ATLANTA — After a tumultuous summer, the Atlanta Hawks relished a joyous home opener against the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season.
Jeff Teague scored 25 points, Al Horford added 20 and the Hawks held off the depleted Indiana Pacers 102-92 on Saturday night.
With President Jimmy Carter and rap star T.I. among the raucous sellout crowd, Atlanta led all the way but got a scare from a Pacers team that was missing three key players and lost Rodney Stuckey in the first half.
Indiana closed to 95-92 when Donald Sloan was fouled in the corner by Horford and knocked down all three free throws with 1:13 left. But Teague answered with a jumper, Sloan missed on a drive, and Teague made a pair of free throws with 26.6 seconds left to clinch the victory.
"It was nice to see the fans out here supporting us," said Paul Millsap of the Hawks, who lost their season opener at Toronto. "With all that we went through, we were able to get out there and play basketball."
General manager Danny Ferry is still on indefinite leave after making a racially charged assessment of free-agent target Luol Deng during a conference call with the team's owners. An internal investigation into Ferry's comments revealed a 2-year-old email sent by one of the owners, Bruce Levenson, complaining that African-Americans were keeping away potential white fans.
Levenson and his main partner agreed to sell their majority stake in the team rather than face possible NBA discipline in the wake of the Donald Sterling scandal, creating more uncertainty as the Hawks await a new owner.
"We've got to take care of business on the court," DeMarre Carroll said. "The rest will take of itself."
Teague scored 11 of Atlanta's first 22 points and came up big at the end against the Pacers, who rallied to beat the Hawks in a seven-game playoff series last April.
Chris Copeland scored 21 points for the Pacers, who traveled to Atlanta without injured players David West, George Hill and C.J. Watson. Stuckey tweaked his already sore left ankle in the first half, ending his night after only 6 minutes. He'll be re-evaluated on Sunday.
"We're fighting hard," Copeland said after the Pacers dropped to 1-2. "We can do better, though."
Horford, returning from a pectoral injury that knocked him out most of last season, took advantage of his limited playing time. He made 9 of 14 shots in less than 28 minutes, showing plenty of hustle on a key fourth-quarter putback after getting his initial shot blocked by Roy Hibbert. Horford grabbed the loose ball, shook off Hibbert and banked it in with 2:42 left, pumping his fist after the ball fell through to extend Atlanta's lead to 93-83.
"In the fourth, I kind of got a second wind and started feeling better," Horford said.
Pacers: Indiana shot just 38 percent (31 of 81) from the field. ... In addition to Copeland's performance off the bench, all five starters scored in double figures, led by Hibbert and Sloan with 14 points apiece. ... Hibbert had a double-double, leading the Pacers with 12 rebounds. Luis Scola added 10 rebounds.
Hawks: The Hawks have been outrebounded in the first two games. Indiana held a 44-37 edge on the boards. Carroll led the Hawks with nine rebounds. ... The Hawks shot 51 percent (35 of 69) from the field. ... Kyle Korver hit a pair of big 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. ... First-round pick Adreian Payne missed his second straight game with an injured left foot.
"We had a chance to be 3-0. I'm not happy about being 1-2." — Pacers coach Frank Vogel.
The Hawks pulled out all the stops for their home debut. T.I. performed before the game, at halftime, and afterward. He started out wearing a vintage Dominique Wilkins jersey. "I like that," beamed Wilkins, now a Hawks television commentator. Carter and wife Rosalynn watched from the front row. A number of retired Atlanta players were also on hand, including Spud Webb, Kevin Willis and Jon Koncak. In addition, the Hawks unveiled a new scoreboard, two new videoboards, and a court projection system.
Pacers: Host Milwaukee on Tuesday night.
Hawks: Travel to San Antonio on Wednesday night.
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