Pretty crazy game. Well, a pretty crazy second half, at least. The first half was some of the play that you’ve probably come to grow tiresome of – settling for jump shots, allowing the opponent to drive to the rim. I think the count after the first half was six dunks by the Clippers, one by the Hawks.
You guys touched on a number of things I was planning to mention, so I’ll keep it relatively brief.
- Valiant effort by Al Horford, particularly at the end. He hit the court pretty hard after the foul by Griffin. (There was a lot of talk afterwards about “Was it a flagrant or not?” Someone posted something that I agree with; there were .6 seconds left. The game was essentially over whether the Clippers got the ball or not. That said, I don’t think I would have called it flagrant. A hard foul, but not flagrant.)
- Horford had seven offensive rebounds, which are generally about effort. He got the offensive rebound after a miss by Josh Smith that led to Marvin Williams‘ 3-pointer late in the game.
- Smith, I thought, did a solid job defending Blake Griffin, with some help. The Hawks dropped a double team him on him in the post and used Jason Collins and Horford on him at various times. But Smith had him for most of the second half and his work on him in the third helped spur the extended run.
- At the beginning of the game, it seemed like Smith was intent on shooting it, perhaps trying to vent some All-Star snub frustration, but settled down offensively. He said afterward that he realized his shot wasn’t there and tried to do other things to help the team. He was 2-for-4 in the fourth quarter and had five assists in the game. He had an important tip-in to give the Hawks a brief lead at 99-98 off of Jamal Crawford’s miss.
- Smith has his moments, certainly, when he doesn’t exercise the greatest discretion in taking shots, but he shows often that he knows the game better than some might think. When Horford was lying on the ground, Smith rushed back to the bench to tell teammates and coaches that if Horford couldn’t shoot, the Clippers could choose one player off the bench to take the free throws and that they were going to pick Collins.
Now, rules knowledge isn’t necessarily basketball IQ, but I wonder how many NBA players know that rule, and I also give credit to Smith for alerting the bench, because I don’t think any players on the bench were thinking about this.
I’m also wondering if Smith figured that they’d pick Collins, who is by far the poorest free-throw shooter on the team (60.7 percent), or if he’d overheard it. If it was the former, that’s actually kind of funny, because he sounded certain about it.
- Joe Johnson made a lot of hustle plays to keep possessions alive, was active on defense and did a nice job leading the break. You do wish he could have gotten a better shot at the basket on the possession that led to the jump ball.
He did his best work in the first half, when his teammates were playing rather drowsily. His line at halftime – 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting, seven rebounds, five assists. After the half, four points, 2-for-10, two rebounds, four assists.
- As was noted in the posts, it’s a memorable, energizing win. Give them credit for rallying late in the fourth, but the Hawks were outscored 33-22 in the fourth quarter. Defensive pressure lessened, careless possessions increased. They’ve been outscored in the fourth six of the last eight games. Three of those were by double digits.
- Crawford may be back. He was ridiculous in the third, making all six of his shots, many with high degree of difficulty and all three of his 3-pointers. He scored 16 points in five minutes. Smith was touting him as the repeat sixth man of the year in the locker room. Prior to Friday, he was 37-for-106 and 12-for-46 from 3-point range in his last nine games.
- The crowd was as loud as I’ve heard in the games I’ve covered this season. Philips is a different place when it’s full, or nearly full.
- On to Washington, which has lost (jinx alert) 11 in a row to the Hawks.