A good enough effort, with a strong game from Josh Smith, did the job against Washington.
A couple numbers jump out – first, the Hawks were 26 for 35 from the free-throw line, while the Wizards were 8 for 18. I think Washington got a little jobbed with foul calls, but, regardless, 35 free throws says something about a team’s aggressiveness in going to the basket, something we haven’t seen a ton of on a consistent basis lately.
Hawks free throws for the last 10 games – 12, 20, 14, 11, 23, 23, 23, 22, 9, 13. Notably, the Hawks took (and made) 13 free throws in the fourth, when in recent games they’ve resorted to jump shots. I’m going to guess that’s a season high for the fourth quarter.
“Going down the stretch, we talked about it being a possession game, meaning on every possession we’ve got to come away with the shot that we want,” Larry Drew said.
- Terrific game from Smith. He played well in the post, taking Andray Blatche’s lunch money, and I thought was pretty good distributing the ball, better than his two assists would indicate.
“Smoove picked up the slack, had an unbelievable game,” Joe Johnson said.
Said Drew, “I thought he did a magnificent job in his post-ups. He made some passes out of the post and got to the basket a couple times for some three-point plays. I just thought he played a well-rounded game.”
Another quote from Johnson about the Smith-Blatche matchup: “When you’ve got something that’s working, you’ve got to milk it. That hasn’t always been the case for us this year. I just kept telling Mike (Bibby) and Jamal (Crawford), ‘Just keep going to him because he’s in a rhythm.”
- Drew made comments about Smith’s shot selection that were interesting. “The third quarter, we got into a situation where we were taking some ill-advised shots, and him in particular, and he knows that I’m going to stay on him about his shot selection. I do feel very comfortable with Josh Smith taking the jump shot, it’s when he takes it that I have a problem with, but he and I, we’re going to battle that all year long, but we’re on the same page. We’re on the same page with it.”
Smith did have one particularly egregious shot, I thought, about halfway through the third quarter, a fadeaway near the lane that, if memory serves, went off the backboard. Zaza Pachulia rebounded it and got fouled, which minimized the error. He then hit a jump shot, missed another, then airballed one from the corner. After that, he took Blatche to the basket, had a vicious dunk, and then Crawford went on his personal 6-0 run at the end of the third.
That said, I thought Smith’s shot selection was by and large was acceptable. For what it’s worth, Drew’s tone when he said that was even and not challenging.
- Strong minutes from Damien Wilkins. Six big points in the fourth quarter and good defense.
Smith: “Every time he gets the opportunity to play, he does something good on the court. He definitely came in in the fourth quarter and gave us some big points and was pretty much able to hold (Nick) Young down on his own.”
- Pachulia held his own, drawing some fouls and scoring seven points with four rebounds. He’s 2-0 this season as a starter. He helped the Hawks get the early lead, which they held for nearly the whole game.
- Not the most important aspect of the game, but Bibby shot better – 2-for-3 from 3-point range – and did alright against John Wall. Notably, he drew two or maybe three fouls on him, which helped limit Wall to 32 minutes. (Kirk Hinrich’s effectiveness probably had something to do with that, too. When did he start wearing those glasses?)
- Hawks have won three in a row with a chance to make it six with Philadelphia, Charlotte and Detroit up next followed by a bit of a rough patch. Ten of the next 12 after that have winning records, including two with the Lakers, Knicks and Bulls, as well as Oklahoma City.
- They’re also now 12-4 on the second game of back-to-backs, which is ridiculous, and 16-11 on the road. I’ll have to dig in the media guide to find out the last time they finished above .500 on the road for the season.
- That’s all.
Ken Sugiura, Hawks writer