Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 101, Pistons 96
- This is what the Hawks can look like when they give Jeff Teague the ball and let him go. Or, maybe more accurately, this is what it can look look like when give him the ball and he decides to go. “We were just trying to push the ball, get to the basket, and force the issue in the paint,” Teague said. “It worked out for us.”
- After settling for a couple jump shots early, Teague relentlessly attacked the basket the rest of the night for 24 points on 16 shots and five free throws. He had 11 assists and didn’t have a turnover until the third quarter. The Pistons didn’t have an answer for him, and it’s not like they don’t have fleet-footed guards.
- “He was a load to handle all night,” Lawrence Frank said.
- “Once he got aggressive off the dribble, it started opening up everything,” Larry Drew said. “We got our transition game going, he got to the basket. I thought he made some nice plays off the dribble. When he’s in tha attack mode like that and he’s aggressive, we’re a different ball club.”
- It helped that Teague collected five rebounds himself and could take off running himself.
- The Hawks still had to go all out to hold off the Pistons. Lots of scoring Rodney Stuckey and a little bit from everyone else after halftime kept it close. “When you get them down, they don’t quit,” Marvin Williams said. “Their defense got them back in the game.”
- Rough scoring night for Joe Johnson, who couldn’t find his 3-point shot. Still, 16 points on 16 shots with just one turnover and seven assists isn’t so bad. He also played physical D against Tayshaun Prince.
- Josh Smith made a pair of key Js in the fourth quarter. He could have done better than 22 points on 20 shots if he had converted more of his six offensive rebounds for baskets (he was weirdly below the rim on putbacks) or made more than 2 of 6 free-throw attempts. The 12 rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots helped make up for it.
- Zaza Pachulia was limited to 20 minutes because of foul trouble, so the six rebounds were pretty good. Even better was better D against Greg Monroe than in the first two meetings.
- Kirk Hinrich had four assists with no turnovers in 24 minutes but it usually doesn’t feel like he’s making much of an impact when he’s missing open Js.
- Ivan Johnson is becoming a reliable part of the rotation. He had 16 points on 12 shots and six rebounds in 29 minutes. Ivan used his athleticism to affect the Pistons around the basket and get out to shooters. “He was really aggressive around the basket defensively and his coverages were on the money,” Drew said. “That’s what we expect from Ivan. When we are not energized or getting the physicality around the basket, we throw Ivan in the game.”
- Ivan was, as usual, a man of action with few words: “Just help defense, hustle plays. That’s all it is.”
- Marvin’s aggressiveness paid off with 10 free-throw attempts and he made eight. That’s how you get 12 points on just five shots.
- The Hawks recorded 30 assists on 39 field goals. “We have a tendency to overpass but I’d rather do that than underpass,” Drew said, and ain’t that the truth.
- Drew saw enough from his bench guys in the first half, so only Ivan and Marvin played significant minutes after halftime. The Hawks have a game tomorrow but a) it’s against the Bobcats and b) they have three days off after that. So I don’t see much downside to Drew’s strategy, especially since only Teague and Josh topped 40 minutes.
- Drew: “The bench in the first half had a very poor stretch. Our energy level and defensive intensity was not very good. In the second half I wanted to make sure we did not lose our rhythm. It worked out tonight but hopefully those guys that didn’t play a lot of minutes will be ready tomorrow.”
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat