Hope you all enjoyed the game. Cleveland isn’t the true test we’re waiting for, but the Hawks won, won convincingly, won without Joe Johnson and won with strong individual performances, so that’s about all you can ask for tonight.
- Marvin Williams had one of the best games of his career – 31 points on just 14 shots, 10-for-11 from the free-throw line, seven rebounds. He had 13 in the fourth quarter. Larry Drew got him a lot of touches. He posted up a good bit and got his shots from the corner. Drew said prior to the game that he thought he was responding to coming off the bench because he got more touches that way and wanted to keep the rhythm going.
“I got going early and [Drew] kept coming to me, my teammates kept coming to me,” Williams said. “I had a big night, our team had a big night.”
He had two fairly significant baskets in the fourth – the Cavs were trying to rally and Williams hit a pair of 3-pointers from the corner in about a minute’s span that helped them maintain the lead. Perhaps not memorable in the aftermath, but noteworthy I thought how things got messy Saturday night against New Jersey.
Drew saw a similarity with the game against Philadelphia.
“We were in an identical situation, but this time we finished it off,” he said.
- Drew used eight players until less than two minutes remained, the five starters and Jeff Teague, Zaza Pachulia and Jamal Crawford. Drew said he “wanted to maintain the rhythm with the short rotation.” He also said he wanted Josh Smith or Al Horford on the floor at all times. They played a combined 79 minutes and will undoubtedly enjoy the day off they’re getting Monday before returning to practice Tuesday to prep for Orlando.
- Cleveland missed its first eight shots, fell behind 8-0 and it never felt like to me that they were going to be competitive. Coach Byron Scott said the team didn’t start with energy and intensity. They played in spurts, and they got 11 offensive rebounds, but it seemed pretty clear that they just don’t have the horses.
- The Hawks pushed the pace a good bit, more than the 12 fast-break points would indicate. “They got a lot of fast-break and easy points in transition and that kind of was the ballgame for us,” Cavaliers forward J.J. Hickson said.
- A strong all-around game for Smith. The shot selection wasn’t very selective, but you can’t argue with 18 rebounds (season high), eight assists and 13 points. He passed well out of the double team and ran the floor well, I thought. Williams at the 2 and Smith at the 3 poses some unusual matchup challenges.
- No real update on Johnson. Drew said he didn’t know when he’d be back. Sprains, obviously, can vary. Kirk Hinrich sprained his right thumb against Philadelphia and kept playing while Johnson’s knocked him out of the game.
“He’s a fast healer,” Williams said. “I don’t know what he does. I’ve got to figure out the trick. He’ll be back soon, I’m confident of that.”
- From the stats: Hawks shot 50.0 percent from the floor. Of their 74 shots, 30 were taken in the paint, compared to 45 out of 87 shots for Cleveland. Hawks had two offensive rebounds and four second-chance points, compared to 11 and 14 for Cleveland. Hawks had 29 assists on 37 baskets, their highest assist total in the past seven games.
- I spoke at length with Crawford before the game, some of which will find its way into a story for Tuesday’s paper about his season. He said some interesting things. He said he’s at times played passively this season, which I think has something to do with being a point guard in this offense. Whereas last season he was the guy coming off the bench to light it up, now he’s sometimes that guy, sometimes a facilitator and that, I think, has had an effect on his play. One thing you’ll find interesting. He reads the blog all the time and knows he’s getting killed.
“I can’t wait till your blog people read this,” he said.
- Some of you noted the crowd in the game thread. It was announced at 20,226, but there were a lot of empty seats. It was kind of dead, although the fact that Cleveland was never really into the game had something to do with it. But, as you noted, give the fans credit for sticking around. They deserve better than what they’re getting.
- You’ll be pleased to know that your coach doesn’t think all problems are solved.
“When teams get us down, we haven’t responded well,” he said. “That, to me, will be the ultimate test for us, when we withstand a run by teams of those caliber (like Orlando) and are able to push our way through it.”
- The last word from Horford: “I think we still have a ways (to go). At least we’re going in the right direction and it’s good to get a couple wins under our belt. We’ve been struggling but we just need to keep building off of this.”