Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 101, Pacers 96
Indianapolis–This was a good W for the Hawks under the circumstances. You might even say it’s a great W if you ignore those shaky offensive possessions late in the game. “I thought, going down the stretch, defensively we did a really good job,” Larry Drew said. “Offensively, the execution wasn’t there.”
- The scrambled possessions included a shot-clock violation and a couple missed 3s by Josh Smith. The Hawks got it done, tough. They withstood Indiana’s physical battering and answered each big shot with one of their own while holding the lead over the final 15 minutes.
- “On the road, we have to withstand runs whether we are up or down,” Drew said. “We knew they would make a run. I’m just proud when they did make a run, we weathered the storm. We didn’t panic. We kept our composure. We stayed the course.”
- That’s four Ws in five games for the Hawks, and three of those were bona fide quality victories. And considering their injuries and the 14-point deficit they faced against the Bucks, you can make a case to put that W in the good column, too.
- “We are coming together and figuring out a way to win ballgames,” Josh said. “We are being tough on the defensive end. If we share the basketball like we have these last two games, moving the ball from side to side, finding the open man, we are a hell of a team.”
- Smith was superb while making 6 of 6 shots in the opening 10 minutes and all five field-goal attempts in the third quarter. The early scoring barrage included an assortment of spin moves and fast-break dunks with a fadeaway J and a 3 thrown in. He sent the Hawks on their way. “Josh got us going early and the team took over from there,” Jeff Teague said. “It was a team effort.”
- Josh’s third-quarter spurt was all Js. It looked to me like he started settling when he fatigued. “I was a little winded out there,” he said. “It’s great when your teammates can lift you up. They definitely helped out in that third and fourth quarter.”
- The bench extended the lead in the second quarter, with every guy who played contributing something positive.
- Ivan Johnson was back to looking to get the ball near the basket instead of catching it in the high post, where he tends to freeze up. Vladimir Radmanovic scored on a couple of his show-and-go drives and did what he could to offer defensive resistance. Erick Dampier did a good job keeping Roy Hibbert away from the basket, looked better on the boards and even had a nifty assist.
- In the fourth quarter, Zaza Pachulia and Jannero Pargo hurt the Pacers with their two-man game.
- Zaza got deep position and converted tough shots for a couple and-1s. He did his usual good work on the boards while outplaying All-Star Hibbert for the second time in three meetings. Zaza really has been playing well as the starter, even if it seems like not many have noticed.
- Pargo, playing alongside Teague for much of the fourth quarter, made three 3s. “He’s been like that for us,” Drew said. “When he gets on a roll, the basket looks big. Tracy [McGrady] was doing a good job of finding him, particularly off some actions that we we were running. We swung the ball very nicely.”
- McGrady continues to prove his worth as a playmaker. His probing, patient style was a nice complement to Pargo’s helter-skelter pace. If McGrady can find his shot and draw fouls at his usual rate, he’ll be a potent piece for the Hawks in the postseason.
- Darren Collison made Teague work hard all night. Teague still had nine assists against there turnovers.
- Marvin Williams ended up with a decent line but inexplicably fouled Danny Granger on a drive in the final moments. Marvin cut Granger off but then turned his back while sliding under him instead of either challenging the shot or getting out of the way. He found some redemption when he forced Granger to miss a 3, corralled the loose rebound and then made two free throws.
- Jerry Stackhouse couldn’t make shots but stepped up to make the two big free throws to calm things down.
- Joe Johnson (knee) got in a pregame workout: “It felt good. No soreness. But I still don’t know when I’m going to play on this trip.”
- Willie Green (back) said he won’t play in Miami: “We are shooting for Detroit. It feels good but I want to get a couple workouts in before I play.”
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat