Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 111, Knicks 102
Marvin went out swinging. (AP Photo)
- The fisticuffs and flexing at the end shouldn’t overshadow the fact that the Hawks nearly blew this game with their usual twin sins of poor shot selection and sieve-like defense on the ball.
- “That was almost a similar situation like we collapsed fourth quarter against Milwaukee,” L.D. said. “Losing focus of what got us the lead. I threw the challenge down at halftime. We played well, let’s see what we are made of the third quarter because we knew that team was not going to quit. But we got into a situation of trading baskets and against a team like New York you can’t do that because they have a lot of firepower.”
- But the shaky play also shouldn’t obscure how the Hawks earned an emotionally-charged game in large part because they got plays at both ends from Smoove and an unexpected emotional lift from Al.
- “I’m proud of the way our guys responded,” Drew said. “They did not lose their composure. They got back into a rhythm. Josh Smith did a great job when we were struggling somewhat for a basket and we were able to post him and he took advantage of it, made some really nice moves down low.”
- With all that out of the way. . . Man, I’ve never seen Marvin so mad. “This is the second time,” Josh said. Can you help me out on that one, blog people?
- “I’ve never seen him snap like that,” Drew said.
- Even after Marvin connected on Shawne Williams, he was raging to get another shot at him.
- “It kind of escalated so quickly,” Al said. “I was running by and I tried to get in there without getting hit. Marvin is a great guy. Shawne really had to get under his skin for Marvin to react like that, or do something to him.”
- There’s probably no chance Marvin doesn’t get suspended for that punch since it was above the shoulder.
- “I really can’t speak to that; I will let the NBA handle that,” Smoove said. “Emotions was running high and it got chippy out there. It just happens.”
- In the end, competent play means more than alpha-male posturing but the Hawks did show some fight.
- “We are definitely a team with a chip on our shoulder,” J.J. said. “You act out of anger sometimes. It is what it is.
- Al said he didn’t really notice Knicks fans making noise for most of the game (probably because the Hawks dominated for two-plus quarters). But he heard them when he was at the line for free throws with 4:24 to play and he didn’t like it.
- “It was kind of overwhelming,” he said. “I was like, ‘Wait a minute, we are at home. Regardless of if there are a lot of Knicks fans here, our fans have to get up.’ That’s what I tried to do was hype the crowd up. They definitely gave us a lift to get us over the hump.”
- “Al got fired up,” Josh said. “That surprised me. He’s normally a calm dude. That got everyone’s adrenaline flowing, I think.”
- The Hawks are human and have egos so of course it bothers them when they don’t get support in their building. (And yeah, I know J.J. didn’t help their case with this last spring.)
- “It’s a little disheartening being at home and you’ve got so many fans cheering for the opposition,” L.D. said. “I know our guys, they want to play well, they want to give the fans a good show, they want to give them their money’s worth. But when you get the cheering for the home team on your court, it’s a little disheartening. I’ve been in this a long time, and it’s been like that. I just tell them to play through it and just be proud of that name across the chest.”
- J.J. was fantastic in the first half: 16 points, 6 of 10 shooting, five rebounds, five assists, one turnover. Neither he nor the Hawks were as efficient in the second half but he still finished with a nice line.
- “Everyone looks at his scoring but I look at his assists and rebounds because those are areas we really need help in,” L.D. said. “And he’s been defending like crazy. He guards ones, he guards twos. I’ve always stated that he’s a very underrated defender.”
- Smoove showed how much of a force he can be when he decides to work over inferior defenders inside. I didn’t have a problem with the 3-pointer he launched (and made) late in the game. The shot clock was winding down, he caught it in rhythm on a pass from J.J. and, hell, he’s second on the team in accuracy.
- Marvin (six free-throw attempts, four rebounds, 12 points on six shots) was aggressive even before he decided to try to knock out Shawne Williams.
- Big minutes for Al (45) and Joe (41) with a game at Dallas tomorrow.
- The Hawks dominated the Knicks in the first half using the formula that works best for them: Move the ball for good shots, rebound the misses and run. They also kept Stoudemire from attacking the rim and controlled New York’s shooters.
- “We got the best of them in the first half,” Joe said.
- Then Stoudemire, Felton and Shawne Williams went on the attack in the third quarter, the Hawks had a few bad possessions early in the fourth and it was a game again.
- “As a team that’s just an area where we have to grow,” L.D. said. “We’ve done a lot of good things this year as far as accomplishments. We’ve really shown an ability to play on the road. We’ve shown an ability to play against good teams. As coach you are always looking for that consistency in putting four solid quarters together and it is not always going to work out perfect. You are searching for it. But I’m proud of how our guys responded,”
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat