–This was nothing like the Magic game for the Hawks. They were ready from the jump, defended hard until the end and didn’t blink when the Heat threatened to open up a lead after halftime.
– Both teams went at each other hard and had their starters on the floor to finish. “It didn’t feel like a preseason game at all,” Jamal said. “As the preseason winds down, we’re just trying to get into a rhythm we can carry into the regular season and they are doing the same.”
– “Two teams came out and really made a statement,” J.J. said. “It was fun.”
– Props to J.J. for 27 points, six rebounds, six assists and just one turnover. He’s quietly been the most consistent guy in the preseason. You can see him start to figure out where he can find space in the motion offense. There are still some isos but, for the most part, he picks the right time to do his thing.
– “The Hawks have a little more movement offensively,” Udonis Haslem said. “Last year they were more of a one-on-one team. They still have versatile big players. They’re going to be just as good as last year, most likely better.”
– That remains to be seen but would anyone have said that about the Hawks just three days ago?
– The Heat didn’t have D-Wade and this game showed the potential problems when any of the Super Friends are out against good teams. LeBron went for 38 points on 11 of 22 shooting and 13 of 19 free throws; his nine teammates combined for for 51 points on 10 of 57 shooting and 11 of 15 free throws.
– “I’ve seen improvement in the defense the last couple games,” L.D. said. “Tonight we did a good job collectively on them. One thing I wanted them to focus on was the transition defense. We let LeBron get away a couple times but for the most part we did a good job with that.”
– Having LeBron means the Heat are never really overmatched. I can’t even say Marvin did a bad job against him. LeBron is just so big, fast, strong and skilled. That’s no revelation, I know, but the guy provides reminders each time you see him.
– “When LeBron comes to town you know he’s going to score 30,” Marvin said. “That’s what he does. It’s the other guys you’ve got to cut off.”
– 11 rebounds and nine points points on 4 of 8 shooting for Marvin. That plus good D gets it done.
– Smoove was really strong in the post against Bosh. He set the tone early by blocking his dunk attempt and stripping him of the ball a couple other times. He never let Bosh get comfortable.
– Josh also showed growth within a 5-minute span of the third quarter. Joey Crawford gave him a tech. “All I said was, ‘Hey Joey,” Smoove said, and J.J. backed up his story.
– Later, Josh was called for a foul on LeBron and calmed himself down, with his palms facing the floor. A few moments later he stole James Jones’ pass and soared in for a dunk that gave the Hawks their first lead of the second half.
– Bibby said he was putting it on himself to get guys easier shots. He ended up with five assists, made two big shots late in the game and showed some energy on D. His issues are well known but the guy is a pro.
– Teague looked like he needs more time to get back in rhythm.
– Jamal seemed less interested in defense than crossing over whomever the Heat put in front of him. His moves fired up the crowd, though. And he ended up with six free-throw attempts: “I’m just trying to get my timing back.”
– Al looked out of sorts again. He couldn’t get his jump shot to fall and too often settled for jump hooks far away from the basket. He still made four free throws, collected nine boards and three steals and did a good job challenging Bosh at the rim.
– Twin missed on a chance to send LeBron to the ground with a foul, instead just touching him as he went by. He made amends a few minutes later with a hard foul on Bosh that prevented a dunk.
– Josh Powell was active again. He’s not shy about shooting the ball or mixing it up.
– With all of the regulars available and the regular season approaching, L.D. said he’s starting to set his rotation . Tonight that meant 22 minutes for Powell and the first DNP-CD for JC2.
– “Jordan will have his time for sure,” Jamal said. “He’s a really, really good player. But I think right now we are settling down into what we will do in the regular season.”
– Good effort for the Hawks, especially defensively, but they know the next step is to keep it up.
– “I knew this was a big game and I never have to worry about us in big games,” J.J. said. “It’s ther other games that are not so big that I worry about [the energy].”
– “That’s how you become a great team is to do it night in and night out regardless of what the offense is like,” Al said.
– “We knew it would be like that,” Josh said. “We stepped up and played with passion and with our hearts out. That’s how we’ve got to play all the time. I think this is the toughest division in the NBA and wins are going to be precious. This showed that we can play with them and be a force to be reckoned with but we’ve got to do with with everybody.”
– I’m out, Hawks fans.