(Author’s note: I inadvertently failed to post this after the Spurs game. I do so now solely because of the links to my contemporaries recaps for fear that someone out there might have missed them.)
A great weekend of basketball was capped off by the Hawks 119-114 victory over the Spurs on Sunday night. The way the Hawks started it looked like anything but a would be victory. Surrendering 33 points and 70% shooting to a team that had just scored 147 points in a victory over Golden State was not exactly the start that I was looking for. For whatever reason the Hawks have gotten off to slow starts on national TV games at home against good opponents only to come storming back later in the game. They followed that script to perfection capped off by Marvin Williams stellar play in the second quarter. It was Williams steal and subsequent buzzer beater that sent the Hawks into halftime with a two point lead 53-51. For the night Williams finished with 26 points and 9 rebounds.
Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli played masterful for the Spurs. Ginobli so much so that it got me to wondering if he was a viable option in case Joe Johnson decided to leave during the off season. As good as Duncan was in this game, 29 points and 13 rebounds, Al Horford made play after play down the stretch. Duncan might have won the individual battle but Horford won the game. Horford got every key offensive rebound down the stretch on his way to an 18 rebound night nine of which were offensive. Joe Johnson had 20 points and a season high 13 assists for the Hawks.
It was good to see the Hawks seemingly dig deep for two games in a row and pull out victories. Those two games were played with playoff intensity and that is a good thing going forward. I wish that the team could get off to better starts as they have had to dig themselves out of big holes on more than one occasion. Last night’s game was a thing of beauty in the fact that their was ample ball movement and the victory was truly a team effort. Isolations came at the right times and many times Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford used those isolations to find teammates after the defense was forced to collapse. After the bad defensive first quarter, the Hawks made enough plays defensively down the stretch. I am still not a fan of the constant switching screens tactic that the Hawks employ. Gregg Popovich like Larry Brown was able to get a favorable match up anytime they wanted by running a simple ball screen. Many times in the fourth quarter and overtime Al Horford found himself matched up on Manu Ginobli. To his credit he made things hard for him, but I am not sure that is a match up that the Hawks will win night in and night out. Nevertheless it has worked lately and at this point it is a lot more positive to have won the last two games rather than to be riding a three game losing streak.
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