Atlanta Hawks: Heat 89, Hawks 86
Miami–The Hawks talked pretty big after an L but I’m willing to give them a pass. The Heat sent out at least two and probably three better players than the Hawks, got their fair share of their favored run-outs, saw LeBron James score 31 points on 20 shots and had 25 free-throw attempts to Atlanta’s nine.
- The Hawks made a game of it with their depth, defense and toughness. “No moral victory,” Jerry Stackhouse said. “But I think that team is aware of us. We came down here early in the season [to win] and now we are competing with some main pieces out. I am pretty sure they are aware if we see them in the playoffs we are a formidable foe.”
- “I don’t fault our effort, not one bit,” Larry Drew said. “We played last night, we got in at 1:30 this morning and we come in and play against one of the hottest teams in the league. Our effort was there. They did a phenomenal job in fighting every possession. We had an opportunity and we kind of let it get away.”
- That last part is true, and it had nothing to do with Miami’s advantage in free-throw attempts and everything to do with the unforced errors that ignited the Heat’s third-quarter surge. The Hawks got rattled and were sloppy with the ball.
- “We had too many turnovers, mostly me,” Jeff Teague said. “I had five, a couple other guys had three. And we still was in the game. We had some chances to seal the deal. It was a great effort us being down a couple people.”
- The Hawks held down the league’s top offensive team. For long stretches in the second and fourth quarters they turned the Heat into jump shooters, rebounded the misses and controlled the pace.
- LeBron made some tough pull-up Js, which is preferable to him barreling to the basket. Dwyane Wade scored on some acrobatic moves and got a couple D-Wade calls, which will happen. Chris Bosh needed 14 shots to get his nine points and Udonis Haslem made some weak-side Js.
- “I thought we were pretty good [defensively],” Drew said. “With that team, because they are so good off the dribble with LeBron and Wade, they can put you in tough situations. The second half they started isolating LeBron more and he made some jump shots, which we were going to live with that at that point.”
- In the third quarter LeBron denied Josh Smith in the post. That took away a big element of Atlanta’s offense. “We wanted to go to that matchup with Josh and LeBron,” Drew said. “It took us out of it because they were forcing Josh out on the perimeter. We didn’t stay with that long. One thing I didn’t want to do was become stagnant in just trying to get the ball to Josh. I wanted to get some movement.”
- In the closing minutes Josh made a 3 at the shot-clock buzzer and fed Vladimir Radmanovic for a layup but missed a fadeaway along the baseline and a 3 . Marvin Williams missed a clean look from 3 and Zaza Pachulia missed a free throw.
- Drew went to Jannero Pargo to close the game after Teague rolled his ankle when he stepped on Mario Chalmers’ foot. Pargo responded with an and-1 and got off a clean 3 at the buzzer. “It was a good look,” he said. “I thought it was good.”
- “We fought our tails off,” Josh said. “We played extremely good on the defensive end. They hit some tough shots down the stretch and I think if we were a little bit more controlling of the basketball and not so many turnovers we probably could have won.”
- The Hawks lost for the first time this season when Josh scores at least 20 points. Josh needed 22 shots to get his 23 points. He probably deserved more than four free-throw attempts with the way he was scrapping around the basket. “I’ve never seen a game where a team doesn’t shoot a free throw in a half,” he said.
- Zaza Pachulia continued to make his case that he’s a starting-caliber center with another strong effort. It could have been even better with a couple more finishes at the rim. Zaza gave the Hawks the physical presence they needed in a heated game and had some scratches on his arm as proof of his tussles with LeBron: “Probably just because his nails were too long.”
- LeBron didn’t like it when Zaza grabbed him to stop a breakaway. “That’s my fault,” he said. “I didn’t know they were in the bonus. I was just trying to stop the fast break.” Of the scrap with LeBron for the loose ball, Zaza said: “We fell down it was loose ball, I dove for the ball, he dove for the ball. I don’t know what happened. The ref called something.”
- Marvin played strong D against Bosh and did what he could with LeBron. Kirk Hinrich made Wade work (like always), hit a couple shots and had four rebounds but (like most of his teammates) fumbled the ball away for a couple turnovers.
- Jerry Stackhouse had his best game of the season. But he also fell victim to the careless turnovers that plagued the Hawks.
- Ivan Johnson was active on D and on the boards but he also . . . .well, you get the idea.
The Hawks have their faults but they deserve Ps for their last three games. They’ve been good without all of their horses, so is it crazy to think they can be legit once they are whole?
- Stackhouse: “I’ve said that all along from the beginning. It’s a process. Nobody is contenders right now. They put that team out there as the world beater, and we come in here competed with them as much as anybody else and felt like we should have won the game. We felt like a few less mistakes on our part and we give ourselves a better chance. We feel we are a good team. We are not where hope we will be on April 28th but we are getting there.”
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat