A completely subjective view of the Hawks 106-99 win over the Sacramento Kings. This was the fourth game of the Hawks six game road trip, and they are 2-2 thus far. They play their next two games against the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday and Wednesday night respectively.
For the box score: click here
For the highlights: click here
This is why trading Josh Smith this season would be an awful decision. He has become the Atlanta Hawks, the perfect embodiment of a team that for all its inconsistencies, is pretty darn good, but isn’t quite good enough. That in itself not only describes the new focal point of Atlanta’s offense in Smith, but also describes the history of this franchise.
Smith came out with guns blazing, taking and making the jumpers we all hate and working it down low as well. We owe this game to his massive third quarter where he was hitting step-back jays and taking the Kings for a ride. He’s really coming into his own, and letting this management, in what is likely its final year, trade him for non-equal value would be a catastrophe unseen in Atlanta since ‘Nique was shipped out for Danny Manning.
Anyway, onto the specifics of the game:
- Zaza Pachulia had another nice night for the Hawks, although he did most of his damage in the first half going for 10 points and 10 boards before the break. He finished the night with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
- Jeff Teague had another solid outing, notching 16 points and dishing out seven assists, including the play of the night, which we’ll get to later.
- Joe Johnson started off the game shaky, not scoring a point in the first quarter and missing everything by a wide margin. He hit his stride in the second half and finished with 21 points.
- Kirk Hinrich got the starting nod over Marvin Williams tonight, and for all the criticism I and others toss at Hinrich, he played well tonight. He had a beautiful reverse layup in the fourth quarter that helped us seal the deal, and as always, he played solid perimeter defense.
- Williams may have come off the bench, but at least he showed up. He scored 12 points and dazzled with a play of the night candidate– a hammer home on DeMarcus Cousins to truly solidify a Hawks win. He missed all of his three point attempts, but chipped in with five rebounds.
- Vlad-Rad had 10 boards!
- As for the Kings, DeMarcus Cousins wound up getting his. He showed why he was a top-5 pick out of Kentucky as he went off for 28 points and 12 rebounds. He had a few nice plays where he took it coast to coast, and even tossed the ball between Teague’s legs before finishing a layup at the other end.
- Aside from Cousins, Atlanta put the clamps down on the rest of Sacramento as no one else had more than 12 points. Leading Kings scorer Tyreke Evans was held to eight points.
Plays of the Night
3. With about 5:20 to go in the game and the Hawks clinging to their fluctuating lead, Josh Smith got the ball in the post and drew some a double team on the left block. Joe Johnson was standing in the right corner, ready to pull the trigger whenever. Smith backed his way down, forced the defense to collapse even more, and wizzed a pass to the wide-open Johnson who buried the three pointer.
2. In terms of importance to the game itself, maybe this is number one. With about 31 seconds left in the game and the Hawks up by five, Marvin Williams deflected a DeMarcus Cousins pass to Francisco Garcia, he retrieved the deflected ball, dribbled down the court and slammed it over Cousins for an and-one that fouled Cousins out of the game. The play drew some oohs and ahhs from the Kings fans, but most importantly, it cemented an Atlanta win. It was also awesome to watch Marvin Williams do something. Especially when that something was dunking on DeMarcus Cousins’ face.
1. Marvin’s dunk was nice–real nice– but let’s not forget who had the real dunk of the night in Sac-town: Jeff Teague. With about 3:30 to go in the third quarter, Joe passed out of a failed isolation attempt (yay!) to Jeff Teague at the top of the key. By the time Teague caught it, he was already moving towards the hoop, leaving John Salmons in his tracks. He skied for the jam and Donte Green rose up with him. Then Donte realized that was a bad idea and backed out of the way as Teague slammed home a monster tomahawk that gave the Hawks a three point lead.
Josh Smith. No questions asked. Smith had another monster night as he tallied up 28 points, six rebounds, and three assists. He made a variety of plays, from inside and outside, that kept the Hawks afloat in the first half and then propelled us over the top in the second. While I don’t like him shooting jumpers, he was making them tonight and canned a sweet fadeaway over Jason Thompson in the third quarter who he abused all night. He went to the post frequently and did a nice job of passing and scoring from the block. Again, he was Atlanta’s main source of offense, even with Johnson back, and he showed why he was deserving of that all-star bid. Against Indiana I wouldn’t give him the game ball because he was shooting too many jumpers, even though they were going in. This time, he’s deserving of such because there was such variety to his offensive game. It’s nights like these I pray a new GM would convince him to stay. Great game for Smoove.
Overall, a solid win for the Hawks. This was a game they needed to win and they did so. Losing to sub-.500 teams isn’t an option for us if we’re chasing that four or five seed. I applaud the team for holding their ground during Sacramento’s final run in the fourth when they trimmed the lead to four points, and I’m pleased that we were able to overcome a shaky first half and come out on top with a victory.
Lastly, to address the Smith trade rumors: If I knew Rick Sund I’d be pleading with him to sit on any deal that comes and keep Smith in Atlanta. If we’re lucky Sund will be out of here this summer and maybe a new GM could change the environment around this team and focus on building around Smith. Either way, trading him now is pointless. We’re almost locked into a playoff spot and losing him would only hurt our team, which just means we’d be setting ourselves up for embarrassment in the playoffs. Obviously if we could reel in a guy like Rondo, we’d have to consider it, but I wouldn’t give the Celtics Smith in a million years– not after what they’ve done to this franchise. Need I remind you that they stole our dynasty in the sixties, took away our championship hopes in the 80s, and squashed our incredible upset bid in 2008. Every 20 years or so, these guys lay down the law on us. Giving them Smith will leave me with an uneasy feeling, because there is no telling what coach like Doc Rivers could turn Smith into.