Hawks have late-game wilt but show some fight in loss

Josh Smith took exception to Carlos Boozer's forearm to jaw after Smith had a third-quarter dunk. (AP photo)

Josh Smith took exception to Carlos Boozer's forearm to jaw following Smith's dunk. (AP photo)

(Updated: 11:50 p.m.)

CHICAGO – For all but one game in this series, the Hawks have played a 62-win team like few imagined they could or would.

That counts for something. It means that even with the Hawks returning home with a 3-2 deficit in this playoff series, there is some reason to hope for what comes next.

The Hawks lost to Chicago 95-83 on Tuesday night at the United Center, bringing them to within one loss of postseason extinction. But they battled back from an early 15-point deficit and threw a significant scare into the home team, leading early in the fourth quarter before a fade.

No losses are swallowed easily. But if the Hawks played with this kind of passion, effort and cohesion all season, they wouldn’t have been a fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.

Can they win at home Thursday? Yes. Can they win a Game 7 back in Chicago? That would be difficult, but suddenly it doesn’t seem implausible.

“This is a difficult place to win a basketball game but we came out and competed so I’m pleased with that,” coach Larry Drew said. “But we just had some bad possessions in the fourth quarter. We reverted back to that isolation thing, and we can’t let that happen.”

Few expected the Hawks to be in the situation they were Tuesday night. They weren’t supposed to beat Orlando in the opening round. They weren’t suppose to be able to compete with Chicago in the second round, especially minus Kirk Hinrich, but they were even with the Bulls through four games.

Fans and media on both sides may have been stunned, but the coaches weren’t. “There are 16 teams in the playoffs, and everybody has talent,” the Bulls’ Tom Thibodeau said. “This is the playoffs, and this is what happens.”

It has happened in this round for the Hawks for one reason: Jeff Teague.

Taking nothing away from the recent wonder that is Josh Smith, but Teague was viewed as the team’s biggest weakness. In this series, he has been their biggest strength.

He is starting only because of Hinrich’s injury. Who knows how many minutes he would’ve even seen in the series if Hinrich hadn’t pulled his hamstring?

He is running the offense like no Hawks’ point guard in recent memory. He is making clutch shots, clutch passes, clutch decisions. He went 5-for-5 in an 11-point third quarter when the Hawks played their best basketball and finished with 21 points, seven assists and no turnovers.

There is Teague with a drive-and-one. There is Teague going coast to coast. There is Teague with an acrobatic baseline drive and high-archer that closes the Chicago lead to 61-58. There is Teague moments later, driving into the lane again, but this time dishing to Smith, who finishes with a monster dunk that makes it a one-point game.

“Everybody else was doubled — I was just trying to penetrate and get in the lane,” Teague said.

Drew put it another way: “He’s surely not the Jeff Teague we saw during the regular season.”

The Hawks took their first lead of the game at 64-63. They led 70-69 after another Teague layup. But then they botched consecutive possessions — a miss by Jamal Crawford and a turnover by Al Horford (he had four). Chicago capitalized with buckets by Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson. Things slid from there. Soon the lead was up to 10 points (89-79) with three minutes left, and the Hawks realized it would be desperation time back in Atlanta on Thursday night.

The play off the bench of Gibson (5 for 5) and Rose’s 11-point fourth quarter were key. But the Hawks probably win this game if Crawford (1 for 9) and Joe Johnson (6 for 15) are having better shooting nights.

But they have succeeded in getting under the Bulls’ skin. After one Smith dunk in the third quarter, Carlos Boozer gave him a forearm to the face, sparking a brief melee and a double technical.

“I dunked the basketball, I go to turn and he just cleared me with an elbow to the jaw,” Smith said. “Nobody is going to do that to me, I don’t care who you are. I’m a man first.”

The offense broke down but the team didn’t. That counts for a lot. Those bigger picture problems of passion and effort have suddenly dissipated.

“This series isn’t over,” said Smith.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

192 comments Add your comment

randy whittman

May 10th, 2011
11:01 pm

Stern lost his tops two seeds in the West. You can be DAMN sure he’s going to get a Heat / Bulls East finals.

Chuck

May 10th, 2011
11:02 pm

You think the refs will allow us to mug them back in Atlanta?

clutch

May 10th, 2011
11:02 pm

hortford and crawford are killing the hawks with there bad play

BCC0224

May 10th, 2011
11:02 pm

First? Third? Come on….

PT

May 10th, 2011
11:03 pm

John

May 10th, 2011
11:03 pm

I’m pretty proud of this bunch! They played hard and deserved better! And what was up with the no call on Rose after Teague picked his pocket??!!!!

Wild Bill

May 10th, 2011
11:03 pm

Mitchell

May 10th, 2011
11:04 pm

TEAGUE IS THE TRUTH

yodaddy

May 10th, 2011
11:05 pm

Coach Larry Drew playing Jamal Crawford instead of Zaza Pachulia in the 4th quarter.

Killed all our matchup advantages on offense
softened the defense in the middle
stagnated the offense
softened the help defense because Crawford doesn’t know how to play defense

That loss hurt the most because we actually had that game and we had them on the ropes. “We let em off the hook”….The Bulls were one Hawks basket away from panicking.

bigeasy830

May 10th, 2011
11:05 pm

Crawford killed us tonight. LD have to stop running that set with Crawford bringing the ball up. He is getting the ball stripped from him and he looks uncomfortable running the point. Teague is a beast, he should be running the show like Rondo. We got a real ball player in Teague. In another year or so he will probably the the Hawks first option on Offense even at the point. But the main man that is killing the Hawks is Marvin Williams. The kid is a bust of bust. The Number 2 overall pick is playing like a person who should not be in the League. Atlanta cut you loses and get rid of him next season and stop putting him in the games now. Marvin Williams gives us nothing. DAMNNNNN!

Dwayne C

May 10th, 2011
11:05 pm

Close but no cigar for the Atlanta Hawks. Look for the Chicago Bulls to close out Atlanta back here in game six. Also look for absolutely no changes to the Hawks roster as ownership will deem this season an improvement over last year. I still maintain that head coach Larry Drew is not a good head coach.

John

May 10th, 2011
11:06 pm

And Joe Johnson might be the most overpaid athlete in all of sports.

Atl teams = Playoff chokers

May 10th, 2011
11:07 pm

This was a great playoffs. Im happy with the results.

TruthSeeker

May 10th, 2011
11:07 pm

Agreed with John. The Bulls may win this series, but they’ll have to wipe sweat off their brows when it’s over. The Hawks are giving them all they want, and I think this is coming back to Chicago for a Game 7.

Great job by the Hawks. Their shot selection still makes me cringe, but they’re playing their guts out.

RethinkPossible

May 10th, 2011
11:09 pm

As a hawks fan for the last 5+ years, JT has finally made me proud to be a hawks fan.

RA

May 10th, 2011
11:09 pm

I have to say that the play of Atlanta tonight, particularly the play of Jeff Teague, exceeded my highest expectation. Regardless of how this series plays out, the Atlanta Hawks have a starting point guard for the next few years, and perhaps a future as well.

Sage of Bluesland

May 10th, 2011
11:10 pm

Is Al Horford the most overrated, yet undercriticized, player in Atlanta since our former Hometown Hero Keith Brooking?! (who was only good for ankle-grabs, or tankles, eight-yards downfield)

Completely overrated, folks. Color me completely unimpressed.

Some “leadership”.

Atl teams = Playoff chokers

May 10th, 2011
11:11 pm

The Hawks lost 95-83, not 93-85

Volman

May 10th, 2011
11:11 pm

This was one of the most horrid officiated games I have seen in a while. I would be embarrassed if I were a Bulls fan.

Gwinnett Fred

May 10th, 2011
11:11 pm

No complaints. Overcame a large deficit to take the lead late in the 3rd.

Smith’s 2nd foul in the 1st quarter really hurt, he was amazingly sticking to going into the paint – if he doesn’t get in foul trouble, we don’t fall behind so far and don’t run out of gas making the comeback.

We have shown we can play with these guys, just need to protect the home court and see what might happen in a Game 7!

Chuck

May 10th, 2011
11:12 pm

Because if you’re a superstar and you whine about a call, the refs will swallow their whistle the rest of the series in humble, prostrate apology, begging you for forgiveness.

BCC0224

May 10th, 2011
11:12 pm

Lost respect for Boozer when he did that cheap shot on Josh. The Bulls also had some calls their way as well – how can D-Rose tackle Teague and not be called for a foul? That was horrendous! How can the 24 clock be reset when the ball didn’t touch the rim?

This team showed heart again by coming back like they did, on the ROAD! Hopefully Joe & Jamal can rebound from a poor shooting performance and lead the Hawks to victory in Game #6 and #7!

HAWKS VS GRIZZLIES in the 2011 NBA FINALS – the Finals fans would like to see b/c neither team was supposed to survive the first round.

P.S. ANYBODY but the Heat…

JSS

May 10th, 2011
11:12 pm

John, you can call Joe out at other times; but he’s not the one killing the Hawks this series… Sorry, Al and Jamal are just eating the chrome off a shining moment…

bigeasy830

May 10th, 2011
11:15 pm

Play Wilkins over Marvin Williams at least Wilkins got heart

Duck

May 10th, 2011
11:15 pm

No way in hell David Stern and Refs are going to let their dream matchup with Rose and Lebran get drailed by these Atlanta Hawks! You can BELIEVE That!

WOW!!!

May 10th, 2011
11:16 pm

No, the Hawks don’t have a chance… the nba… professional sports for that manner are way too bias!!! The nba championship was already decided months ago!!!!!

bigeasy830

May 10th, 2011
11:16 pm

@ Duck, I got a feeling that what you are saying is so true. It’s a CONspiracy,LOL.

bigeasy830

May 10th, 2011
11:17 pm

@wow!!!, you have to know the NBA favors certain match-ups for ratings to make more money. The ideal match-up would involve the Lakers against Cetics, Kobe v/s Shaq, or Lakers v/s Heat, Kobe v/s the evil 3 head monster.

Jim

May 10th, 2011
11:18 pm

I say it again—-GET RID OF MARVIN WILLIAMS

jlewis

May 10th, 2011
11:19 pm

Please, someone answer this for me. How can the bulls double team JJ and Jamal and we cant double team derek rose?

bigeasy830

May 10th, 2011
11:19 pm

Don’t let Marvin get on the plane to come back to ATL, mail his belongings to him. The kid has no heart.

jlewis

May 10th, 2011
11:20 pm

Oh, and where are the picks and double picks to get Joe and Jamal open. I dont think LD is that bright, I see why he was a career assistant.

gcs

May 10th, 2011
11:20 pm

They lost this series after losing Game 3. It’s over.

.

bigeasy830

May 10th, 2011
11:21 pm

Rose is too quick and the Bulls have better shooters around him. If Josh Smith could actually shot a jumper or if Marvin Williams was worth the stains in his underwear then it would make it difficult to double JJ and Crawford

PMC

May 10th, 2011
11:22 pm

They played their freaking butts off tonight and I’m proud overall. Disapointed a bit in the 4th Q defense but some of which was brought on by fatigue. The Bulls were simply better on this evening at the end.

The Hawks don’t didn’t do as good a job rebounding the ball and a lot of credit goes to the Bulls defense.

But seriously, loved the fire tonight. I’m disappointed not disheartened. The Hawks CAN win this thing.

The Falcon Jedi

May 10th, 2011
11:23 pm

Hawks are done. Im surprised they lasted this far. This team sucks. You dont build a core around Joe Johnson, he is a complimentary type player at best.

jlewis

May 10th, 2011
11:23 pm

Name the shooters Chicago has, Korver rarely played tonight. Outside of Dang there are no threats, at least stop him from drive the same lane right and left. I will say this, Al has been exposed these playoffs, he is very limited, says the right things, plays no D and I see no toughness.

hawks4life

May 10th, 2011
11:24 pm

jamal crawford- tought to see him to hitting his rhythm in this playoff series…….joe johnson-overrated…..overpaid……no leadership

jlewis

May 10th, 2011
11:25 pm

I usually like Joe, but he played like a Bit– tonight, passing up open jumpers to give it to Josh in the corner, pure cowardice.

adamb

May 10th, 2011
11:25 pm

Does it not look like crawford is completly out of sync with the rest of the team. And our “superstar” can’t get a shot when the game counts. Don’t know many other superstars that can’t take over a game or at least draw fouls late in the game. Joe, jamal? Where are you?

PMC

May 10th, 2011
11:27 pm

They definitely need the Joe Johnson from game one the rest of the playoffs.

bigeasy830

May 10th, 2011
11:27 pm

Boozer has a decent Jump shoot and you already named dang, but again the main reason is his quickness the splits the doubles like a running back hitting the hole.

BCC0224

May 10th, 2011
11:29 pm

Oh, and its hard to beat any team in the NBA when its eight-against-five.
The Bulls + the refs vs. the Hawks. Thank you Daniel Stern.

Najeh Davenpoop

May 10th, 2011
11:29 pm

Nothing easy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cQjjvFAf6Q

Bring the same effort in Game 6 that you had in Game 5, and bring the same execution that you had in the 2nd and 3rd quarters for the whole game. The Hawks outplayed the Bulls for the majority of this game, but they have to put it together for 48 minutes.

Corch Myer

May 10th, 2011
11:29 pm

Sage of Bluesland Why do you have such a vendetta against Horford- the kid is a player. You on the other hand know nothing about the game.

Moorman

May 10th, 2011
11:29 pm

Where was Joe Johnson???

Najeh Davenpoop

May 10th, 2011
11:29 pm

The current Hawks “core” has officially played a half a season’s worth of playoff games together. 41 playoff games under this team’s belt now.

RMikel58

May 10th, 2011
11:30 pm

Hawks had their chances but couldnt rise above their game infact JJ and Jamal never showed up to play. It was infact Pachulia and Teague who earned their salaries tonight. Horford poor shot selection instead of breaking toward the basket or passing it off looked unsettled.
Josh Smith didnt play well but none the less was very motivated and played with heart but where was the Defense? Yep watching Rose taking the ball to the basket and getting his MVP fouls. How is it that the Hawks sputter when this game is so important?
Game 5 winners go to the NBA Finals 83% of the time. Now the Hawks have a 17% on winning. Yeah stats dont lie.
JJ dont go running your mouth when you are the very person that isnt showing up and cant handle a basketball. Better rebounding but poor shotr selection and toward the end out of desperation the Hawks didnt keep their composure and pass the ball around at all.
I dont know if its Larry Drew that isnt motivating these players enough or if their out of breath at the start of the 4th qtr.
I wouldnt mind it if Larry Drew kept JJ out of game 6, letting up and not caring is a disease that spreads very quickly.
Whether the Hawks win game 6 or not is unimportant because everyone wants the Bulls to face the Heat and Lebron instead of a bunch of up and down players that show up because they have to.
If they do win game 6 they wont win game 7 and thats a given. When someone guarantee’s a Game he is dissing the entire Hawk Team and basically saying they are a joke and/or a fluke and dont deserve being on the same court.
In the beginning i told a bunch of you on here that it would be Chicago winning in 6 games and thats because the Hawks are streaky and cant come together as a team.
Chicago’s Defense beat the Hawks and in 2 of those games the Hawks beat themselves. I think the Hawks have been fortunate to even get this far in the playoffs. Losers of 13 of their last 20 games and losing 6 in a row to end the season should tell you that their not in the same calibre as Chicago.
But even Chicago will find out that their not ready to play Miami Heat but theres always next season for Chicago. I think it will be Dallas and Miami in the end.
But certainly not the Hawks.

Corch Myer

May 10th, 2011
11:30 pm

all you crybabies need to man up- the hawks lost- the refs did not take it from them 4 for 16 in the 4th will do that to you

Duck

May 10th, 2011
11:31 pm

Jeff’s Headline correction—–Hawks lose but leave us believing David Stern wants Rose vs Labron come hell or high water.