–Maybe the Grizzlies make the playoffs in the West if everyone stays healthy (have you seen their bench?). Perhaps the Wizards sneak into the East playoffs if Arenas ever gets his body and mind right. Cleveland, Philly, Detroit and Minnesota are not very good.
– So no one is saying the Hawks have run through a gauntlet of good teams while starting 6-0, and that includes the Hawks: “I don’t know if we’ve played any playoff teams,” J.J. said, “but a win is a win.”
– Besides, as Al noted, there’s another side to the “haven’t played anyone” coin: “Last year we gave up games like this to teams that didn’t make the playoffs. We are heading in the right direction, and it’s good to see.”
– It was the Hawks’ sixth consecutive road victory dating to last season. The Hawks have had only three longer road streaks in franchise history: eight games spanning the 1966-67 and 1967-68 seasons and seven games in both 1968-69 and 1993-94.
– In three of their four road games, the Hawks closed out Ws after opponents made their inevitable runs. Thing is, with the exception of maybe the Cleveland game, it never felt like the Hawks were losing control.
– OK, so the Hawks allowed Minnesota to score 32 points in the fourth quarter. But they didn’t panic. So could it be they are using this early run of road games to build a new identity as a tough out away from Philips?
– “I certainly hope so,” L.D. said. “Again, when you talk about being a good team, you’ve got to be able to go out and win on the road. I don’t care who the opponent is. We have been a team that is trying to mature on the road. In the past, in certain cases we’ve gotten leads and lost them and caved in.”
– Not so far this year. Look at what happened after Corey Brewer’s steal and dunk got Minnesota within 94-87: Jamal converts a four-point play. Smoove closes from underneath the basket to force Kevin Love to miss a 3. Bibby picks Telfair’s pocket. Joe makes two free throws. Smoove draws a charge on Beasley. Horford makes a jumper.
– Ball game. “We are just taking our time and we are executing down the stretch,” Smoove said. “We have enough guys that can score points. When you execute down the stretch, that’s what makes it so difficult [to guard us].”
– Josh played 40 minutes and was fantastic with 22 points, eight rebounds, six assists, five blocked shots and three charges drawn in the second half. He avoided his usual bugaboos of turnovers (zero) and missed jumpers (4 of 6 from beyond 10 feet).
– “I was a little fatigued,” he said, “but it is all mental. You have got to push through it. I worked on my endurance in the offseason and it’s paying off.”
– Josh tied Dikembe for No. 2 on the franchise career blocks list with 1,095.
– With Marvin (knee) and Mo (knee) back in Atlanta, L.D. opted to shift Smoove to small forward and continue to bring Jamal off the bench. Both guys were key, so clearly L.D. is a genius.”You can call it want you want,” L.D. said, laughing.
– By my count, this makes three games where the Hawks would have lost without Jamal doing his thing. He scored 10 of Atlanta’s 30 points in the second quarter and 10 of their 30 in the fourth. He was even energetic while challenging shots. The six turnovers against one assist were the only blemishes.
– “He’s a shotmaker,” L.D. said. “You need a guy like that especially when the team is off to a slow start or a situation where we need a basket. We know with him, we can run some plays and he’s always been a producer. He gives us exactly what we need. He plays his role better than anybody I’ve seen. That’s a big plus having a guy like that.”
– “It wasn’t just me,” Jamal said. “I thought Josh Powell, [JC2], Jeff Teague, Zaza all did a great job. That’s our job coming off the bench is to provide a lift.”
– L..D. keeps riding his bench and the Hawks are showing some real depth
– J.J. seemed a bit dejected after the game, no doubt frustrated that he can’t buy a shot lately. L.D. gave Joe a pep talk before he headed for the bus.
– Part of the reason Drew installed the offense was to prevent opponents from locking in on Joe and taking some pressure off of him. The approach is working so far considering the Hawks keep winning even when J.J. isn’t at his best. “I guess so,” Joe said. “It is kind of equal opportunity out there. The ball just moves and guys are getting wide open shots and knocking them down.”
–”The last couple games, there has been a lid on the basket for Joe,” L.D. said. “In the past we have struggled when he hasn’t shot the ball well. I think it goes to show the depth of our team. We have guys that can score the ball, guys that have committed to what coaches are instilling in them.”
– Credit goes to Joe for sharing the ball, too. The Hawks have quickly taken to the motion offense. “I think guys are playing with more confidence, more freedom,” Al said. “I think the ball movement on offense makes all the difference.”
– Another quietly efficient scoring night for Bibby. The guy remains a deadly spot-up shooter who has a natural feel for how to slip into space and let it fly.
– So we know Powell is going to shoot the ball. When he’s making them, his confidence is a good thing. When he’s not, it’s not. Tonight he was making them but one rebound, one block and one foul in 15 minutes (on a blocking call on the perimeter) suggests he wasn’t as aggressive on the defensive end.
– Team high eight free-throw attempts for Zaza. This is the kind of game where his roughhouse style is a real asset.
– Teague had one of his best games with five assists, no turnovers and a shoving match with T-Wolves hothead Sebastian Telfair. Minnesota likes to get physical but Teague and his teammates weren’t backing down.
– The Hawks gave up 16 offensive boards after allowing 17 to Detroit. They also had 15 turnovers that Minnesota turned into 28 points. Eliminate one of those deficiencies and it’s a blowout W>
– The Wolves couldn’t keep up with Atlanta in the open floor: 20 fastbreak points in the first half, 24 for the game. “We really wanted to get up and down and force them to run with us,” Drew said.
– L.D. said Marvin would be out “at least a week” with the bone bruise.
– I’m out, Hawks fans.