Hawks turn back Pacers to start five-game road trip with a win, snap three-game slide
Atlanta's Dwight Howard plays 33 minutes, making 10 of 12 field goal attempts. AP

THE Atlanta Hawks got a big lift from its new additions in taking down the Indiana Pacers, 96-85, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Wednesday (Thursday, Manila time)

Offseason acquisition Dwight Howard dominated early with 16 points before halftime, then rookie Malcolm Delaney gave the finishing touches, scoring 11 of his 13 points in the second half, to help the Hawks snap a three-game slump.

Howard hit his first seven shots, while Paul Millspap and Mike Muscala combined for 19 in the first two quarters as the Hawks built a 17 point lead. But the Pacers countered with an 18-6 run to cut it down to five to close the first half, 49-44

The Hawks started the second half strong to build the lead back to 12, but the Pacers scored 11 unanswered points to trim the gap to one, 65-64, before Atlanta restored order with a 21-4 blitz bridging the third and fourth quarters to lead by 18, 86-68. Indiana made its first basket after almost five minutes elapsed in the final period, missing its first eight attempts.

Monta Ellis and Thad Young led a last-gasp comeback attempt, hitting big baskets and forcing turnovers to cut the deficit to seven, 85-92, but former Hawk Jeff Teague had a costly error and Delaney knocked down a dagger jumper with 37.7 left to take the fight out of Indiana.

Both Howard and Millsap had big double-doubles for the Hawks, with the former ending up with 23 points and 20 rebounds while the latter had 18 markers and 11 boards. Atlanta began a five-game road trip with a win and improved to 10-5.

Young and Ellis led the Pacers with 24 and 19 points, respectively. Paul George struggled with his shot, going just 6-of-22 from the field to end up with 18 markers, as Indiana suffered its second straight loss and fell to 7-9.

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