Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 105, Nets 98
- The Hawks didn’t play very well. The Nets made a lot of shots. Jeff Teague kept the Hawks above water and then they made more good plays than bad to get the W and improve to 3-0.
- That about sums it up. “It was hard, but a win is a win,” Zaza Pachulia said. “It fees good. We expected them to come out and be aggressive but obviously we didn’t have as much energy as last game.”
- The Hawks struggled to beat the Nets after waylaying them in New Jersey.
- “One of the toughest things to do, and I’ve been associated it for a while as a coach and a player, when you have a game like you had against them the first time you have a tendency to let your guard down,” Larry Drew said. “That’s kind of a human characteristic. I talked to the guys and told them the team we saw in New Jersey was going to be a totally different team tonight. We didn’t respond as well as I was hoping but I give my guys credit, too, because they hung in there and kept fighting.”
- Teague (22 points, 9/11 FG, six assists, two steals, two turnovers) provided most of Atlanta’s zip. He’s still not looking to pass on those drives but as long as he finishes like he did tonight it’s not a problem.
“I think when I’m playing aggressive, I’m at my best,” Teague said. “Sometimes I miss guys on a couple passes and they talk to me but I think that’s just the way I have to play. When I am sitting out there being casual I think that’s when I’m not ay my best and I think that hurts the team. ‘Quick’ [Nick Van Exel] always tells me in my ear to be aggressive, so that’s what I do.”
- Teague also handled Deron Williams about as well as can be expected when Williams has it going like that.
- Teague’s drives to the basket and Zaza’s pick-and-pop Js and free throws were the only reliable offensive options for long stretches. Zaza (11 points on six shots, eight rebounds in 23 minutes) probably has been the most consistent bench player so far for the Hawks.
- The Hawks earned 38 free-throw attempts. They only made 27 but 14 of those were in the fourth quarter. Kudos to Joe Johnson for earning four attempts in the final period (not including the technical free throw and two after New Jersey fouled intentionally). His shot wasn’t falling so he started going to the basket, including that nifty move around MarShon Brooks for the basket that essentially sealed it.
- Speaking of Brooks, he looks really smooth for a brand new rookie. Johnson was all over him when he turned a broken play into a turnaround J late in the game. “He looks like he’s been in the league for quite some time,” Josh Smith said. “I guess that’s the Atlanta in him. That’s how we do. He knew he was at home and he definitely wanted to give his folks a good showing and he did it.”
- Josh didn’t get a call (he wasn’t fouled) while trying to take on three Nets defenders early in the game and then seemed to go in a funk. He later earned a technical foul for shoving Kris Humphries out of bounds on a loose ball.
- Still, Josh again combined with Al Horford to make it tough for New Jersey to score at the basket. The Hawks have the potential to be a significantly improved defense with those two now playing behind guards that are solid defensively as a group (and that’s before Kirk Hinrich, a good defender at the 2, returns).
- The Nets were hastily assembled before their opener. They looked much more cohesiveness this time. Al said they had a better plan: “We guarded them very well [in the first meeting]. They’ve seen so much stuff we have shown as far as doubling Deron. Tonight they stayed away from that and spaced the floor a little more, which made it harder for us to do what we wanted.”
- Brooks, Anthony Morrow, Sundiata Gaines and even Shelden Williams were making shots. “They shot the mess out of the ball, bottom line,” Josh said.
- New Jersey scored just 10 of its 35 third-quarter points in the paint but the Hawks were scrambling and slow to react to shooters. “We did not make a defensive stand whatsoever in the third quarter,” Drew said. “I thought we were back to old habits, looking for officials for help and not taking the onus on ourselves to be a gutty team, a blue-collar team.”
- T-Mac (6 points, two rebounds in 23 minutes) wasn’t as active offensively but he was part of the bench group that held the lead in the first half. Vladmir Radmanovic had a few weird plays that got me to thinking about how Phil Jackson used to say he’s a bit flaky.
- Jannero Pargo still can’t find his shot and had a quicker trigger tonight, though he was in good position most times on D. Willie Green also was quick to shoot at times.
- Marvin Williams was solid but it seemed he was getting subbed game each time it looked like he was heating up. Drew sat Williams for most of the fourth quarter before sending him in with 2:52 to go. Williams helped force Deron Williams to miss on a reverse layup and collected the rebound, then pressured Brooks before the rookie called the timeout the Nets didn’t have.
- The Hawks got out of town with the W and now face tough tests at Houston, Miami and Chicago. “I think it’s a good measuring stick for us,” Josh said. “Even though the schedule is not the way want it to be, playing those teams back-to-back and then come home and play Miami. I think it’s good for this team to see how we play when we hit adversity.”
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat