The Hawks got back on the winning track last night with a 105-99 victory over the Washington Wizards. The victory stopped a losing skid at two games and enabled the Hawks to finish off a mini road trip by salvaging a victory (1-2). They now return home with an off day today to get ready to face the Detroit Pistons tomorrow night.
The Hawks were fortunate to escape Washington with a victory. Call it lack of focus, lack of energy, or lack of willingness the Hawks got out worked throughout most of this game. Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee combined to score 50 points and grab 19 rebounds inside. The Wizards beat the Hawks up to the tune of a 42 to 29 rebounding margin 17 of those rebounds being offensive. I would venture to say on any night that Al Horford and Josh Smith combine for 10 rebounds that the Hawks would be in trouble. Joe Johnson led the team in rebounds with 7.
The Hawks seemed intent from the outset to let their offense save them. Lucky for them that Washington doesn’t provide a lot of defensive pressure. Al Horford and Joe Johnson scored 18 points apiece and Mike Bibby tossed in 16 points. Jamal Crawford came up with his most efficient game since the All Star Break scoring 29 points on 8-16 shooting. Jamal was intent on driving the basketball last night and repeatedly got to the free throw line going 9-11 there.
This game was close throughout. Late in the third quarter Coach Woodson subbed in part of the bench to protect his starters from foul trouble. A line up of Jeff Teague, Jamal Crawford, Marvin Williams, Joe Smith, and ZaZa Pachulia basically pushed the Hawks lead from 3 points to 10. Woodson did reward the group by leaving them in to start the fourth quarter before re entering the starters at about the 8 minute mark. Statistically the bench didn’t provide a lot of scoring besides for Jamal Crawford but the intensity picked up when they came in and subsequently the effort on the defensive end picked up as well.
It is no secret that the Hawks aren’t playing their best basketball at this point in the season. Last night’s win over the Wizards is big in the fact that it stopped a losing streak before it could build anymore momentum. The Hawks are now 64 games into the season and it is hard to keep that focus and energy throughout. However, they have to begin to build some momentum for the playoffs. There is no way that the Hawks can expect to reach the Eastern Conference Finals the way they are playing right now. At the moment a victory in a first round series couldn’t be guaranteed.
The good news is there is still plenty of time to get it straightened out and headed back in the right direction. I am not looking at the standings to much these days. The Hawks recent swoon combined with a long string of victories by the Orlando Magic have the Hawks 4 games back in the Southeast Division as of this writing. It is not out of the possibility for the Hawks to overtake them but some things have to change right away. The most important thing is for the team to get back to doing the things on the court that makes them successful. It has become a grind as it does in any long season and you can see it with the teams play. The good news is there is still time.
Recaps from the Hawks Blogosphere:
A Wizards Perspective: