The Bobcats used a 34-14 first quarter to completely dismantle the Hawks on their way to a 109-100 victory. The Hawks trailed by 23 points at the half and to their credit did respond by outscoring the Bobcats 64-50 in the second half but the first half deficit proved to be too much to make up.
The Hawks played the game without their regular back court. Joe Johnson sat out with a sprained thumb and Mike Bibby missed the game after having an ingrown toe nail removed. Jeff Teague made his second start of the season for Bibby and Mo Evans filled in for Johnson.
The Bobcats took this game very seriously as they were still smarting from letting the previous match up slip away which was won by a Joe Johnson buzzer beater. Larry Brown commented in his pre game comments that the loss in Atlanta was a hard one to get over. So the Bobcats came out and attacked the Hawks relentlessly. I am not sure if it was because of the injuries or what but the Hawks lacked focus the entire first quarter and the damage was done.
With an already short bench and Marvin Williams picking up two quick fouls, Coach Woodson rather than inserting Jamal Crawford at the 8 minute mark in the first quarter called for Mario West. West played twelve uninspiring minutes during the first half in which the Bobcats happened to blow the game wide open. My intent is not to hate on West as a person as his story is a great one about perseverance. However, it is time for Coach Woodson and the Hawks to quit pretending he is someone that he is not. He is not a great defender, he is undersized, and he brings absolutely no offensive game to the floor with him.
With him on the floor the Bobcats clamped down defensively and were effectively able to deny the ball to Josh Smith and Al Horford in the post which led to a multitude of bad possessions for the Hawks. If Mario is going to be effective at all it is going to be in short bursts but is going to be more so in practice and not in the actual game situations.
A team like Charlotte makes you work for everything and tonight the Hawks had to scrap to get all the points they got. Mo Evans ended up leading the team in scoring with 20 points. Al Horford had 16 points and 12 rebounds and had to work hard to get everything he got. Josh Smith tossed in 18 points but only had 5 rebounds on the night.
Bobcats have a lot of long athletic bigs at their disposal. I would have loved to have seen Theo Ratliff back with the Hawks as a back up big to fill out the roster. He is starting for the Bobcats and when paired with Tyson Chandler does a more than serviceable job defensively. He would have been a nice addition to this Hawks team heading down the stretch and into the playoffs. The Bobcats traded a future second round pick to the Spurs to secure his services for the remainder of the season.
As stinging as the loss was last night it didn’t hurt the Hawks in the standings as Boston also lost and the Hawks remain in third place in the Eastern Conference one game ahead of Boston. The Hawks head to Detroit tonight without Joe Johnson and may be without Mike Bibby. Also ZaZa Pachulia left last night’s game with an apparent hip injury. No word on his status for tonight as of yet.
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