Neither side would probably admit it, but the matchup between the Atlanta Hawks and the Indiana Pacers has the makings of a pretty good rivalry. All of the key ingredients are in place as both teams figure to be in the mix to finish in the upper half of the Eastern Conference standings and they simply don't look like they like each other very much.
Hawks center Jason Collins was charged with a flagrant foul and ejected in the final seconds of Wednesday's game after committing a hard foul on Indiana's Lou Amundson who attempted to score on Indiana's last possession. Post-game, Collins didn't agree with the call but his message was clear.
"You dribble the clock out in that situation if you are a true professional," Collins said. "That was not a Flagrant 2. I gave him a hard foul, that's all I did. He went in to try to dunk the basketball, first of all. If you are going to stop a dunk you have to deliver a hard foul. That's all that was."
There were other instances in the game as well. Ivan Johnson and Tyler Hansbrough were hit with double technicals in the third quarter and Lance Stephenson had words for the Hawks bench throughout the second half. Joe Johnson and Danny Granger have never been accused of being the best of friends.
A little motivation for the Hawks isn't always a bad thing. Atlanta has now lost their last two games to Indiana beginning with a 114-102 win on April 8 of last season. Prior to that, Atlanta had won nine consecutive games against Indiana which is a stat that I'm sure Granger and company were fully aware of. The rematch is scheduled for February 8 in Atlanta.