Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 102, Bobcats 96 (OT)
Charlotte–The Hawks needed this W any way they could get it. Playing overtime after leading by 11 in the fourth and using four starters for 40 minutes in the middle game of a back-to-back-to-back wasn’t ideal. But it’s better than losing.
- “Going into the game I really didn’t know how much energy we would play with,” Larry Drew said. “I was focused on who would run out of gas and when they would run out of gas. But the one thing I wanted to do tonight was ride the energy of the energy guys, and I thought Josh [Smith] brought that. That’s why I played him a lot tonight.”
- Smith (23 points, 13 rebounds, three steals, two blocks) backed up his pregame talk about taking out his frustrations on the Bobcats. He scored eight consecutive points to help stake the Hawks to the 72-61 lead, then recorded two key assists to help win it in overtime.
- The first was a pass to Marvin Williams on a cut that made it 100-96. Smith then had a tap pass to Joe Johnson for a jumper that finally sealed it.
- “It was a big exhale,” Smith said. “No one in this locker room wanted to go to a second overtime. We really didn’t want it to go into overtime but we made enough plays to get it done.”
- Smith’s help D was strong as usual. Only three of his 18 field-goal attempts were outside of the paint or the circle and he made two of them. Smith really does have the talent to dominate when he’s focused.
- Williams also had a key play in overtime when he tapped a rebound to Smith after Smith’s missed free throw. That was one of Williams’ four offensive rebounds and helped redeem him for the missed free throw with 17.3 seconds left.
- “When we went to overtime, I was thinking, ‘Not again,’ Williams said. “I missed a big free throw, man. I was frustrated with myself. But we learned from last night and pulled one out.”
- Atlanta’s reaction to Charlotte’s zone was to pass around the perimeter and launch jumpers. It worked because much of that passing was crisp and Marvin, Jeff Teague and Joe all made big 3s late in regulation and overtime.
- “They gave us a lot of different looks with matchups, and then they came back and played some zone,” Drew said. “They kind of got us a little stagnant but we stayed patient with our composure and stayed patient. We moved the ball extremely well. We had 29 assists [on 42 field goals], and that’s huge for us.”
- Johnson had six assists but yet another bad shooting night (6 for 17). But he was 4 for 8 with two assists in the fourth quarter and overtime. The Hawks needed him to simply make some shots and he did.
- Teague had trouble finishing at the basket again but did a good job using his penetration to pass while recording nine assists. Another opposing point guard had a big night as Teague still looked strangely passive against screens and in isolation.
- Al Horford took it to Boris Diaw and Byron Mullens. He had three and-1s against those two on the way to 15 points.
- After playing until nearly midnight Friday, the Hawks needed a lift from their bench players. Vladimir Radmanovic (finally) obliged and Jannero Pargo and Willie Green also added something.
- Vlad Rad had 11 points on seven shots and seven rebounds in 22 minutes and was a team-high plus-12 after playing significant time alongside the starters. Pargo had five points in the second quarter to help the Hawks lead at halftime and Green made consecutive baskets while Drew tried to buy more time for his starters in the fourth quarter.
- The Hawks appeared determined not to let Diaw go off on them like he did to the Knicks the other night. Probably didn’t figure on Mullens getting 17 points, though.
- Tracy McGrady (knee) said he will play tomorrow.
- If the Hawks can somehow muster the energy to beat the Bulls tomorrow, they can wash away the stench of the blown lead at Miami and the poor effort against the Heat’s makeshift crew.
- “I always say at the end of the day we are all professionals,” Smith said. “We can’t make any excuses. We knew going into the season the schedule was going to be hectic. We have one of the most challenging triple-headers in this league.”
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat