Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 107, Clippers 98
Los Angeles–I’ll leave it to L.D. to sum this one up: “Our defense stiffened up the second half, we started making shots, Joe got into a rhythm, Jamal was Jamal and then Josh Smith made a couple 3s down the stretch.”
- It’s not a winning strategy in the big picture, or even in one-offs against teams better than the Clippers, but it worked today. Perhaps the Hawks can learn a lesson in victory.
- “It was a 12:30 game,” Josh said. “People still had to wake up. I still was in my bed a little bit until I got it going. Everybody got it going. Jamal was a big lift off the bench. He was able to keep the game close with his scoring.”
- Jamal was efficient and explosive for the second game in a row. “People don’t understand,” he said. “I saw Melo’s quote, he missed five games and he said his legs felt like bricks. It just takes time to get your timing and stuff back. You are in such a rhythm of what’s going on, if anything breaks that it just takes time to get it back.”
- J.J. had his highest-scoring game since he had 34 points against the Suns on Nov. 7. He did it mostly by physically abusing the Clippers’ smallish guards and making 14 of 17 free throws. “We wanted to take advantage of the mismatch and either make them double team, score or get fouled,” he said.
- Joe still managed to get up 20 shots, missing 13. Jamal got 13 attempts, Al eight and Bibby got six. All made at least half their attempts.
- There was some vintage Iso-Joe in the fourth quarter, when he made 3 of 6 shots. “Just as soon as that elbow heals at 100 percent, he will be back into form,” L.D. said.
- The Hawks were a mess defensively in the first half. I don’t have to tell you the problem. “In the first half we were hurt by our pick-and-roll coverages,” Drew said. “We made some adjustments with that.”
- I’m trying to remember a time when the Hawks weren’t hurt by their pick-and-roll coverages and exactly what adjustments can be made given their personnel. It’s not something that figures to get much better, particularly against faster teams like the Clippers.
- It’s repetitive to watch the Hawks get beat off the dribble, leading to open jumpers, drive-and-dishes for high-percentage shots, or putbacks because Atlanta’s bigs are constantly helping. There’s just no way for the Hawks to consistently stop good teams that way in the kind of possession-by-possession games that come in the playoffs.
- It’s also tough for the Hawks to beat good teams when they have little post presence offensively. Josh jacking up jumpers doesn’t help with that, but he made two timely 3-pointers in this game. “I was open, my teammates got me the ball,” he said. “I stepped into my shots. In the first half, I was fading away.”
- Al was limited 17 minutes in the first half because of the two-foul rule. He had a tough time finding space inside against DeAndre Jordan but two shot attempts in 20 second-half minutes isn’t enough.
- Teague played nine minutes. He put up three shots in four first-half minutes and made them all. Passing didn’t seem to be much of a thought.
- Baron Davis got past Teague a couple times. Eric Gordon also got around him to feed Blake Griffin for a layup. Teague tends to give too much ground even as he stays in front of his man, but he gives the Hawks a fighting chance since they don’t have to scramble to help him on every possession.
- Zaza gave the Hawks a lift defensively. They needed that with all of the Clippers’ long bodies and quick guards looking to score at the basket.
- Damien Wilkins was solid in four minutes. He’s usually a net positive as long as his shot attempts are near the basket.
- Griffin had a couple big dunks early. His final stat line looked good (31 points, 15 rebounds, 11 of 22 field goals) but he was quiet at winning time. “He probably has to be the most exciting player in the game right now,” Smoove said. “He’s that impressive.”
- Smoove began the game with an extra headband to hold in place a bandage for the cut he suffered Friday at Oklahoma City. He shed the second headband after halftime because it put too much pressure on his head.
“I just rolled the first one up and hoped I didn’t get hit in the head,” he said.