto’s 70 points were an opponent season low for the Hawks.
STANDINGS (through Jan. 17): Pacers - 1st place (tied), Central Division. Hawks - 8th place, 18 1/2 GB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Pacers - O’Neal, 20.7 ppg and 10.6 rpg; Tinsley, 4.7 apg. Hawks - Abdur-Rahim, 19.5 ppg and 9.4 rpg; Terry, 4.9 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Pacers, 3-0.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 14; Pacers, 85-78. At Indiana, Miller scored all 13 of his points in the fourth quarter as Indiana bounced back after an overtime loss to San Antonio.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Pacers - 15-7 on the road; Hawks - 7-10 at home.