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Rugged Johnson gives Hawks hope against Pacers
Indiana made four of its first six shots, building an 8-1 lead that prompted Drew to call a timeout less than 3 minutes into the game. After that, it was all Hawks. The Pacers missed 30 of their next 36 attempts, trailed 54-30 at halftime, and matched the lowest-scoring first half in the franchise’s playoff history.
“Shots weren’t falling, but we allowed those shots not to fall,” George said. “We weren’t aggressive. We weren’t taking up our own air space. They were making us catch the ball where they wanted. We really weren’t fighting for spots.”
If Petro isn’t available for Game 4, the Hawks will be in a bit of predicament. The 6-foot-8 Johnson could get the start at center, allowing Horford and Smith to stay in the roles that worked so well Saturday.
“I don’t want to disrupt that,” the coach said. “He’s done such a good job bringing us energy off the bench. I would hate to lose that if I put him in the starting lineup.”
Johnson will accept whatever role he’s given.
“I’m just trying to make my presence felt,” he told reporters after the game. “That’s a matter of being a big man. We’ve got to throw our bodies around to get what we want.”
“He’s a great energy guy, a guy that just constantly battles,” George said. “He’s an emotional player. The whole team feeds off his energy and his motor.”
Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963
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