Mar 19, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks center Zaza Pachulia (27) is attended to after being injured against the Boston Celtics during the second half at Philips Arena. Boston won 79-76. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE

Full Recap: Atlanta Hawks Fall Short on Come Back Attempt vs Celtics

As you see from the picture above, this game was a physical one. A physical, ugly, intense, ugly, hard-fought, and ugly game.

It was a battle against two defensive teams, yes, but saying it was a defensive match the entire game would be giving both teams too much credit. Both teams missed shots. Neither team executed their offense very well, and even when they did, a lot of their shots still didn’t go in.

From the Hawks’ standpoint, their offense just looked horrible in the halfcourt. They either settled for jump shots, turned the ball over, or got a bad look at the end of the shot clock. On the SportSouth broadcast, Jerome Jurenovich reported that Larry Drew saw that in the first half and said that the Hawks will look to run in transition more. The Hawks only had 2 fastbreak points in the first half, and they finished with 8. That plan certainly wasn’t executed very well.

All the blame can’t be put on Larry Drew’s head though, the players didn’t show up either. Everyone could have contributed more, even Joe Johnson (who was a big part of the late comeback that failed…).

The Celtics only converted 39.2% of their shots and the Hawks only converted 38.7% of their shots. That was basically the difference. Hawks lose in front of a pro-Celtics crowd in Philips Arena.

Final Score: Celtics 79 | Hawks 76

SDS Player of the Game (Ray Allen)
Ray Allen had a really efficient game, scoring 19 points in only 9 shots. Not to mention, made huge buckets whenever the Celtics needed him to. Seriously, Jeff Teague, don’t make him mad again.

Joe Johnson and the great comeback that was not finished…
Take Joe Johnson’s 7 turnovers away, the Hawks would have won this game with ease, sure. But you got to give a thumbs up to Joe Johnson for tonight though. He was careless and he did cave in to the defensive pressure Pietrus and the entire Celtics defense showed him, but give Joe Johnson credit for turning a what would have been the ugliest loss of the season (yes, even worst than the Heat game) to just another regular, old, and ugly loss.

Before the start of the 4th, Joe Johnson only had 11 points in 4-11 shooting. He finished with 25 points in 9-17 shooting. For those lazy to do math, that means Joe scored 14 points in 5-6 shooting. He also went 3-3 from beyond the arc in the quarter too.

Now I know 25 points in 9-17 shooting isn’t anything to brag about, but you also have to factor in that he missed his first 4 shots. Again, for those  lazy to do math, that means Joe Johnson made 9 out of his last 13 shots, 5 of them being in the 4th quarter.

Solid performance from Joe Johnson. If Jeff Teague would have made that last three point shot and put this game in overtime, no one would be talking about the 7 turnovers. Everyone would be talking about Joe’s 14 points in the 4th quarter…or at least that’s what I would hope.

Don’t Be Fooled By Josh Smith
For the second straight game, Josh Smith filled in the stat sheet. He scored 10 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and dished out 8 assists. But again, for the second straight game, don’t be fooled by that stat. Josh Smith had another sub par game. He went 5-20 from the field, that just shows how badly he played. As you might have guessed, Josh Smith settled for jump shots. It went in for him early, as he made 3 out of his first 4 jump shots (even had me questioning if maybe it’s time to trust that jump shot), but as the game went on, the more bricks came. Josh Smith took more jump shots (8) and missed all of them.

To recap, Josh Smith went 5-20 from the field and 3-12 in jumpshots. Ouch. That’s certainly not going to help the team win.

Welcome back Jason Collins?
Just terrible. He only played 9 minutes, but it was a dreadful 9 minutes. With Zaza having to go to the locker room, due to a cut (see picture above), Larry Drew opted to go with Jason Collins to replace Zaza. The Hawks were up 7 at this point, and with the momentum going their way after the Jeff Teague dunk on Ray Allen, it looked good for the Hawks. But Jason Collins just played terrible. In the 3 1/2 minutes that Collins played before Larry Drew realized that Ivan Johnson would be a better option, Jason Collins gave the Hawks 2 turnovers and 4 missed free throws. Instead of the Hawks extending their lead to double digits, the Hawks found themselves only up 2 in the 3 1/2 minutes Collins played.

Growing pains with Jeff Teague….growing pains….
Jeff Teague is young, and young people make mistakes. I’m sure if Teague could rewind this game, he would. He had some costly bad decisions. First, that dunk…it was great, but no need to taunt and scream at Ray Allen’s face. That leads to nothing but a free point (technical foul shot) and a motivated Celtics team. Second, that last wide open three point shot that would have tied the game….I don’t even know what to say about that. It was the worst airball I’ve seen. It was wide open, in clutch time, and it wasn’t a long desperation three…how he completely missed the rim 2 feet to the left is a head scratcher.

Teague played 41 minutes and finished with 8 points (4 for 13 shooting), 3 assists, and 5 rebounds.


Celtics & Hawks Players & Coaches Quotes/Reactions:

Zaza Pachulia on the Hawks’ come back attempt:

They hit a few 3-pointers in a row, but we didn’t give up even though they were up (15). We still fought, played good defense and tried to put ourselves in a situation to get it to overtime.


Paul Pierce on the Celtics’ toughness:

I thought this game was a grind. Calls weren’t going our way in the second and third quarters, but we just stuck with it. You have to be mentally tough in these kinds of games, especially when you’ve been on the road this long


Zaza Pachulia on the physicality of the game:

It was the most physical game of the year. The Boston Celtics have been one of the best teams, won championships, gotten to the finals. They have a lot of great players. You have to play physical against them, because they’re going to play physical against you.


Larry Drew on the Hawks’ offense:

(Our offense) just got stagnant. Jeff had the breakaway dunk. We had to substitute Zaza too, he caught an elbow in the head. He had to go in the back and get stitches. We got a little bit stagnant after that. Against a team like Boston, you can’t do that. You have to be consistent, particularly on the offensive end, for four quarters. They got after us a little bit defensively, and we didn’t really respond to the pressure as well as I was hoping we would have. We had opportunities. We just didn’t capitalize on them.


Jeff Teague talks about the airballed three point shot that would have tied the game:

I overshot it. I thought I was farther than I was. It happens. I knew they were going to double team Joe [Johnson] and either me or Josh would get a shot. Seeing that there was a big guy flying at me, I just tried to get it up. That caused me to shoot it higher and longer.


Doc Rivers on the last play:

Teague got a wide-open shot and we got lucky on that part of it. We wanted to have them dribble it up and foul them once they got to half court. Clearly we didn’t do a good job of that.



Extra Short Notes/Box Score Watching:

  • Zaza Pachulia was physical and did all that he could. Scored 16 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Only complaint is that he had a pretty costly turnover when he tried to force a bounce pass in the paint to Josh Smith late in the 4th quarter.
  • Asides from that one block he had against Kevin Garnett, I don’t even remember Tracy McGrady playing. Finished with 4 points in 2-4 shooting in 14 minutes.
  • Ivan Johnson went scoreless in 9 minutes. Still played better than Jason Collins though.
  • Kirk Hinrich was pretty much a non-factor. Scored 9 points in 3-7 shooting in 37  minutes but also had 3 turnovers and got hurt on defense.
  • Jerry Stackhouse scored 4 points and made back-to-back field goals that forced Doc Rivers to call a timeout. Good enough.
  • Willie Green was out of his suit and back in a Hawks uniform, but Larry Drew chose not to play him. Can’t disagree with him not doing so. Hawks are short-handed but no need to take the risk of aggravating the injury since Green’s not 100% yet.
  • The Hawks record is now (26-20) and they still maintain their 6th seed spot.
  • The Hawks are .5 games behind the Indiana Pacers (5th seed).
  • The Hawks now post a record of (13-7) in home games this season.
  • With this loss, and the Orlando Magic loss, the Hawks continue to be behind the Orlando Magic (3rd seed) by 2.5 games.
  • With this win, the Hawks are now only ahead by 1.5 games against the Boston Celtics  (7th seed).
  • Hawks are now 6-5 in the month of March. 8 games left in March.


Final Thought:

The Hawks were bad last night, but at least they weren’t Orlando Magic bad.

But in all seriousness, this game wasn’t enjoyable to watch. The come back attempt was fun to see, and I would have certainly not complain if they completed it, but even if they did, this was just an ugly game.

The craziest thing is, this could be a first round match-up. If the Boston Celtics can steal the division lead from the Philadelphia 76ers (they’re currently only 1.5 games behind Philadelphia), and the Hawks can move up to the 5th spot (only behind .5 games from the Indiana Pacers and the 5th seed), the Hawks and the Celtics will face each other in the first round.

Hopefully that doesn’t happen. Especially if tonight was a preview of how the series would play out….ugly and ending up with the Hawks losing.


Next Game:

The Hawks will stay at home and host the Cleveland Cavaliers tomorrow (Wednesday) at 7:30 PM Eastern Time.

The Hawks just faced the Cavaliers earlier last Sunday, and the Hawks won pretty easily. It will be a huge win for the Hawks if they can have a repeat performance.


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Tags: Atlanta Hawks Boston Celtics Game Recap Ivan Johnson Jason Collins Jeff Teague Jerry Stackhouse Joe Johnson Josh Smith Kevin Garnett Kirk Hinrich Paul Pierce Rajon Rondo Ray Allen Tracy McGrady Willie Green Zaza Pachulia

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