Isaiah Rider and coach Lenny Wilkens had nothing to argue about anymore. Winning changes that.
"He proved tonight how he can help the ballclub," said Wilkins, who has been at odds with his new star so far this season. "I told him `Just play. All I want you to do is to be on time, just play basketball.'"
"As long as we play hard and win, I'm here," he said. "That's the key to me winning."
The loss was Indiana's first in four games in its new home, Conseco Fieldhouse.
"He was getting his shots going," Mutombo said of Smits' first-half effort. "We started rotating. The plan was don't let the rest of their guys get going."
Mutombo got some defensive help, as the Hawks switched their defense to push Smits away from the baseline. The ploy worked, as the Hawks held Smits scoreles in the second half.
"The first half was something for me to build on and to have a good game. I didn't," Smits said. "I had the open looks, but couldn't get it to fall down."
Indiana trailed 99-86 in the fourth quarter before mounting a rally that fell short. Al Harrington hit a free throw and a fast-break basket to start a 13-4 run.
Jackson countered with a layup to quell the comeback.
Indiana's only lead came on Miller's 3-pointer midway through the second quarter. He hit another 3 with 3:12 left for a 50-50 tie.
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