Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 101, Suns 99

Phoenix–I’ll let Willie Green sum it up: “First half we allowed them to dictate the tempo of the game. They pretty much got anything they wanted. They just controlled the game. The second half we threw that zone at them, threw them off rhythm a little bit, got our hands up on their shots, got some fastbreak points. We got right back in the game.”

  • The Suns shredded the Hawks through three quarters. The Hawks hung around because Willie Green, Jeff Teague and Josh Smith made 3s, Smith controlled the boards and they collected 11 steals.
  • The Hawks started to pull away to win in the fourth quarter because the zone slowed Phoenix’s screen-roll game and the Suns couldn’t make enough shots or pry away misses from Smith. “I thought the turning point was we couldn’t seem to get anything going against their zone,” Alvin Gentry said.
  • In the fourth quarter Smith scored 10 points and rebounded six of Phoenix’s eight misses. Green and Vladimir Radmanovic each made a timely 3. It also helped that Steve Nash (!) and Ronnie Price picked up some ill-timed technical fouls.
  • It wasn’t always pretty for the Hawks. They had some bumbling plays, like Vlad Rad and Kirk Hinrich fumbling away a simple handoff exchange and Josh stepping out of the bounds while setting up for a 3. Josh couldn’t quite kick his jumper habit.
  • But the Hawks won and now get two days without a game for the first time all season. “I thought it was a typo on my schedule,” Larry Drew said. “We need it in the worst way. I told the guys I don’t even want to see them tomorrow, just get away.”
  • “I don’t want to see him either,” Josh said. “I want to see the bed, the pillow, the cover.”
  • Smith deserves some sleep. He played the entire fourth quarter and alternated between scoring on Js and by attacking the basket. He was a beast on the boards, had two steals and was a menace patrolling the middle of the zone in the small lineup.
  • “I just wanted to be aggressive,” Josh said. “I knew they were keying in on Joe [Johnson] and we needed some offense somewhere else. Me and Willie definitely picked up the slack. We played like we were supposed to be playing throughout the game.”
  • Josh almost didn’t get his chance to carry the Hawks late. “I was going to pull Josh out early in fourth, but Joe said, ‘Leave him out there. He’s young.’ I’m glad he did because he just played a phenomenal game inside and out and defensively he was all over the place.”
  • Joe: “When you’ve got a guy rolling like that. . . . He can handle it. He’s only 24, 25 (actually 26). He’s got some mileage left. Ride him until the wheels fall off. We’ve got two days off. He can rest tomorrow. I definitely wasn’t going to let coach take him out of the game, whether I had to sit down or not.”
  • Josh’s final line in 45 minutes: 30 points on 23 shots, 17 rebounds, seven assists, four steals, three blocked shots, four turnovers.
  • After Josh got off on a steady diet of post-ups during a stretch of the fourth quarter, Drew put the ball in Joe’s hands. It didn’t go well. His deliberate style slowed what had been a crisp offensive rhythm. That’s not a big problem when he’s creating and making good shots but he wasn’t doing that at winning time. “Credit guys like Willie and Vlad for coming off the bench and being ready,” Joe said.
  • Most of Drew’s other moves worked out. The zone could have backfired if the Suns made shots and the Hawks couldn’t rebound but, really, it was the only hope of preventing Nash from carving them up.
  • “We was having trouble guarding those guys man-to-man,” Green said. “Steve Nash is so good with the ball, if you don’t pick him up and get your hands in his vision he is hitting guys diving down at the basket for pinpoint shots. Second half we were keeping them under control, kept them on the perimeter and making them shoot over us.”
  • I also can’t really fault Drew for closing with Green, Hinrich and Vlad Rad over Jeff Teague, Marvin Williams and Zaza Pachulia. And that’s not just with the benefit of hindsight.
  • Teague was having a good offensive game but, when the Hawks did play man on a couple possessions, Hinrich was much better than Teague with crowding Nash and fighting over screens. Marvin was rebounding but Green was making shots (and six free throws). Zaza was having a strong game but the small lineup worked with Vlad Rad as a threat to make 3s.
  • “In this kind of game you try to find the right combination of guys out there that can get you in some kind of rhythm,” Drew said. “Josh at five, Vlad at the four, it seemed to work out. We had the defense spread pretty good and we had shooters all over the place.”
  • After a rough night checking Andrew Bynum, which happens, Zaza (two blocks, two steals) again more than held his own against an opponent with more accolades and a bigger paycheck. He’s never going to be nimble enough to defend a screen-roll attack this good. But he fills a valuable role on a team where driving to the basket and earning free throws and defense at the rim are scarce commodities.
  • Tracy McGrady said it was his decision to sit: “Just resting”
  • The Hawks still had to sweat it out at the end. After Channing Frye’s putback, Josh took the ball out from under the Suns’ basket. He sailed a long pass into the backcourt, which was a good idea because Green was breaking free. However, the pass was way too long and bounced away a few feet in front of Green.
  • If Green didn’t at least touch it, it’s Phoenix ball under its basket with 2.1 seconds left. “Whatever it took, I was going to dive at it,” Green said. “I knew I just had to touch it.”
  • Josh: “He’s athletic enough to run it down. He said he was definitely going to get a hand on it. I’m glad that he did. I’m really happy that he did.”

Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat

422 comments Add your comment

Andrew Lipham

February 16th, 2012
1:17 am

Just gonna throw this out there. How would everyone feel about a Horford/Hinrich for Paul Pierce deal? Then we could flip Marvin and Zaza for an above average center afterwards.

High-sider

February 16th, 2012
1:17 am

High-sider

February 16th, 2012
1:18 am

High-sider

February 16th, 2012
1:19 am

I’ll take second and third.

Adam

February 16th, 2012
1:23 am

Joe Johnson’s MVP run continued tonight.

He owns each and every one of you.

Najeh Davenpoop

February 16th, 2012
1:24 am

“After Josh got off on a steady diet of post-ups during a stretch of the fourth quarter, Drew put the ball in Joe’s hands. It didn’t go well. His deliberate style slowed what had been a crisp offensive rhythm. That’s not a big problem when he’s creating and making good shots but he wasn’t doing that at winning time.”

This has been a recurring problem for years now. I will never understand why Woody and now LD think it’s a good idea to go into the prevent offense, aka iso-Joe, at the end of games. Draining the clock is not worth getting a terrible shot. If you run your regular offense and take 5 less seconds off the clock, so what? At least you get a decent chance at extending the lead.

“Hinrich was much better than Teague with crowding Nash and fighting over screens. ”

He fought over screens better, true, but Nash shed him on picks nearly as easily as he shed Teague. The big difference was the switch to the zone, which allowed another player to come help for long enough for Kirk to recover. Teague didn’t have that luxury when trying (and failing) to check him man to man in the first half.

Hawks still could have used Teague’s threat of dribble penetration down the stretch, especially when they went to the prevent offense in the last couple of minutes. I’m sorry but I have a hard time giving Kirk too much credit for that 2nd half run when it was primarily a result of Josh going berserk, other players hitting timely jumpers, and the zone taking the Suns out of their rhythm. Kirk didn’t do much during that run that Teague wasn’t also doing in that game.

TMACfan

February 16th, 2012
1:24 am

Why is everyone in a rush to trade Horford? If so, do it for a center.

Andrew Lipham

February 16th, 2012
1:26 am

pg jeff teague/kirk hinrich
sg joe johnson/willie green/tracy mcgrady
sg paul pierce/marvin williams/vladimir radmanovic
pf josh smith/ivan johnson
c zaza pachulia/jason collins

i smell east finals with that lineup

TMACfan

February 16th, 2012
1:27 am

Slimjr

February 16th, 2012
1:28 am

I’ll take that zone all day! That’s how they beat Miami..

Good luck with that perimeter shot from Josh..It is what is is….

But I give him credit he played like a beast tonight…Won this game with his effort!! Hands Clapping!

Rob

February 16th, 2012
1:29 am

Nice Trade Andrew, but Kirk hinrich was included in the trade lol

TMACfan

February 16th, 2012
1:29 am

If we can get D12 for a half season at the price of Horford, do it. We will win the nba championship.

Andrew Lipham

February 16th, 2012
1:29 am

Dwight is from Atlanta and his best friend is Josh Smith. I wonder why he doesnt put us on his list?

High-sider

February 16th, 2012
1:31 am

Before tonight, the last time the Hawks beat the Suns was when Jamal Crawford hit that dramatic, buzzer-beating, game-winning three pointer in Atlanta back in Jan. 2010. Hawks scorched Suns that night 102-101; Jamal scored 21 points. Memories, memories….sigh

Slimjr

February 16th, 2012
1:31 am

Yes no doubt, Kirk benefited from the zone big time!!!!!!! He did not stop Nash nor play better than Teague…

LD will find an excuse to bench Teague since Kirk came back……

Andrew Lipham

February 16th, 2012
1:31 am

@Rob, yeah my bad. How about just Horford for Pierce straight up?

TMACfan

February 16th, 2012
1:32 am

That’s why we should trade for him, so we can win an NBA championship, then he will sign an extension with us.

Slimjr

February 16th, 2012
1:33 am

D12 knows this ownership is not committed to winning championships..

Hawks= write off….

Andrew Lipham

February 16th, 2012
1:34 am

Only way we get Dwight Howard
Magic get: Horford, Joe, Zaza, picks
Hawks get: J-Rich, Turk, Dwight

vava74

February 16th, 2012
1:34 am

We are 4.5 game behind the lead with Horford out and at least 4 or 5 avoidable stinkers.

Constructive criticism is always valid, but I remember 90% of the bloggers saying that we would be in the lotto with Al out.

Enjoy what you get, because unfortunately this is what we will get until the end of the year, with zero movements to be made.

Oh, if only LD benched Marvin and used Green/Hinrich/T-Mac at the SG slot and JJ at the SF, with Marvin used as a backup SF and PF…

Slimjr

February 16th, 2012
1:34 am

D12 has a better shot with the Knicks

Andrew Lipham

February 16th, 2012
1:35 am

Why oh why didnt the pizza guy buy the Hawks?

Kontract

February 16th, 2012
1:37 am

Its rare but Slim trim and Nazr are doin a lil lovin on the Hawks!!!
How’s Grant hold Joe to 10pt and score that many? Isnt he 5 yrs older than Grant?

TMACfan

February 16th, 2012
1:37 am

Andrew, that works with me. Keep smoove at the 4 and D12 at the 5. Can you say defense?

NUNNA!!

February 16th, 2012
1:37 am

Andrew,i smell something with that lineup also..
It stank!
I agree that the only real trade value we have is with Al Horford.
Josh can be moved but other coaches who win,like a doc rivers will get jsmooves respect before he lands in boston.

We won tonite but,i still think that this team is 4 players and another head coach away from at least competing in the 2nd round and winning it!

Everyone is tradable.
But i would keep Teague,Horford,and Ivan..
Everybody else can go..Even JSmoove..
The only way i would keep JSmoove is if we brought in a winning coach that he will listen to and trust..

He nor this team listen to Drew..
Drew still has to go and don’t feel sorry for him if he goes..
He’ll end up on 790 as a college basketball analyst or something..
Or,the traffic guy..Larry “Crash” Drew

northcyde

February 16th, 2012
1:38 am

So JJ had to tell Drew to keep Josh in? Seriously?

I guess Zaza was about to come in, with Hinrich trying to make all of the plays.

Drew can’t keep making these types of decisions. JJ was awful, but he playing assistant coach for Drew was the biggest thing he did last night.

TMACfan

February 16th, 2012
1:40 am

D12 to the ATL!

High-sider

February 16th, 2012
1:40 am

Jamal Crawford scored his 12,000th point on that clutch 3 [point field goal] tonight. That’s classic! What a storied [field goal] make!

NUNNA!!

February 16th, 2012
1:41 am

I have a question for everybody..
Have any of you seen the offense that LD said he would be running with this team when he was hired,on a consistent basis this year? If at all?

Slimjr

February 16th, 2012
1:42 am

Willie Green put up JC1 “nimbers” and played some defense to boot! Wow!

Cotton Fitz..

February 16th, 2012
1:43 am

You HOMO…dont get it!! They do listen oi Drew,,,that’s why they’re doin this well!!!!

Slimjr

February 16th, 2012
1:47 am

Grant Hill is long and in fantastic shape for a 39 year old! Always been fundamentally sound both on offense and defense.. Ole’ duke player and a great college baller! If his ankle not failed him 7 times he would have been one of the greats in this generation! HOF for sure!

Kontract

February 16th, 2012
1:50 am

Uh Slimmy…hes in!

Kontract

February 16th, 2012
1:52 am

NUNNA irrelevant look at win losses!

Slimjr

February 16th, 2012
1:53 am

Remember this Suns squad is a sub.500 team.

Portland is going to be tougher to deal with…..

Slimjr

February 16th, 2012
1:56 am

He’s not going into the NBA HOF due to the injuries…But he made it back late and he’s playing good!

Slimjr

February 16th, 2012
1:58 am

These Western Conference teams sure know how effectively stop Joe…Most of em anyway….

vava74

February 16th, 2012
1:58 am

High-sider
February 16th, 2012
1:40 am

Roller-coaster at his best. Look at his numbers from the previous game. :-D

-26 in 23 minutes on the floor. :-D

Andrew Lipham

February 16th, 2012
1:59 am

Horford for Pierce?

Kontract

February 16th, 2012
1:59 am

Wonder where Joe and Josh will end up in Hawks lore…Slimjr? whatdoya think?

Slimjr

February 16th, 2012
2:00 am

FYI: Knicks have won 7 straight with LIN at the point!

Slimjr

February 16th, 2012
2:02 am

Too early to tell…They will be look upon favorably if and I mean if they can contribute to getting this franchise over the hump and into an ECF for the first time in Hawks history in Atlanta!

vava74

February 16th, 2012
2:04 am

Slimjr,

The most striking statistic of Lin’s game, for me, has been the high number of turnovers.

Woody must be plucking his eyebrows in disbelief because Dantoni does not pull the kid as he would certainly do (and as he did to his rookie PGs).

Young PG WILL HAVE TOs if played extended minutes, but they will also develop their games.

Swap coaches in NY – please mind that I don’t like Dantoni, but I need to give him props here – and Lin would be yet another young PG either CUT or at the end of the bench being pulled after every single turnover.

Slimjr

February 16th, 2012
2:04 am

Willie Green> JC1………….Defense is the difference between these two..

High-sider

February 16th, 2012
2:07 am

“Jamal Crawford scored his 12,000th point on that clutch 3 [point field goal] tonight. That’s classic! What a storied [field goal] make!” – High-sider

In addition, that made clutch three pointer [in the Blazers win against the Warriors] was his [Jamal Crawford's] 12th point of the night [game].

northcyde

February 16th, 2012
2:09 am

Vava, everybody in front of Lin had to get hurt in order for D’antoni to play him. He’d still be playing Toney Douglas.

ag

February 16th, 2012
2:10 am

Truly, KH did get to much respect for the win. Finally LD made an adjustment to stop the pick and roll that has killed the Hawks all season. KH benefited from us playing zone.

UNLEASE JEFF TEAGUE

northcyde

February 16th, 2012
2:11 am

It was his 12th shot too. He was 4 – 11 fg for 9 points before that shot.

Slimjr

February 16th, 2012
2:12 am

Agreed vava74, maybe Woody is learning something about coaching from D’antoni for a change?

This dude is fearless and always in attack mode! He’s a risk taker and as you watch him play you realize his positives far out way the negatives! He will clean that turnover rate cause he has a very high BBIQ..

Lin had 13 dimes tonight! Made the game look easy as he setup his teammates time and again, just like Nash does…..

Da Knicks hit the Lottery at the most critical position, the point guard spot! What a huge break for them!

Najeh Davenpoop

February 16th, 2012
2:12 am

“Woody must be plucking his eyebrows in disbelief because Dantoni does not pull the kid as he would certainly do (and as he did to his rookie PGs).”

Yeah, I’m sure he has this expression on his face on the sideline.