Atlanta Hawks: Celtics 79, Hawks 76
- This was a typical game of late for the Hawks against good competition. You can’t fault their effort, especially because they were missing three rotation players (not counting Al Horford) and playing the second night of a back-to-back. They didn’t fold when the Celtics took a15-point lead in the fourth quarter and their arena sounded as if they were playing on the road.
- But you can find plenty not to like about Atlanta’s execution. Or, in the case of Jeff Teague’s 3-point try that missed everything by a good five feet, you can find fault with their failure to finish good opportunities. Josh Smith’s exasperation with that final play spoke volumes.
- Teague: “I overshot it. I thought I was farther than I was. It happens. I knew they were going to double team Joe [Johnson] and either me or Josh would get a shot. Seeing that there was a big guy flying at me, I just tried to get it up. That caused me to shoot it higher and longer.”
- Doc Rivers: “Teague got a wide-open shot and we got lucky on that part of it. We wanted to have them dribble it up and foul them once they got to half court. Clearly we didn’t do a good job of that.”
- Joe’s shot-making display in the fourth quarter wasn’t enough to salvage an awful offensive game for the Hawks. The Celtics remain a top defensive team and the Hawks continue to struggle to score against such opponents.
- “We have to have good movement,” Joe said. “We have got to make hard cuts. We don’t do that against the good teams that have great defense. It’s going to be tough to score. It was tonight. I look at certain possessions, sometimes we don’t make hard cuts. Against the upper-echelon teams you have to move, cut fast because when you get a little crease and a little crack you have to take advantage of it.”
- Larry Drew: “Noticeably, we didn’t hold screens. They were really fighting through them, particularly when we were trying to free shooters up like Joe. You have to set the screen and hold the screen. You can’t allow them to come through it. If they come through it, it’s a foul. Particularly in the first half we didn’t do a good job with that that’s why every time Joe caught the ball there was somebody there guarding him.”
- Joe couldn’t finish some good chances around the basket early. He caught fire from the outside in the fourth quarter but it was too late. He only got 6 shots in the period while Teague missed 4 of 5 and Josh missed all three of his attempts.
- When he came out for the postgame, Joe looked at the stat sheet and cursed out loud at his seven turnovers. He did have six rebounds and baited Paul Pierce into foul trouble.
- Josh made his first three jump shots and then didn’t make another. But it looked to me that a good number of those misses were the function of bad offense leading to a low-percentage shot rather than settling by Josh. That doesn’t include his missed 3-point try in the fourth quarter when he was going for the kill shot.
- Teague had eight points on 13 shots and three assists against two turnovers. Drew spent most of the night barking at him to go get the ball from his teammates and push it when he got it. You see Teague flush on Allen and show some fire and wonder why he can’t be like that more often.
- Don’t discount the effect that Zaza Pachulia leaving the game had on Atlanta’s offensive stagnation late in the third quarter. It’s not just that Jason Collins offers little offensively, it’s also that Zaza keeps the offense moving in the high post. He had 13 rebounds, four on offense.
- Kirk Hinrich started off strong defensively while chasing Ray Allen around the typical gauntlet of screens, but then he appeared to get lost when Allen made a pair of 3s during the decisive 17-2 run. “We had a miscommunication on one coverage, and it led to Ray making a couple baskets for them, and the next thing you know they were up 14 points. But we responded and still had a chance. It’s just a tough loss altogether.”
- Tracy McGrady was drafted to play on the second game of a back-to-back because of all the team’s injuries. He didn’t have much lift in his legs while playing 14 minutes. McGrady couldn’t set up teammates like usual, either.
- Jerry Stackhouse had a mismatch against Keyon Dooling and took advantage by twice scoring over him with baseline jumpers.
- Ivan Johnson still has too many uncertain offensive moments.
- Boston continues to creep up on the Hawks in the East while Atlanta needs to make a run to catch the Magic.
- Pierce: “We have about 20 games left so this is the stretch run. Every game can put up one spot in the standings is what it seems like these days, so every game is big.”
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat