Atlanta Hawks: Sixers 98, Hawks 87
- No doubt the Hawks’ vulnerability in the middle was on display again (especially since the perimeter D was shaky, too). Spencer Hawes found the perfect opponent for his return from an Achilles injury, Nicola Vucevic and Thaddeus Young got theirs and Philly’s guards found lots of space in which to operate once they made it past the first level–all they had to do was account for Josh Smith from there.
- But if the Hawks had taken care of the ball and taken better shots (or made more open ones) they still would have had a chance to beat a quality opponent in spite of all of that. Instead, they got sloppy with the ball and loose with their shot selection in the second quarter and the Sixers were off and running to 37 points.
- The Hawks, meanwhile, spent a lot of time in Iso and looking to officials for help. “Against physical teams, we have a tendency to allow that to affect us,” Larry Drew said. “We have to move past that. We are a veteran team now.”
- Weird, then, that rookie Ivan Johnson was the best thing they had going during their best spurts of the game. What Ivan lacks in height and experience he makes up for in sheer tenaciousness. He’s always attacking the glass, always moving on defense, always looking to get to the basket. “I told them in my first interview that’s what I bring every game and that’s what I’m going to keep doing,” Ivan said.
- Ivan split time with Zaza Pachulia and was the more effective center of the two despite giving up a lot of height. He was, as always, not impressed with himself. “It’s not too much of a challenge,” Ivan said of playing center. “It’s just another person. I think I’m physical and strong enough to hold it down.”
- As bad as things look for the Hawks with just one true center they’d be a lot worse without Ivan (and it feels really weird to say that about an obscure 27-year old rookie). Drew replaced Zaza with Ivan to begin the second half and Ivan gave the Hawks a lift same as he did in the first.
- “When he’s in the game, you know he’s in the game,” Drew said. “He throws his body around. He’s on the offensive glass, he gets to the basket. We just have to go with energy guys when we need energy. He’s one of the high-energy guys on our team. If he keeps providing what he’s been doing he’s going to be playing more minutes.”
- Zaza usually is a high-energy guy, too, but he looked out of sorts tonight. He didn’t give much int he way of boards or drawing fouls, which is where he makes his mark. Even Vladimir Radmanovic offered more than Zaza in those areas.
- Andre Iguodola made things tough again for Joe Johnson, who kept trying to go right at him instead of letting the offense flow. Joe didn’t make many of the open shots he did manage.
- Jeff Teague snapped out his slumber in the fourth quarter, when he had 10 points on six shots and two assists against no turnovers. Josh got to the line in the fourth quarter, too, but a dude named Lavoy Allen gave him a bit of trouble.
- Marvin Williams was solid in 20 minutes (eight points on five shots, four rebounds) but stayed on the bench in the fourth quarter as Vlad Rad didn’t leave the court.
- Tracy McGrady can’t find his shot–it seems they’ve been short a lot–but still makes plays and rebounds. Kirk Hinrich couldn’t make shots, either, and looked a step slow against Philly’s quick guards.
- Don’t get it twisted: The Sixers are a good team. “Tonight was one of those games where somebody was going to lose two in a row and it wasn’t going to be us,” Louis Williams said.
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat