Quick Recap for those who didn’t watch it….
In the first quarter, it seemed like the Hawks actually wanted to play. They started the game matching the Heat’s effort and energy. However, that alone didn’t translate into a good first quarter for the Hawks. The Hawks defense was at LeBron’s mercy in the 1st quarter, seemingly getting any shot and making any shot that he wanted. Can’t really do much about it. In the offensive end, Joe Johnson struggled to make shots and Josh Smith (who didn’t take one jumpshot in the 1st quarter) was a measly 1-5, missing layups, dunks, and free throws. Could it have been because of rust?* Anyway, because of LeBron scoring 12 of the Heat’s 28 points in the first quarter and the Hawks offense struggling, The Hawks trailed the Heat by 5 after one quarter.
*Josh Smith missed the last 3 games prior to this one to rest his knee.
In the 2nd quarter, it was the Miami Thrice vs. the Hawks. Wade, LeBron, and Bosh took over the 2nd quarter, hitting any shot that they took. The Hawks offense on the other hand, struggled. The Hawks were playing unselfishly and moving the ball well, but the Hawks at times had trouble with spacing, which led to turnovers, which led to points of turnovers for the Heat. But for the most part, the Hawks offense played well in the 2nd. If they execute the way the executed in the 2nd against other teams, the Hawks wouldn’t have lost so many games they weren’t supposed to lose. The Heat’s defense just really made it tough for the Hawks. Anyway, with LeBron/Bosh/Wade combining for 49 (21-30 from the field) of the Heat’s 62 points in the first half, the Heat outscored the Hawks 62 to 46. And yes, LeBron/Bosh/Wade outscored the entire Hawks team in the first half 49-46.
In the 3rd quarter, both teams didn’t look that great on offense. Miami started settling for jumpshots and they started missing. The Hawks meanwhile, just continued their bad shooting from the first half. The only player that really got it going in the 3rd quarter was Josh Smith, who scored 13 points in 6-7 shooting. The Hawks, who only scored 21 points still managed to outscore the Heat by 4 in the third quarter, cutting the Heat lead down to 12 after three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, it was the Hawks’ bench vs. the Heat. This was probably one of the most enjoyable quarters I’ve seen from the Hawks all season long. With a Teague, Crawford, Wilkins, Powell, and Pachulia lineup facing a LeBron James/Dwyane Wade lineup, one would think the Hawks will get blown out in the 4th quarter. That didn’t happen. The Hawks bench actually played well. Jeff Teague was aggressive, scoring and setting up teammates. Jamal Crawford was hitting his shots and passing the ball well. Damien Wilkins played solid defense and scored some big buckets. Josh Powell hit the boards and gave the Hawks some good shots inside and Zaza Pachulia provided physicality inside and even provoked the normally calm Zydrunas Ilgauskas to get ejected. The five man bench simply outplayed a Heat team that had LeBron, Wade, and Bosh still playing a chunk of minutes. The Hawks bench actually at one point, tied the game up. But the Heat ended the game when James Jones checked in late in the 4th quarter and converted a 4 point play and hit a 3 point shot to go on a 7-0 run by himself. The Hawks eventually lost this game, but with the Hawks bench playing ALL of the minutes in the 4th and LeBron, Bosh, Wade not getting much rest in the 4th quarter, the Hawks can be proud of their efforts.
Final Score: Heat: 98 | Hawks: 90
Not much to complain about honestly. Because Coach Drew limited his starters’ minutes while the Heat still ran their normal rotation, this game should have been a blowout, Heat advantage. But it wasn’t. The Hawks only lost by 8 even though none of the starters played one single minute in the 4th quarter.
My other Noteable Notes:
- Kirk Hinrich did not have a good game. Bibby actually outplayed him. IN BOTH ENDS. Bibby even at one point drove the ball and passed Hinrich and got an “AND1″ bucket with Kirk fouling him. Bibby looked like the better player, making jumpshots, making good passes, and getting to the paint multiple times when Hinrich was guarding him. Hinrich on the other hand was missing wide open jumpshots, making questionable passes, and had trouble guarding Bibby.
- This game doesn’t help the Hinrich supporters. The Hinrich trade is looking worst and worst, however, I’m not ready to set this one in stone yet. If Hinrich can give us a good playoff series, he can still change my mind about this trade. And please do Kirk. Please do.
- I for one think LD not putting any starters in the 4th quarter was the right move. Yeah, the Hawks would have probably had a better chance to steal the game with the starters in, but this game was a meaningless in the standings. No need to risk injuries or damage current injuries more just to send a statement to a team that probably won’t see it much of a statement. The bench played their butts off in the 4th, and they deserved all the minutes they got.
- The Hawks are now on a 5 game losing streak. Their longest losing streak since February of 2008.
- The Hawks regular season home record finishes at 24-17. The Hawks lost 10 more games at home this season than last season when they posted a 34-7 home record at home.
- The Hawks didn’t get a sellout in their last home game, but it was close enough. There was a total of 18,529 people at Philips Arena yesterday.
- Al Horford was awarded as the Fan Favorite Player after the game. Al Horford was also recognized before the game, he received the NBA Cares Community Assist Award for the month of March.
- Just this past week, when I was thinking over how the playoffs might shape up, I had the Miami Heat winning it all this season. However, after last night’s 4th quarter collapse vs. the Hawks’ bench players, I might just have to re-think this one over. I would be disturbed after last night if I was a Heat fan.
Next up: On to Charlotte for the last regular season game. This will be the last game for the Bobcats and their last home game. I don’t expect this one to be a cakewalk.
Final Thought: Is Jeff Teague just now shaping up to be a good player or has he had the skill all along? Would Jeff Teague be where he is right now if he was given the opportunity to play from the get go? All I know is….I might have to save up some money to buy myself a Jeff Teague shirt or jersey.