Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 91, Blazers 82
Teague took it to the Blazers. (AP Photo)
The Hawks were desperate for a W and it showed before the game (L.D. bucked his recent trends and started Teague and Zaza); during it (the Hawks were forced to grind for three quarters and did it); and after (a strong sense of relief in the locker room).
- “I’m just glad we got the win,” said Teague, whose pep was just what a tired and beat down team (and the stagnating offense) needed.
- “He was absolutely sensational from start to finish on both ends of the floor,” L.D. said. “Defensively he did a great job of picking the ball up and harassing the ball. His speed and his quickness is just something we don’t have. When we put him in games we rely on him to be a nuisance defensively and offensively just to stay in the attack mode.”
- Teague did both against the Blazers. With Andre Miller no threat to get around him, Teague cut off his space and made it difficult for Miller to initiate Portland’s offense. And there was no one on the floor faster than Teague, who ran circles around the Blazers while batting passes, blocking shots and sometimes running a one-man break through traffic.
- “Jeff Teague had a great game,” Wesley Matthews said. “He played the passing lane well and was really active and caused some problems for us.”
- Teague’s 6-0 run at the end of the first quarter gave the Hawks some life and snapped sleepy Philips out of its slumber.
- “Those possessions at the end of the first quarter changed things,” Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. “It gave them some energy and got them right back in the game.”
- “Coach told us to get up there and put on the pressure and try to overplay the passing lanes and make something happen,” he said. “I got my hands on a couple of the balls. I got lucky.”
- Nothing lucky about Teague’s line: 24 points, three assists, five steals, three blocked shots, one turnover, 11/17 FG. He dominated his matchup with Miller, who never could back him down into the post.
- About the only thing Teague didn’t do well was shoot free throws (1 for 4) or finish on open floaters in the lane.
- “I am hoping this will be kind of a springboard for him,” Drew said. “It’s been kind of an up-and-down season for him. He’s played some minutes, he’s started a few games, and he’s gone stretches where he hasn’t played. But during that stretch I never stopped believing in that kid because I saw the package that he brings. He can make shots, he’s got speed, he’s got quickness, he can go from end to end. Defensively he can be a nuisance.”
- Teague couldn’t be blamed if he didn’t always feel the love from Drew but he said his confidence never wavered.
- “It felt great to get an opportunity to get out here and play, something I’ve wanted to do all year,” Teague said.
- “It’s important that he keeps believing in himself because I will never lose the belief in him,” Drew said. “I’m committed to him. I know that at times he shows signs of a lack of confidence. For whatever reason, I don’t know, because I recognize the fact that this kid if he’s playing at a level I know he can he can be pretty good and tonight he showed that. I just have to keep being that little birdie on his shoulder and keep letting him know how good he can be for our team.”
- Just as important as Teague’s spark was the interior defense provided by Josh and Zaza. Aldridge never found much space around the basket.
- “We did our best with him,” Drew said. “They started making threes so we made a decision particularly in the second half to just play him heads up and I thought both Zaza and Josh Smith did a great job on him. He made some shots but they were contested.”
- Atlanta’s rebounding got a big boost from Marvin (eight total, six defensive). This was another game where he seemed to be comfortable coming off the bench and focusing on a limited role.
- Joe still can’t get on track with his shot but his four rebounds in the third quarter were important. Josh also had four and Zaza had three as Hawks rebounded all 12 of Portland’s misses in the third quarter (two were credited to the team).
- “We were missing shots like crazy,” McMillan said. “We were missing threes last night (at Charlotte) and tonight we were missing shots again. We were missing layups and we just looked drained tonight.”
- Damien Wilkins made 6 of 9 shots, had two assists and no turnovers in 26 minutes. He doesn’t often force things on offense: “Joe was in foul trouble and so was Jamal. I had to come in and be aggressive and hold the floor down until they got back.”
- Wilkins is effective defensively when given an assignment that requires more force than finesse.
- “Damien came in and gave us some really good minutes,” Drew said. “He really played a physical game. He really banged with Roy, who they like to isolate.”
- The Hawks solved Portland’s zone in the second half, no small thing for this team. Jamal was a big reason why.
- “We actually went back to our man-to-man offense against the zone which turned out to be pretty good,” Drew said. “We started moving the ball real well and then Jamal started being a little more aggressive. First half I thought he was lethargic. At halftime I called him into my office and told him: ‘I need you to be aggressive, I need you to be in attack mode. Stay off the officials and just play basketball.’”
- The Hawks had just 18 assists on 40 field goals but a lot of that was because they had 13 field goals and 27 points on the break.
- “We’re at home,” Teague said. “We’ve got to try to play an uptempo game and get some easy buckets because our shots wasn’t falling lately. Getting some easy run-outs and things like that helped.”
- The Hawks get Milwaukee next in the game that was postponed by the snowstorm.
- “Hopefully this will take a little bit of the sting out of what we’ve been going through lately,” Drew said. “It’s going to be a grind every time we step on the floor. We’ve got to be prepared to bring our ‘A’ game every single time. We’ve got to grind it out. I know some guys are banged up, mentally they are fatigued, but guess what: So are 29 other teams. So we have to just step up and respond like other teams do.”
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat