“Zaza likes to do his thing a little bit in the open court, so I’m not going to hate on his shine,” Smith said with a smile. “It was a better pass than a dunk.”
The Hawks, who had dropped two of three overall, increased their home winning streak to a season-high eight games.
Troy Murphy(notes) scored 21 for Indiana, which was trying to win six straight games for the first time since 2005. Danny Granger(notes), who was coming off a career-high 44 points in a home win Friday over Utah, finished with 18. He had averaged 31.9 over the previous seven games.
Particularly troublesome for Indiana was its poor perimeter shooting. After hitting six of nine 3-point attempts in the first quarter, the Pacers were 2 for 17 the rest of the game.
“Atlanta always gives you a problem because they switch every ball screen,” Granger said. “We really didn’t take advantage of it the way we should have tonight. We just gave them too many points in the paint, too. Too many easy points. We got the same (3-point) shots but we missed them.”
Atlanta has won six straight over the Pacers overall and six in a row at Philips Arena.
“Their athleticism up front always gives us problems,” Indiana coach Jim O’Brien said. “They were quicker to the offensive rebounds, quicker driving by us with Josh Smith and Al Horford. We’ve struggled with them all year.”
“He’s been consistent since the first day he stepped foot in Atlanta,” Hawks coach Mike Woodson said of Horford. “He’s been fantastic. He’s been on a nice roll lately, getting (eight consecutive) double-doubles, and we’re going to need him to continue to do that.”
Playoff-bound Atlanta took control shortly afterward and built a 17-point lead on consecutive dunks by Smith, the second of which made it 84-67 with 6:57 remaining.
The previous dunk, however, was a season highlight for Pachulia’s fan club.
Pachulia, a native of Tbilisi, Georgia, first beat Roy Hibbert(notes) to a loose ball created by Granger’s turnover and then began dribbling up the open court. Since Smith was trailing behind him, Pachulia froze Hibbert by making a behind-the-back pass with his right hand.
Pachulia, who averages 4.0 points and 3.6 rebounds in 13.5 minutes per game, wasn’t sure if he would watch the replay after he returned home Sunday night.
“I hope so,” he said with a grin.
The Hawks believe the next two games should help them gauge what to expect of their third straight trip to the playoffs. After the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers play at Philips Arena on Wednesday, Atlanta will visit Cleveland, which has the league’s best record, on Friday.
“It’s not going to be easy,” Crawford said. “They’re two tough teams, two of the best in the league.”
NOTES: At 30-7, the Hawks are the fourth-fastest team to reach 30 home wins this season behind Cleveland, the Lakers and Denver. On the road, Atlanta is 17-19 with three straight losses. … The Pacers dropped to 4-42 when trailing as they begin the fourth quarter.