– The Hawks are no longer undefeated but it shouldn’t be overlooked that they got down big but didn’t stay down against a team that causes them all kinds of matchup problems. “We didn’t give up,” J.J. said “We just can’t go out and start like that, especially in our house.”
– Marvin and Mo were in street clothes. Zaza and Twin might have as well have been in a game like this. If the playoffs are about matchups, then the Hawks saw the kind of team they don’t want to see in the postseason.
– The Suns have skilled wings all over the place and the Hawks, as presently constructed, don’t have any to spare. So L.D. felt like he had to use switches on defense to have a chance.
– “The thing that hurt us as far as the switches, we couldn’t match up the way we wanted to match up if you don’t have perimeters when they go small,” he said. “You have to go small along with them, especially when you play big and playing big is not effective. Tonight was a clear case how bad we needed a Marvin or a Mo so we could look at going a lot smaller and trying some other things defensively.”
– Drew abandoned the Twin lineup once it became clear the Suns were too fast. Josh Powell opened the second half at power forward but the game was too fast for him, too. Teague is fast enough for a game like this and was effective but he only played 17 minutes.
– Funny how Atlanta’s depth doesn’t look so great against a quality opponent like Phoenix. The Suns had a 46-19 edge in bench scoring and had 10 guys score at least six.
– Al has done a pretty good job when switched on Nash in the past. This time, though, Nash attacked the basket instead of settling for long, contested jumpers. Once he got Al thinking about that, he burned him with step-backs.
– “We have had some success with switching with Nash,” L.D. said. “Tonight he made some shots, which we knew chances are he was going to make some. We got a little complacent on a few of the Childress drives where that didn’t call for any help. We got sucked in and he kicked out to shooters. That’s failure to execute the gameplan.”
– Offensively, Al is suited for a game like this. Amazing line: 30 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks, 13 /16 FG, 4/5 FT, one turnover. “I don’t think anyone in the league works harder than Horford does on either end of the floor,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “Whatever they signed him for, it’s a bargain. He’s a stud.”
– Facing a high-powered offense for the first time, the Hawks appeared slow-footed on their rotations and unsure about their assignments in transition. Marvin and Mo would have helped check all those perimeter guys, but J.J. said: “It’s tough but no excuses. We are a better defensive team than that. Give them credit. They exploited what they thought were mismatches. They made a lot of tough shots down the stretch.”
– J.J. finally found his shooting stroke and used it often while scoring 34 points. He took eight of his 27 shots in the fourth quarter. But he again shared the wealth with six assists.
– J.J. on the missed drive with the Hawks down 114-112: “I think I had more guys guarding me than I expected. When I went up, three other guys went up with me and I really couldn’t see the rim. It was unfortunate, man. If i had to do it all over again, I’d probably do that play a little differently.”
– On the play before that, the Hawks were the victim of a switch when Bibby ended up on Channing Frye. His teammates sure were slow to help.
– The Hawks never got stops consistently but erupted for 38 points in the third quarter with Bibby and Jamal bombing away on 3-pointers. The Hawks don’t want outscoring opponents to be their identity but at least they know they are capable of doing it.
– Then again, the boxscore shows what’s become a common theme this season: The Hawks shot 54 percent yet found themselves in a tight game because something else went wrong. This time it was turnovers (14 for 23 Suns points). Other times it’s been rebounding. Usually it’s defense.
– Jamal was just 3 for 11 from the field but his seven points in the third quarter, including his second 4-point play in as many games, keyed Atlanta’s comeback. The Hawks needed more than 11 points from him, though.
– The fans booed Chills pretty good. I wasn’t around for that entire saga but people who were say they were surprised by the reception.
– L.D. rode the starters hard and now they have to turn around and play the Magic. It’s just one of 82 but not really.
– “We’ve just got to get a win,” Smoove said. “They have definitely had our number the last few times we have played them. Even the game we won we had to have a tip-in dunk. We just have to go out there and match their intensity. They play with a certain type of toughness, especially on the defensive end. I want to see where we are as a team with toughness.”
– I’m out, Hawks fans.