Greetings! In a relatively restful week with just 2 games, Atlanta managed to split them 1-1 at home. Let’s take a look at what transpired…
Hawks vs. Bobcats — Wednesday, November 28th — Win (94-91)
This game will likely be known for Josh Smith’s short run at an elusive 5×5 game. Smith finished with 17 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 blocks, and 3 steals in 37 minutes, and while he played very well in most aspects of the game. There’s no denying his 1-for-9 output on jump shots didn’t help the cause. I thought Al Horford was the best player in the arena during his 42 minutes, scoring 17 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, dishing out 6 assists, and even blocking 3 shots. Overall, the Hawks played a lackluster game offensively as they shot just 40%, but the output of Smith and Horford coupled with a nice bench effort from Lou Williams (17 points, 5 assists) held off the undermanned Bobcats. Charlotte simply couldn’t overcome a horrible shooting night from Kemba Walker (4-15) and 16 team turnovers. In short, this probably should’ve been a more comfortable win for Atlanta, but holding serve at home is key and that held true on Wednesday.
Hawks vs. Cavs —Friday, November 30th — Loss (113-111)
Alonzo Gee scored on a put-back at the gun, and that was that. Cleveland had come into Philips Arena without Kyrie Irving and knocked off the Hawks. Josh Smith actually took responsibility for allowing the lay-up as he was “ball watching” and not boxing out… and he was right. It’s an inexcusable play from your “best” player, and at least he knew it. Elsewhere, this game basically came down to Cleveland utterly dominating on the glass. The Cavs snared 49 rebounds to just 28 from the home-town Hawks, and the front-court duo of Anderson Varejao (18 rebounds) and Tristan Thompson (15 rebounds) out-rebounded the entire Hawks roster. The Hawks were in the game throughout largely due to 12 made threes including 4 unexpected triples from DeShawn Stevenson. This is even more shocking when you realize that Kyle Korver sat out this game due to injury and Anthony Morrow was limited to just 6 minutes. The other key for me was Jeremy Pargo’s repeated abuse of Jeff Teague and the Atlanta backcourt overall. Pargo finished with 22 points on 9-13 shooting, but it seemed to have even a larger impact due to 3 huge buckets late. I’d like to write this game off as coincidental, but the rebounding problems will likely resurface on nights where the Hawks play small, and that’s not to be ignored. Overall, teams lose games in this league that they shouldn’t, and even at home, I wouldn’t treat this game with any dire focus.
Not a great week, but not a dreadful one either. The Hawks have a 4-full-day break between the Cleveland game and when the Nuggets come to town on Wednesday, so it should be a rested and focus team.