Raps couldn't stop Jamal. (AP Photo)
- If you are going to play no defense and get into an freewheeling shootout like the Hawks did in the first half, it’s good to have Jamal on your side. I thought he was going to provide the answer to Jason Walker’s poll at Peachtree Hoops after just one day.
- “I was a little concerned going into this game after what we’ve gone through in the last couple days in Atlanta with the snow and the ice of not being able to get the players on the floor and get some time in and get some shots up,” L.D. told reporters. “I was a little concerned that we would be a little rusty. Jamal, he came in that first half and really did a great job of getting us going and keeping us in it. Our defense I thought was really as low-energy as it’s been all year. But we were able to stay in it offensively because he made some shots.”
- If you need a big shot, Jamal and Bibby are good choices. If you need to get stops in a possession-by-possession game like this one became in the second half, neither guard is ideal. That’s why you saw L.D. make offense-defense substitutions with those two and Wilkins and Mo.
- Amir Johnson had gotten an and-1 on a pick-and-roll with Calderon vs. Bibby and Al for a 101-99 lead. But Johnson fouled things up when the Raps tried the same play again and he seemed less concerned with rolling to the basket and (for some reason) more worried about taking out Jamal.
- He inexplicably committed an obvious moving screen against Jamal (who sold it well to officials) with 10.5 seconds to go. That left the door open for the Hawks, and Bibby busted through it. He curled around a double screen from Al and Josh to make a 3. I think it was the same play the Hawks used for a key bucket late in their W at Orlando.
- Calderon thought he had a mismatch when Al switched off on him but really he would have been better off trying to swing the ball around and isolate one of Atlanta’s guards. Al played excellent D to get a piece of Calderon’s shot without fouling, then pulled back as the ball went off Calderon’s shoulder and out of bounds.
- Officials originally awarded the ball to the Hawks Raps but overturned it after looking at the replay. “I was not sure [of the call]; that’s why I called my guys in,” L.D. said. “My players were indicating the ball went off them. I was actually preparing myself to defend on that end because I didn’t see what happened.”
- After Joe made two free throws, the Hawks survived a pretty good 3-point look for Bargnani. The Hawks didn’t handle the Raps like the better teams have lately but they got out of Toronto with their fifth straight W and ninth in their last 11.
- They can thank Jamal for that. He was most of Atlanta’s offense in the first half. When he stopped scoring in the third, the Raps came back. In the fourth Jamal made a 30-foot 3-pointer, found Al for a key fastbreak layup and craftily drew a foul from DeRozan on a 3-point attempt and made all three free throws to give the Hawks a99-98 lead.
- Jamal had 36 points on 23 shots with no turnovers. “He’s every coach’s dream when you talk about a guy who can come off the bench and get you going,” L.D. said. “He knows what I expect from him. When the team is not going well and we need productivity off the bench, he comes in there and I run plays for him to get us going and tonight he kept us around that first half and then we found a way at the end.”
- About Jamal’s only real mishap late in the game was picking up a rare technical foul. He thought Barbosa hooked him on an and-1, and he had a point, but that’s a bad spot for a tech.
- J.J. (26 points on 20 shots) was nearly as efficient as Jamal. He had five turnovers and missed some spot-ups but he’s got his floater working and really is showing a knack for finding space in the offense. He also suckered DeRozan into fouling him on a 3.
- Josh was nonexistent offensively for much of the game while floating around the perimeter but then took Johnson to the post for a key basket in the fourth. He missed a 3-pointer with the Hawks down 93-91 but it was off good ball movement, in rhythm, he was open and he’s still the second-most accurate from there so hard to fault him too much.
- Bargnani did a good job of challenging Al’s face-ups. His defense (and the two-foul rule) took Al out of his game as he too often held the ball while trying to size Bargnani up. Al and Zaza struggled to stay with Bargnani on defense but both guys rebounded.
- Al and Smoove both tweaked their ankles but returned to the game.
- Mo lately is making more of his spot-up jumpers. He’ll get opportunities so if he keeps that up it adds yet another offensive threat for the Hawks.
- Wilkins has a knack for getting to the free-throw line, especially for a guy who isn’t much of a threat to score. He always goes hard to the basket.
- Teague got some early run and was minus-7 in seven minutes. Sometimes he beats the first line of defense and then backs it out instead of trying to get to the rim for his floater or setting up a drive-and-kick.