It is really amazing how in the sports world one signature win can erase all of the thoughts of the previous weeks struggles. Despite being only a regular season game in the long seasons final few weeks make no mistake and call this victory anything less than signature. Last night’s game was the blueprint, the gold standard so to speak, of what Hawks fans everywhere want to see from this team. The defended with reckless abandon, contested everything. In this game they made the Lakers look old. They out hustled the defending champs to every needed rebound or loose ball and ultimately left the Lakers frustrated and defeated.
What more can be really said other than tonight everything was working. Al Horford was not his usual productive self early and in comes ZaZa to pick up the slack. Pachulia by the way turned in one of his best statistical games (10 points, 10 rebounds) but his value goes beyond statistics. Here is a guy that throws his body into the fray and plays with energy, which here lately can be said for all of the Hawks reserves. In fact I think Brett over at Hoopinion points it out best when he says:
Atlanta’s bench provided a good effort in both the first and second half. Their efforts made a greater impact due to their context. Unlike the last two games, the starters showed up to play from the opening tip and bracketed the second unit’s appearances with productive efforts of their own.
The bench in fact has been playing well, tonight though the Hawks starters also came to play and the result was one of the most complete performances that I have seen this season. You see just how devastating the Hawks can be offensively when there is ball movement. It really isn’t rocket science because anyone that follows basketball knows that ball movement is key to success on offense. It is amazing at how good Joe Johnson can look with only twenty shot attempts and ample ball movement. Tonight he scores 25 points and tosses in 8 assists but nothing looked forced.
With Jamal Crawford having only a so so night 14 points on 5-14 shooting, Mo Evans came to lead the charge off of the bench. Mo scored 18 points on 7-9 shooting and like Pachulia his value in this game really goes beyond his statistics. He really helped get after it defensively and mixed it up with Artest towards the end of the game. Hats off to Coach Woodson for recognizing that Evans was playing really well and stayed in throughout all of the meaningful minutes in the fourth quarter.
I had no doubts really that the Hawks would be up for this game. They have played well at home the entire season. However, I could not predict that they could come out and play as well as they did considering their so so play over the last few games. It was like they did in fact flip the proverbial switch. As a team I would like to see them keep that switch locked in the on position from here on out especially heading into Friday’s game with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
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