The Hawks stormed out of the gate, taking advantage of the match ups that their “big” lineup created with Indiana. After that strong start, Indiana clawed their way back and took a 12-point lead into the 4th quarter thanks to the general offensive ineptitude of the Hawks throughout the 3rd period. The Hawks held the Pacers to 9 4th quarter points and finished the game on a 20-3 run, courtesy of Kyle Korver, Al Horford, and Jeff Teague, which sealed an 89-86 victory for Atlanta.
Jeff Teague (SDS Player of the Game): A
Teague was fantastic on defense, anticipating passing lanes and harassing George Hill all night, but his distribution in transition was great as well. Once Kyle Korver caught fire, Teague actively sought him out off of screens and on the break, helping the Hawks chip away at Indiana’s 14-point lead. Once the chipping away was done and the game was up for grabs, Teague seized the reins of the team, picking off an errant pass and starting the up-and-down pace that favored the Hawks even though he was stripped before he could go up for a layup. Then, with the Hawks down 1 and 1:04 remaining in the game, Teague canned a 3-pointer and followed it up the next possession with a game-sealing up and under in the paint. He finished with 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists.
Kyle Korver: B
Korver started off the game cold, which isn’t surprising after he bricked his way through Atlanta’s opening two games, but he turned it around in the nick of time, saving the Hawks’ skin in the 4th quarter. His two 3-pointers (one from probably 28-feet out) and long two off of a screen all came in the 4th and helped fuel Atlanta’s comeback. Once he saw the ball go in, suddenly he couldn’t miss. “Shooters shoot,” he’d say after the game, thanking Allen Iverson for instilling a philosophy that had become the very essence of his own game.
Josh Smith: C
Smith started off the game by absolutely abusing Sam Young in the post, leading everyone to believe he was in for another huge night. He wasn’t, unfortunately, thanks to a rough second half that saw him shoot one too many jumpers, struggle from the field, and lose his handle on the ball a few times. He’s getting smarter, though, I think. Maybe. I don’t know. But at least he didn’t shoot a jumper with the game on the line when he had the opportunity to do so. Instead he took Paul George to the hoop and missed a tough fading hook. Improvement! He also had the most critical offensive rebound of the game when he grabbed the ball with just over a minute to go and kicked it out to Teague for the go ahead 3-pointer.
Al Horford: A-
Horford is a monster on the boards. I can’t believe he only had 9 rebounds. While watching the game, I could have sworn he’d be at around 13, and maybe that’s just because on every missed shot, his presence was felt even if he didn’t grab the actual rebound. That’s huge. He’s huge. He was an absolute beast on defense, saving Teague from sheer destruction when he was caught in a mismatch with David West, bodying up Hibbert every time he had the opportunity to, and altering almost any shot that came over him. He also had 16 points and showed that he is Atlanta’s most efficient scorer around the hoop. No surprise there.
Zaza Pachulia: B+
Zaza had 14 rebounds. 6 of those were offensive rebounds. And no one is surprised. This is what he does night in and night out. He grinds on the boards, roughs up people in his way, and head-butts everyone else. On a less inspiring note, he needs to stop coming down with the ball every time he grabs an offensive board. He loses way to many rebounds to scrappy guards swatting at the ball when it’s at his waste level. If he just keeps the ball up and looks for an outlet (because chances are he won’t go back up with it), Atlanta will always be in good shape with him on the floor.
Lou Williams: C
Compared to the last 2 games, it was a rough night for Lou. He only had 9 points and never got it going offensively, shooting just 4-11 on the night (1-5 from three). He forced too many shots and did everything he could to get the offense going during the 3rd quarter slump, but he just couldn’t make anything. Well, at least until he buried a 4th quarter three and then caught the Indiana defense sleeping for a game sealing dunk with under 20 seconds to go.
DeShawn Stevenson: B
Anytime you can get 8 points out of Stevenson without him missing 10 shots, it’s a good night. The tough defense is always expected, but when he scores 8 points on just 2 shots, it’s just an added bonus.
Devin Harris: F
I like Devin Harris, I really do, but my god was he awful. He was atrocious on defense, leaving George Hill open on the perimeter without even so much of a thought of closing him out. He forced drives, completely bricked a 4-footer in transition, and just struggled to get things going. Remember when he scored 9 points really quickly in the first few minutes of the season and we all thought for like 15 minutes that he was going to be really good? Those were the days, weren’t they? At least he’s not always this bad. Maybe he’ll come back strong next game, but this should be a reminder to LD that Devin should never get minutes over Teague with the game on the line, which happened against OKC.
Anthony Tolliver: D
The alley-oop was nice because I didn’t really know he could dunk, but everything else was pretty bad: forced jumpers, missing the unforced open jumpers, slow rotations on defense, and all other things like that. Like Harris, he’s usually able of contributing something more than this.
Ivan Johnson: C
He picked up a few stupid fouls and had a little bit of difficulty finishing around the hoop. It wasn’t the greatest night for Ivan, who as we saw against OKC, is capable of much more on both sides of the ball. However, when LD gives him more than 8 short-leashed minutes, he usually brings it. He needs more minutes, even if he wasn’t great tonight.
Larry Drew: D
He was doing fine until the 3rd quarter came along and he decided that coaching was suddenly optional. He ran no sets and let the offense hopelessly flounder under an at the time trigger happy Lou Williams and out of control Devin Harris. He didn’t call a timeout until the Hawks had already let Indiana go an 18-0 run, finally realizing that his team was falling into a rut so deep that a return to decent basketball would be almost impossible. But, the Hawks did come back and win the game. And that play that allowed Lou Williams to break open for a dunk with under 20 seconds to go was pretty sweet, even if the rest of the half was mostly a coaching disaster.