Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 106, Nets 101
Newark, N.J.–Larry Drew has been pretty conservative with his starters’ minutes this season. Until tonight, when he suddenly decided to ride them and go all out to beat the Nets. The absence of Marvin Williams explains some of that but I thought the bench guys had OK stints in the first half, only to never be seen again (except for Zaza Pachulia).
- “Going into halftime, I was going to come out and see what happened and go off feel,” Drew said. “Once New Jersey made that run, I made a decision to ride the starters. I didn’t want to lose momentum. I went with feel. I kind of went with my gut.”
- “I understand in this short season, every game is important for us,” Joe Johnson said. “I’m willing to do whatever L.D. wants. We talked, and he understands my mindset. He knows what I’m willing to do what I have to as a player to help this team get better.”
- “He took me out in the fourth for about 20 seconds at the start of the fourth quarter and then put me right back in, and I was like, ‘OK,’” Al Horford said. “It was an important win. It’s the fist 10 games, and [at] 7-3 we are in a good position.”
- Neither Jeff Teague nor Johnson came off the floor in the second half and Josh Smith sat for just 52 seconds. “I didn’t even notice it,” Teague said. “I was just playing.”
- The Nets are not going to be mistaken for a good defensive team, but this game showed how many offensive threats the Hawks present when they share the ball.
- The Nets had to worry about Joe’s runners, Al’s pick-and-pop (even if he didn’t square up on a couple of them), Josh’s athletic drives, and Teague’s dribble penetration. And then there was Vladmir Radmanovic waiting in the corner ready to make a 3 when the Nets reacted to all of that.
- “I was wide open,” Vlad Rad said. “Not like [just] open. I was by myself and looking to see if somebody was coming. It was amazing. I think me knocking down shots is going to help [teammates] be more open and not have the double teams coming. That’s the kind of relationship we are trying to build. We depend on each other. I’m glad they found me today. Some nights I am going to have a lot of shots, some nights probably not. As long as we are winning, I’m OK. ”
- Smith (26 points on 14 shots, six rebounds, three steals) filled up the box score again. He also took (and made) jump shots. But he also attacked the rim and earned 11 free-throw attempts. “I’m starting off aggressive, setting the tempo early and getting into the flow of the offense,” Josh said.
- “He’s taking open shots and not worrying about what people say,”Teague said. “He’s driving to the basket and being aggressive. When he’s like that, we are at our best.”
- “He’s doing a better job mixing up his shots and not just settling,” Drew said of Josh. “He’s driving, he’s taking the mid-range shots. He’s making really good decisions off the dribble.”
- Another strong game from Teague, who got to the basket and finished, was 3 for 3 on 3-pointers, and distributed the ball well. Teague also was able to use the threat of doing all of those things to shake free and score in the 5-10 foot range. If his 3-point shooting holds up over the long term, it would provide yet another scoring threat for the Hawks.
- Joe turned back the Nets with some of those familiar fadeaway Js against tight D. Each one deflated the Nets, who saw their best efforts negated by Joe’s size advantage and scoring talent. “It was nice to see Joe get in that groove late in the fourth quarter and knock down some big jump shots to stop the bleeding,” Josh said.
- Apparently the Nets didn’t pay attention to their scouting report. There were a few times when they seemed to be very concerned about Jannero Pargo shooting but not so worried about Vlad Rad.
- “I don’t understand how he’s the best shooter on the floor and he always seems to get wide open,” Joe said. “I don’t know what the defense is thinking. Leave me wide open sometimes. I don’t undestand how he gets wide open looks, especially with last game the way he shot it.”
- Again, I think part of the reason for that is because the Hawks have so many scoring options when they have good player and ball movement (and, in those cases like tonight when Joe is feeling it, even when they don’t). Better defensive teams will be able to do a better job solving that puzzle in the playoffs but, as you saw with the Bulls the other night, even elite defensive teams can have their hands full with the Hawks (especially if the Hawks also get transition scores).
- The Hawks got lax on their closeouts when the Nets came back (tired legs?), but New Jersey does have an elite point guard to set up a bunch of shooters.
- “To be perfectly honest, I expected it to be a close ball game,” Drew said. “This New Jersey team is a very scrappy team. Avery has done a magnificent job, particularly because they are depleted with injuries. They are still playing hard, still competing. They have always played us well. They have guys who can hit shots. They are physical on the glass.”
- After playing their sixth game in eight days, and with the starters putting in work tonight, the Hawks play a tough game at Indy Wednesday before playing host to Charlotte the next night.
- “We’ll take advantage of tomorrow, get a little time off, rest our legs,” Joe said.
- “We should be all right if everybody takes care of their body,” Josh said. “The bench guys are definitely going to come and help.”
- Told that he should be fine because he’s a young guy, Teague smiled: “I guess. I’m still human.”
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat