Mar 16, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks shooting guard Joe Johnson (2) controls the ball against the Washington Wizards during the second half at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 102-88. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE

Full Recap: Joe Johnson Leads the Hawks Back to Winning Ways

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It was weird seeing the Hawks logo in the center of the court. It has been so long since I’ve last seen that, and I’m sure a lot of the players felt the same way.

After a pretty disappointing six game road trip, the Hawks went back home to Atlanta to host a game against the Washington Wizards.

The Hawks haven’t faced any team as bad as the Wizards in a really long time, and the Hawks took advantage of it by taking care of business and winning by double digits.

However, it didn’t come easy in the beginning of the game. In the first half, the Atlanta Hawks allowed the Washington Wizards to outscore them by 4, as the Wizards scored 54 points by halftime while shooting 54% from the field.

The Hawks turned up the defensive pressure in the second half though, especially in the 3rd quarter. The Hawks only allowed 10 points in the 3rd quarter and made the Wizards shoot an embarrassing 24% from the field (5-21 shooting).

In the second half overall, the Atlanta Hawks forced the Wizards to go 17-39 from the field and commit 11 turnovers.

But anyway, Joe Johnson led the way for the Hawks through out the entire game. He arguably had his best shooting game of the season, making 6 of 8 three pointers while going 12-19 overall from the field.

The Hawks won pretty easily, and the Hawks got their first double digit win since the February 8th game against the Indiana Pacers.

Final Score: Wizards 88 | Hawks 102
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SDS Player of the Game (Joe Johnson)
Joe Johnson had arguably his best game of the season last night as he tied a season high 34 points while tying and making a season high 6 three pointers. Out of the 19 shots he took, he saw 12 of them go in the basket. Joe Johnson seemed to be bothered of Chris Singleton’s height and length, but as the game got going, and as the Hawks pushed the tempo more, Joe Johnson got easier looks. Dominique Wilkins was right last night when he said “This was an easy 3o point night for Joe Johnson”. It was. The Wizards had no one that could really guard him. Chris Singleton’s length bothered Joe in the halfcourt, but Joe made him pay whenever they ran the ball. Mo Evans & Jordan Crawford couldn’t guard Joe either, simply because….well, they’re not good defensive players. Joe Johnson finished the night with 34 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists.

Josh Smith played a great “Robin”
If Joe Johnson was “Batman” last night, Josh Smith was certainly “Robin”. He was a dang good “Robin” too. Josh Smith contributed 23 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, dished out 8 assists, and pocketed 3 steals. He also made 2 out of his 4 three point shots and made 3 out of his 4 free throw shots. Not a bad box score stat line for Josh Smith. And this shouldn’t come as a surprise to you, but once again, Josh Smith was the “center” of the big run the Hawks had in the 3rd quarter. He’s simply an impact player.

Zaza Pachulia? Zaza Kidd?! Zaza Rubio?!
Zaza had another double double last night, scoring 10 points and 10 rebounds. Not surprising. What may come to a surprise, he had a career high 7 assists! Like Zaza himself, I wasn’t aware that he was even that close to get a triple-double. It would have been nice to see him get the Jason Kidd “old man” triple-double, but nonetheless, it was still a really solid game from him.

Ivan Johnson’s Big Dunk

Josh Smith’s “Rocks The Cradle” Dunk

NBA.com Video Recap:

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Wizards & Hawks Players & Coaches Quotes/Reactions:

Josh Smith on the slow start:

Normally, when we come back from the West coast, we have a couple days to recuperate. We came in and probably were a little flat early. When we finally found our stride, we were able to play some defense.

 

Larry Drew on the defensive effort in the 2nd half:

It starts with our defense. We can’t come out thinking we’re going to outscore people. We have to come out and we have to defend and be solid. The first half, I thought we just gambled entirely too much. We just totally abandoned our principles. But the second half, I thought we did a better job in being more solid.

 

Zaza Pachulia on his 7 assists:

I had no idea about those (career-high seven) assists. He (Larry Drew) told me about the career-high after the game in the locker room. I was shocked that I had that many assists. It didn’t feel like it. But of course I like to pass, I’m willing to pass and it’s fun for me and very exciting.

 

Joe Johnson feels his knee is getting better:

I’m starting to gain the strength back in it. “I’m able to explode off it a little more and make plays. It’s definitely feeling a lot better.

 

Joe Johnson likes starting at Small Forward:

“I like playing a (small forward) when we’ve got two smaller guys out there who can really penetrate the defense and make plays and guard those little quick guys. It’s definitely an advantage for us because now you’ve got three guys out there who can create and make plays for everybody.

 

Al Horford tweets after the game:

Zaza Pachulia wants to be called “Zaza Rubio”:


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Extra Short Notes/Box Score Watching:

  • The Atlanta Hawks forced the Washington Wizards to commit  20 turnovers last night.
  • John Wall led the way in turnovers with 9.
  • Jeff Teague led the Hawks in steals with 5. He also contributed 14 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks to go along with the 5 steals.
  • Jannero Pargo contributed solidly off the bench, scoring 8 points in 3-6 shooting, making one assist, and having 0 turnovers.
  • Kirk Hinrich also had a big egg in turnovers in 41 minutes of playing time. Efficient.
  • Jordan Crawford was his usual “no conscience” self, as he took a lot of bad shots. He only scored 6 points in 2-9 shooting.
  • The Hawks record is now (25-19) and they still maintain their 6th seed spot.
  • The Hawks improved their home record and now post a  (13-6) record in Philips Arena this season.
  • They are now 3.5 games behind the Orlando Magic (3rd seed).
  • The Hawks are only 1 game behind the Indiana Pacers (5th seed).
  • With this win, and a Celtics lost last night, the Hawks are now 1.5 games ahead of the Boston Celtics (7th seed).
  • Hawks still hold a pretty big edge over Milwaukee Bucks (8th seed) and New York Knicks (9th seed) as well as they are ahead of them 5 games.
  • Hawks are now 5-4 in the month of March.

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Final Thought:

Like I said on the game preview, this was a game that the Hawks should easily win if they just take care of business.

In the first half, it didn’t look like the Hawks were up to it, but in the second half, they did focus and really showed that they are really better than the Wizards.

I know it was a win against a bottom feeding team, but give the Hawks credit for taking advantage of it. It’s just nice to see the Hawks get back to winning ways, after going 2-4 in the road trip.

The Hawks have a chance of really getting a good run in this last stretch of the season. Most of the remaining 22 games will be against teams with losing records. If they could just play the way they did in the second half in most of the games, the Hawks really have a good shot of keeping that 6th spot, maybe even moving up to the 3rd spot and beating the Orlando Magic.

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Next Game:

The Hawks will take their talents to Cleveland as they take on the Cavaliers on a Saturday “day” game.

The game will be televised 3:00 PM Eastern time.

The Cleveland Cavaliers currently hold the 10th spot in the East. They’re only 2 1/2 games behind from the 8th spot. However, they won’t get it if their losing trend keeps on continuing. The Cavs have lost 2 in a row and have lost 7 out of their last 10 games.

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Tags: Atlanta Hawks Ivan Johnson Jannero Pargo Jeff Teague Joe Johnson John Wall Josh Smith Kirk Hinrich Zaza Pachulia

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