INDIANAPOLIS — Monta Ellis finally found his shooting touch, rookie Myles Turner finally got a chance to start and the Indiana Pacers finally figured out how to deliver a knockout punch.
It was the perfect combination Thursday night.
Ellis scored 25 points, Turner added 20 points and six rebounds and the struggling Pacers finished the game on a 23-2 stretch to run away from the Atlanta Hawks 111-92.
"We just imposed our will. We got tired of losing," coach Frank Vogel said. "We got stops. Guys just made the necessary plays."
The Pacers had lost three straight, six of their previous seven and back-to-back games on their home court.
So Vogel made a change. Just 24 hours after sounding lukewarm about plugging Turner into the lineup, he reversed course. The move paid immediate dividends as Turner finished 9 of 17 from the field and broke a third-quarter tie with seven straight points.
When he returned to the game with 6:32 left, Indiana limited the Hawks to just two more baskets.
Turner’s presence helped his teammates get in sync, too.
Ellis went 7 of 11 from the field and made 5 of 7 3s after starting the game shooting 27.9 per cent from beyond the arc. George Hill added 18 points and finished with eight rebounds.
Four different players scored during a 12-0 run that turned a 90-88 deficit into a 100-90 lead and the defence Vogel had been looking for clamped down against the weary Hawks, who lost for the second time in two nights.
"Obviously, we hit a wall at the four-minute mark or whatever it was," coach Mike Budenholzer said. "I think it was 91-90 and they got to free throw line twice in a row and we were never really able to regain our footing."
Indianapolis native Jeff Teague finished with 20 points and five assists, while Al Horford scored 14 points to lead Atlanta.
The Hawks spent most of the first 3 1/2 quarters playing catch-up and in the fourth, they finally caught the Pacers when Horford capped a 12-1 spurt with a dunk to give the Hawks a 90-88 lead with 5:55 left.
But Hill answered with a 3, Paul George and Ellis combined to make five straight free throws, Ian Mahinmi scored on a dunk and Ellis hit an 11-footer to give the Pacers control.
"My role on this team is to provide energy and bring a spark and that’s what I did out there tonight," Turner said. "It’s all about opportunity. Tonight was a big (opportunity) for me."
Opponents will have to get used to Indiana’s new lineup. Before the game, Vogel said, "If it’s a colossal failure, we’ll go away from it sooner than later." Afterward, Vogel sounded even more confident about the change. "This is the lineup, when I look at it, I see Ian (Mahinmi) and Myles Turner and the rim protection there is as good as any in the NBA," Vogel said.
The Hawks were without forward Paul Millsap in the second half because of a sprained left ankle. Budenholzer said he had stepped on somebody’s foot and did not provide an update following the game. Millsap finished with four points and five rebounds in a little more than 13 minutes.
Over the years, the Pacers have had problems trying to defend shooting guard Kyle Korver. But they got it figured out Thursday. Korver was just 2 of 9 from the field and 1 of 7 on 3s, finishing with six points.
Hawks: The Hawks have lost two straight regular-season games to the Pacers after winning the previous four. … They were just 7 of 28 on 3s and were outrebounded 49-32. … Atlanta has lost four of its last five and has not won at Indiana since Dec. 8, 2014.
Pacers: Backup guard Rodney Stuckey has already missed two weeks with a sprained right foot and a bone bruise in the foot. Vogel said he is expected to miss more time before he returns. … It was coaches’ night in Indy, with Colts coach Chuck Pagano and Butler basketball coach Chris Hollmann both attending the game. … George was shut out in the first half and finished with 11 points, three rebounds and three assists.
Hawks visit Heat on Sunday.
Pacers host Nuggets on Saturday.