– The reserves won this one, turning back the Kings in the third quarter. Woody went with the bench players after the Kings got back in the game.
– No Hawks starter played more than 32 minutes. Five reserves played 10 minutes or more.
– “Energy,” Zaza said of the reserves’ impact. “Hustle plays. Defensive stops. We’ve got one of the best offensive players, Jamal Crawford, on our unit. I love our second unit all year long.”
– I got the feeling the reserves would like more opportunities to play major minutes when the starters are sagging. Maybe they will after this.
– “On the bench, it’s something we discussed is to try to get in there and bring some energy on the defensive end, first of all, and let the offense handle itself,” Joe Smith said.
– The Hawks have reached the halfway point of the season with 27 victories. They lead the Southeast Division and trail Boston by
one a half game for No. 2 in the Eastern Conference.
– “That’s good,” Smith said. “That means we are within reach of our goal of 50 wins.”
– Mo Evans sparked the Hawks in the third quarter after the Kings got back within four. He made a corner 3-pointer before blocking Tyreke Evans’ shot and corralling it for a fastbreak dunk. Zaza’s dunk off a pass from Crawford put the Hawks up 81-67.
– “There wasn’t a lot of people in the stands so we had to create our own energy,” Mo Evans said. “Everyone started to pick up off those defensive plays and the easy baskets.”
– So the Hawks had a video session Tuesday in which Woody calls out his vets for not leading the effort on D. J.J. agrees and says the perimeter guys in particular need to pick it up.
– And then the Kings promptly came out and scored 34 of their first 42 points in the paint. Like the Thunder two days before, the Kings kept reversing the ball and attacking the basket until they got what they wanted.
– The Hawks wanted to feed Al Horford on post-ups early. But the first time Woody called his number, Horford appeared confused and was slow to get in position. Then he was indecisive once Mike Bibby gave it to him in the post. The possession ended with a missed 3-pointer by Joe Johnson.
– Woody’s frustration was obvious early. He kept needing to tell guys where to go and they were slow getting there. He tried to put on a press in the second quarter but the Kings broke it with one pass when Smoove didn’t cover the middle of the court.
– That one prompted Woody to sit dejectedly on the bench. He feels your pain.
– But unlike you, he gets to do something about it. Eventually, Woody stopped barking at his starters and let his bench guys play out the third quarter.
– A second-quarter lineup featured Jeff Teague, Crawford, Evans, Smoove and Zaza. That’s allegedly a pretty good defensive lineup but the Kings opened the period with a 12-6 run.
– The Hawks finally picked it up, closing the first half with a 21-8 run. Breakaway dunks by Marvin Williams and Smoove got the crowd into it.
– Marvin was the most aggressive starter early. He had six points within the first eight minutes, including four free throws.
– Kings guard Tyreke Evans went right at J.J., who of course wasn’t going to give any ground to the rookie. Evans eventually grew frustrated with the refs.
– Got to like the Bibby-Smoove pick-and-roll game, especially if opponents are going to trap Bibby. He’s expert at getting it through, and Smith is unstoppable if he can explode to the rim without dribbling.
– Crawford converted his 22nd career 4-point play in the fourth (it was a bad call, but still). Crawford is two behind all-time leader Reggie Miller.
– As the final seconds ticked off, a fan told Woody: “Nicely coached game.” And it was. Woody seemed genuinely thankful for the kind words.
– I’m out, Hawks fans.