– Good, tough win for the Hawks. The Celtics were mad. The Hawks were ready. Philips (fourth sellout) was hyped.
– The tone was set before the game when Celtics center Kendrick Perkins called out Jamal Crawford: “We put a hit out on him today. Doc said somebody‘s got to step up and stop him.”
– “He owns us,” Rivers told his team.
– He still does. Crawford scored 28 points, including 18 in the first half, while dancing through the Celtics defense. He even had a 45-footer to end the first quarter and then uncharacteristically showed some real swag.
– Rivers said the Celtics had to “make (Crawford) score different ways,” and so he did. He went right at the Celtics despite the “hit” put out on him. He was 7 of 7 on free throws.
– Crawford heard about Perkins’ comments just before the Hawks took the floor. He got the word to his teammates. “I was kind of fired up, but I wasn’t too worried about it” Crawford said. “They can knock me down, and I’ll get back up. I know my teammates got my back.”
– You knew it was on when Perkins elbowed Smoove after he wrapped him up under the basket. The officials, who were bad both ways all night (that’s Tony Brothers for you), somehow determined Smoove deserved a flagrant foul.
– Woody got a technical for arguing that call. “Playoff game,” he said. “They (officials) let it go both ways. Bodies were flying around everywhere.”
– “They let it be known that it was going to be a physical game,” Mo Evans said. “They thought they were going to come in and bully us. We had that same mentality. We were going to be physical and protect our home court.”
– The Hawks led 53-41 at the half. Then the Celtics slowed the pace, ratcheted up the intensity and clawed back in it. They scored 32 points in the period, including 19 free throws, and limited the Hawks to two fastbreak points after they had 25 in the first half.
– “We’re better when we’re up and down,” Woody said. “Playoff basketball, a good team can force you into a halfcourt game. You’ve got to be able to execute.”
– It wasn’t always pretty–J.J. (16 in the fourth quarter) and Crawford were good separately, not so good as a unit–but the Hawks made enough plays down the stretch. More importantly, they didn’t back down.
– “We won’t stick our chest out yet,” Crawford said. “But we can stand up and look them eye-to-eye. We’ve got a lot of respect for them but we don’t fear anybody.”
– Mike Bibby’s defense was bad even by his standards. He played just nine minutes, three after halftime. His absence wasn’t really noticed. That’s two clunkers for Bibby since making those big shots to beat Houston.
– Paul Pierce was a force. Mo did just about all you can do against him.
– KG isn’t yet KG. Once he is back for real, he no doubt will make a big difference should the Hawks see the Celtics in the playoffs.
– Doc held back ‘Sheed when he approached the Hawks while they were celebrating after the game. It turned out ‘Sheed just wanted to give the Hawks some dap.
– “They played hard for four games,” Pierce said. “They took care of business, like we did to them last year.”
– That’s what you call grudging respect. It’s a start.
– Now the Hawks are off to Orlando to protect their Southeast Division lead. “We haven’t figured them out yet,” Woody said.
– I’m out, Hawks fans.