Playing against his former team, Harrington overcame a dismal first half to spark a third-quarter run, helping the Pacers over the Hawks 91-72 on Tuesday night.
“The biggest revenge you can (get) when you leave a team is to win the games every time you play against them,” said Harrington, who spent two seasons with Atlanta before returning to the Pacers during the offseason. “That’s my focus.”
After shooting 1-for-8 from the field in the first half, Harrington scored 14 points in the third quarter as Indiana opened a double-digit lead.
“The first half, I think I wanted them (my shots) to go in too bad,” he said. “All of them felt good, that’s why I was confident enough to keep shooting in the second half.”
“We just couldn’t score tonight,” Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. “We missed wide-open shots and looked very lethargic. I think we were our own worst enemy.”
The Pacers began to take control in the third quarter following Zaza Pachulia’s basket that pulled Atlanta within 38-35.
Sparked by Harrington’s 11 points, Indiana went on a 14-5 run to take a 52-40 lead with 6 minutes left in the period. O’Neal’s layup with less than a minute remaining put the Pacers ahead 61-48.
Indiana scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to take a 67-49 edge.
“Al did a great job of finishing the game and being aggressive,” said O’Neal, who played despite mildly spraining his left ankle during Monday’s practice. “We knew that he wanted it playing against his old team, and we just fed off of him.”
In the second quarter, Jackson’s acrobatic layup gave the Pacers a five-point lead, and Harrington’s jumper extended the advantage to 38-31 with less than a minute left in the period.
Indiana shot 36 percent from the field in the first half and Atlanta shot 35 percent. Each team committed eight turnovers before the break.
“When our defense is good, it gives us a chance to run and get easy baskets in transition,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “At a certain point, if you’re playing defense like that, you can take the wind out of their sails.”
Woodson, a former Indiana University star, returned to his hometown of Indianapolis. He played basketball at nearby Broad Ripple High School. …The Hawks snapped an eight-game losing streak on Saturday with an 86-74 victory over the Clippers. … Indiana improved to 5-0 playing on Tuesdays this season. … Atlanta fell to 5-13 on the road, while the Pacers improved to 10-5 at Conseco Fieldhouse.