Dec 5, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks small forward Josh Smith (5) celebrates after a dunk in the final seconds of the second half against the Denver Nuggets at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 108-104. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Hawks vs Nuggets: Game Grades

The Atlanta Hawks took the floor on national television Wednesday night as they matched up against the Denver Nuggets.

Atlanta, being fresh off a heart-wrenching loss to the Cavs five days earlier, had more than enough time to right the ship. Namely, their woes on the glass and defensively.

“I think we have some tough guys, it’s just a matter of when we get out there on that court, bringing some type of physical presence, and we didn’t do it well enough against Cleveland,” Hawks player development instructor Nick Van Exel told Hawks.com “And we know against Denver, they’re just as tough as far as going to the offensive glass, so we’ve got to be prepared for that.”

With a glaring disparity between Denver and Atlanta in offensive rebounding, being ranked first and 25th in the league, respectively, the Nuggets were set to give the Hawks an absolute nightmare on paper.

So of course it was only natural for the Hawks to go on to outrebound the Nuggets 19-11 offensively, ultimately becoming one of the games deciding factors.

Basketball is fun, isn’t it?

That said, while a win is a win. What good would it be unless I got to over-analyze and overreact to every players performance?

Fine, it’s still pretty awesome. But you’re stuck with me anyway.(players will not appear if they did not play at least 15 minutes*)

Jeff Teague: F

Yikes. It was just a night to forget for Teague. He logged 9 points on 4-16 shooting and only dished out four assists. He also managed to make Ty Lawson look like the second coming of Derrick Rose, as Lawson dropped 32 on him.

Lawson was due though. He had been dealing with a shooting slump for the better part of this season and things just started connecting for him. I honestly don’t think it would have mattered all that much who was guarding him, he was just feeling it. So don’t look too much into this one. It is what it is.

Devin Harris: B+

Look, I know what you’re thinking. And no, it’s not a typo. Harris actually looked like the real deal in this one. Maybe he was having New Jersey flashbacks or something. Regardless, he was excellent in dictating the pace with the ball in his hands, he was aggressive but didn’t force the issue(5-6 FG) and notched three steals. I wouldn’t bank on this kind of outing consistently, but he seems to be steadily finding his groove in Atlanta.

DeShawn Stevenson: C+

Stevenson remains the quintessential role player. Never thought you’d hear that, did you? He’s a sturdy defensive presence more often than not, and while he’s not Kyle Korver he’s been a stalwart from beyond the arc. He finished with 9 points on 3-5 from deep. It’s not exactly the kind of performance that’s going to have you naming your future children DeShawn, but there’s something to be said for not trying to do too much and simply letting the game come to you.

Josh Smith: B

Yeah, yeah. His steal, dunk and free throw were the dagger that sealed the game, I get that. But it still doesn’t change the fact his performance just didn’t sit right with me. He finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds. And while that might look fairly “stat sheet stuffer supreme” on the surface, it was the manner in which he played that had me, and I’m guessing the entirety of Hawks’ nation, cringing every other 20 seconds.

As in typical J-Smoove fashion he’d make an amazing open court play, dishing it off to Al Horford in a flat-out spectacular sequence one second, then follow it up with some lackadaisical transition defense and cough up a panicky turnover off a double team the next.

To be honest, the Hawks looked better when he was on the bench more often than not. And if we were to weigh this performance against a max contract, Smith is treading water.

Al Horford: A+

25 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, 1 block, 12-20 FG. Horford’s stats are a lot like his game. He can let it do the talking.

Lou Wiliams: B-

First off, Lou had Andre Miller guarding him. So how he didn’t drop like a billion points is beyond me. However, he did finish with 16. Although it was on 4-13 shooting.. He rounded out the night with six assists, two steals and a bit to be desired at the line going 2-6. Yeah, just another night at the office for Williams really.

Zaza Pachulia: B

Zaza was decidedly Zaza. 11 points, 7 rebounds, 1 block.

Ivan Johnson: B+

Ivan Johnson is a beast. I say that figuratively, but with each passing game I start to question that just a little more. He only played 15 minutes, but he successfully rattled Danilo Gallinari to the point where he had no lasting impact on the game. His six points and four boards were really just icing on the cake, because as usual his presence extended far beyond the box score.

The Hawks will look to build on the win against Washington Wizards at home, Dec 7th. It will be the second time the teams have faced off this season, as Atlanta took the first game in a 101-100 thriller.

You can catch the game live with NBA League Pass or check Fox Sports South for your local scheduling. You can also check back daily with Soaring Down South for everything Hawks.


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