San Antonio–Tight game, tough opponent, and the Hawks had to make a few food plays to earn a big road W. You know how this one ends.
– “It’s frustrating,” L.D. said. “That’s kind of been our case. We were the same way in Miami, going down the stretch in the fourth quarter and we had an opportunity. Tonight we had an opportunity as well. We just didn’t get the job done.”
– The Hawks played without J.J. and Zaza and they could have used both guys. Then Smoove was limited to 13 minutes after halftime and Richard Jefferson suddenly was shaking free for open 3s.
– But consider that the Spurs turned back the Hawks with Tim Duncan playing zero minutes in the fourth quarter and Manu Ginobili sitting the final nine minutes. “I just thought the team that was on the court was doing the job, so Manu and Timmy stayed in the bench,” Gregg Popovich said. “Sometimes there’s a certain flow going on in a game and a group is doing well, so there’s no reason to change it.”
– He makes it sound so simple, doesn’t he? Must be nice to have a deep, veteran, disciplined club that can close out Ws with its two main guys watching from the bench. “They’ve been together for a long time so they know what it takes to win down the stretch,” Josh said. “They’ve been in so many close games together. It’s kind of unfair to play against a team like that.”
– The Hawks played well enough for three quarters, took a 73-71 lead on Mo’s layup and then came unraveled.
– After committing eight turnovers through three quarters, the Spurs cranked up their intensity, got in the passing lines and the Hawks had seven miscues in the fourth. The Hawks held the Spurs to 18 points in the third quarter, with Twin doing a pretty good job of making Duncan shoot over him, then gave up 37 points with role players Jefferson, DeJuan Blair and George Hill leading the way.
– And, oh yeah, Tony Parker ran the show. “It took until the fourth quarter to finally get a flow and get a rhythm,” Popovich said. “Tony was a big part of that.”
– Al had some costly turnovers. One led to a Hill free throw with the Hawks down 80-75 (and also gave Al his fourth foul). Blair took it from him with the Hawks down 94-86, leading to a Jefferson 3. Al also was responsible for a shot-clock violation with the Hawks trailing 65-64 in the third.
– “We put ourselves in a good position to win the game,” Al said. “It’s just the fact that I was being a little careless with the ball. I felt like we controlled the tempo of the game and we were right there. It’s just those few turnovers that really just changed the game completely. You can’t do that on the road.”
– San Antonio’s steals and 3-pointers energized what had been a relatively docile home crowd until the fourth quarter. “”You can play a little bit looser at home because you have the crowd to get behind you,” L.D. said. “But when you are on the road you have got to keep the crowd out of the game. You turn the basketball over, take ill-advised shots, the crowd gets back into it and you lose the momentum.”
– Josh left with 3:40 to go in the third quarter, soon after he had a tremendous block of Duncan’s fastbreak dunk attempt, and didnt’ return until 8:24 of the fourth. He said he tweaked his hamstring on the play but expects to play Saturday vs. the Pacers. “I just didn’t want to be out there hurting my teammates, so I had to come out,” he said.
– Smoove said he could have helped shut down the corner 3-pointers that Jefferson and Hill buried. “A couple of blown coverages when I went out of the game,” he said. “It’s always frustrating when you know you can help your team but I just wasn’t able to shake off those cramps.”
– With Zaza out, Josh Powell was forced to play some center. “We have enough big bodies, and with J.P. playing some five it allows me to play a guy who can stretch the defense a little bit with the pick-and-pop,” Drew said.
– Tough night for Bibby, who missed his first five jump shots and never found a flow. He tried going to the basket but just doesn’t have the lift to score among all those bodies.
– Marvin had moments where he looked explosive and other times where he seemed to struggle to walk. He played 42 productive minutes. “I’m OK,” he said. “I’m not complaining.”
– Jamal’s shotmaking kept the Hawks close in the first half. He had five assists against two turnovers and even got a couple of blocked shots.
– Damien Wilkins gave the Hawks 10 pretty good minutes. One thing I’ve noticed is he attacks the offensive glass even if he doesn’t always get his hands on the ball.
– The Hawks wanted to limit Parker on the pick-and-rolls and slow San Antonio’s transition scoring. They did well with the latter, not so much the former.
– The Hawks dropped to 2-6 against teams with winning records and 4-2 without J.J. With Chicago beating the Lakers and Miami on its way to victory at Golden State, the Hawks will fall to a tie for fifth with the Knicks in the East.
– “We had a chance to win the game,” Al said. “It just shows we still have a little ways to go as a team. I think we played good, we played hard, but they are a really good team over there.”
– “We were right there,” Marvin said. “I don’t believe in moral victories, personally, but it’s a good feeling to know you are playing at a high level against the best team in the league.”