Who?: Atlanta Hawks (20-10) at New Orleans Hornets (7-24)
What?: Hawks handle Hornets 95-86
Where?: New Orleans Arena (New Orleans, LA)
When?: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013 at 8:00 PM (ET)
How?: Total team effort
The Hawks offense could not get going in the first quarter, like yesterday in Houston, but were able to rebound in the second half en route to a 95-86 victory. For the second night in a row Teague could not find his shot and Lou joined him in the futility tonight. Hawks guards (Teague, Lou, Korver, Jenkins) were 5-20 in the first half. Although Korver and Jenkins finished with respectable marks, the duo of Teague and Williams finished a combined 6-21. The unquestioned MVP of the game was Josh Smith. He was well on his way to a monster stat line with 11 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals in first half alone.
Greivis Vasquez, the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week, looked the part the whole game, getting to the rim and playing the role of a sure-handed point guard. He narrowly missed out on a triple double with 17 points, 10 assists, 9 rebounds and only 2 turnovers. Eric Gordon, on the other hand, had a somewhat miserable game with 11 points on 17 shots and 4 turnovers.
The Hawks entered the third quarter down by 6 and left up 8. Josh went to work in the third, scoring 10 points, grabbing 4 rebounds and logging 2 steals. He almost outscored the Hornets by himself in that quarter (14 points for New Orleans). Despite getting outrebounded, the Hawks took control in the paint, with a 50-44 edge there. This was instrumental in their comeback, as the bigs made sure Davis and Lopez were non-factors offensively.
The Hawks did not compound their poor shooting from the guards by making poor decisions with the ball. Atlanta only had 5 turnovers for the night, compared to 13 for the Hornets, which was by far their lowest total of the season (previous low was 9 on November 28, 2012 against the Charlotte Bobcats). Atlanta also moved to 7-1 in games on the second night of a back-to-back.
The Hawks will look to avenge a close double overtime win by putting away the Detroit Pistons early Friday night.
1. Josh Smith: Smoove was everywhere, whether it be swatting shots at the rim or stealing the ball from vulnerable Hornet ball handlers and starting fast breaks. On offense, he could not be stopped in the low post, as he simply spun his way to an open hoop over and over. Tonight was his 12th double-double of the season.
2. Al Horford: Horford has been on a hot shooting streak in the past week, going 26/41 (63.4%) in the last three days. The Hornet post players simply seemed too slow to jump out and defend Al’s midrange jumper.
3. Zaza Pachulia: 3 for 3 in Game Balls for the Atlanta front court. Zaza came in off the bench and solidified his status as the best NBA player to come out of the Republic of Georgia (apologies to the Nikoloz Tskitishvili fans out there). At this point, Zaza and energy are synonymous as shown by his double-double in only 20 minutes.
Minutes: Al Horford (41)
Points: Josh Smith & Ryan Anderson (23)
Rebounds: Josh Smith & Anthony Davis (13)
Assists: Greivis Vasquez (10)
Steals: Josh Smith (3)
Blocks: Josh Smith & Anthony Davis (4)
Jeff Teague: C+
4 points on 8 shots. Double yikes. He finished with 8 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals. He also only turned the ball over once. Although, if that’s supposed to be some sort of icing on the statistical cake.. we’re reaching, desperately.
Lou Williams: C+
9 points on 13 shots. Yikes. He did, however, have a solid defensive game and his 7 assists certainly don’t hurt his cause.
Kyle Korver: B+
Prior to tonight, Kover was ranked 15th in total three pointers made and 11th in three point field goal percentage. You can add four more threes on seven attempts to that total after tonight. He didn’t light up the stat sheet, but he’s stretching the floor like few can.
Josh Smith: A+ (Player of the game)
If you’re an Atlanta fan, Josh Smith has inevitably frustrated you on a near nightly basis in some way or another. Fortunately, he has games like this to help us forget all about that. Posting 23 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 blocked shots and 2 steals in 37 minutes. He was also 11-20 from the field.
Al Horford: B+
Horford finished with 20 points on 10-17 shooting. When you couple that was his three rebounds and three assists.. well, you still have an efficient 20 points.
John Jenkins: B
Johny Jumpshot! His minutes are trending upward and his shot are falling. He went 3-4, making his lone three point attempts and had two assists with no turnovers. He gets at least a B, out of sheer Shuttlesworth-ness.
Zaza Pachulia: A
Double-double, 12 points and 10 rebounds. Six of those rebounds just so happened to be offensive. Not to mention he knocked down both of his free throws. Just another Zaza classic.
Player of the Game
I was tempted to give this honor to Zaza Pachulia after he posted a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double performance in just 20 minutes of action, however, Smoove led the Hawks in four separate stat categories!
Josh Smith paced Atlanata with 23 points, 13 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3 steals (all team-high’s). He also added 7 assists to his stat line, which was the second highest on the team (Jeff Teague – 8).
The Atlanta Hawks will be on the road for the third straight game as they travel to Detroit to play the Pistons on Friday, Jan. 4 at 7:30 PM (ET).
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