Al and Co. made Dwight work for his. (Curtis Compton / email@example.com)
- You can put asterisks next to this W and the one at Orlando if you want. The Magic were without Jameer and just getting over the flu (a fact they were sure to remind everyone) for that Dec. 6 game. This time they sent out three rotation players who hadn’t even practiced with the team yet.
- “We caught them at the right time,” J.J. said. “They’ve got new guys who haven’t gotten acclimated. They were a little vulnerable and we took advantage.”
- With that out of the way, let’s acknowledge that the Hawks gave a good effort tonight and have seemed to figure out a plan for dealing with their arch-nemesis. “To be successful against them we’ve obviously got to be physical with Dwight,” Twin said. “We’ve got a lot of big guys on this team and we’ve got to use our fouls against him.”
- I was as skeptical as anyone when the Hawks re-signed Twin and said Woody should have played him more so he’d be ready to do battle Dwight. Got to admit that in three games he’s done a competent job bodying up to Dwight and making him shoot over him. He lacks mobility and hops but he’s smart and stout.
- “Any time you have to battle Dwight straight up, you don’t see many guys who can do that,” L.D. said. “He’s not a defensive stopper by any stretch of the imagination but he makes him work, he makes him earn it. He plays him with a physicality. That’s what we need.”
- Twin’s play against Dwight does two good things for the Hawks. One, it means they don’t have to scramble so much off of double teams and weaken their already suspect perimeter defense.
- Two, it allows Al to get some space to do work off the dribble, shake free for perimeter shots and not get worn down ( or in foul trouble) from leaning on Dwight.
- Dwight had 19 points on 14 shots but six turnovers. He started spending a lot of his time griping at the refs, always a good sign for his opponents.
- “Hats off to the bigs,” Smoove said. “Zaza came in, Etan and, number one, Jason Collins came in and played big minutes and just did whatever it took to frustrate Dwight.”
- Zaza played 11 (foul-shortened) minutes and had seven rebounds and a physical presence around the rim. Josh Powell, who usually does not provide that kind of tenacity or rebounding, got a DNC-CD.
- Fantastic line for Al: 24 points 10 for 15, 11 rebounds, four assists, no turnovers. He was equally effective with moves to the basket and the usual pick-and-pops.
- That fourth quarter was the textbook for how Marvin can help this team. The Magic used a small lineup for much of the period and Marvin collected five of their nine missed shots. He waited on the wings for the ball to swing to him and made open shots and also earned five free-throw attempts.
- Jameer predictably got by Bibby a few times but Bibby did a good job of at least making him go to where there was help. This was another game where Bibby more than offset his defensive deficiencies with his shotmaking. He got the Hawks going in the third quarter.
- It’s clear that Joe is going to play the same way whether he’s rusty or not. He forced a few shots and had five turnovers.
- Orlando’s newcomers combined for 27 points while making 6 of 23 shots. “Tonight the adjustment wasn’t so much on the offensive end but our defense,” J-Rich said. “It’s going to take a while for us to get used to each other but we’ll just have to keep working.”
- The Hawks went 5-5 in the stretch of 10 games that started in Miami and included Orlando twice, San Antonio and Boston. The Hawks were 2-3 in those games and 3-2 in the others with brutal losses at Detroit and New Jersey.
- “We need our guys to play with a sense of urgency every time we step on the floor, irregardless of who our opponent is,” L.D. said. “I think that’s been the disheartening thing, especially with our losses in New Jersey and our loss up in Detroit.”
- “We’ve been up and down,” Twin said. “I’m not worried about how we’re going to play against the Miamis and the Orlandos. For us we have to come into each game with that mentality of knowing were going to be in for a fight each game. I think there are a few games this season we definitely let slip away.”