Any time your opponent manages to post 29 assists compared to only nine turnovers, it’s going to be a long night — that’s exactly how the cookie crumbled for the Hawks Tuesday evening.
It didn’t help that Atlanta started slow out of the gate, giving up allowing a ten point lead in the first quarter, or that Nikola Pekovic is apparently the Montenegrin-Wilt Chamberlain, as he posted 25 points and a career-high 18 rebounds on the night.
That said, the Hawks did manage to make this one a nail-biter in the second half. However, by simply taking a glance at the stats, you would think they should have won the game. After all, Atlanta posted a better field goal percentage, shockingly managed to scrape together a better effort on the glass, and shot better from the line.
What they did not do, however, was protect the ball — the Hawks coughed up the rock early and often, which lead to their 15 turnovers. It was actually more so just solid defense on the part of Minnesota than a lackadaisical effort by Atlanta.
With that, here is my immediate overreactions and analysis of each Hawks player’s performance. (Players will not appear if they did not play at least 15 minutes. Sorry, Tolliver fans)
Jeff Teague: F ☚
I hate to point fingers, but the Hawks lost this game because of his play. Or lack of. He was literally a walking foul and only mustered five points and three rebounds in 22 minutes. As someone who recently advocated for Teague as “the Hawks most important player” — I’m a little salty at the moment.
Lou Williams: A
Looks like Larry Drew finally found his golden boy. Not only did he start, but he’s playing heavy minutes — and performing spectacularly in them. He’s rough around the edges, there’s not questioning that. But as far as guys that can erupt at any given moment, Williams is proving be cream of the crop. He finished with 21 points and 8 assists.
Kyle Korver: B-
Kyle Korver was.. well, he was very Kyle Korver. He went 4-7 from beyond the arc and tried his best to contribute elsewhere. Tried being the key word there, like tried as in did not succeed.
Josh Smith: A+ (Player of the game)
There are very few things more constant than Smith’s ability to ruin an outstanding three quarters with the fourth. Coffee comes to mind, but not much else. That said, he threw together a stat line of 21 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 blocks and a steal. The Hawks wouldn’t have even been in this game without his production.
Al Horford: A
He wasn’t perfect on defensively, namely on the defensive glass. But whenever a guy goes 9-16 for 21 points and pulls down 6 offensive rebound, certain things can easily be overlooked.
John Jenkins: B-
He’s a rookie, he’s making his shots and he’s looking like the second coming of shuttlesworth doing it. He went 4-6 from the field and 2-3 from downtown for 10 points. He also had two blocks.
Zaza Pachulia: C-
It was a game where we could have really used Zaza stepping up on the glass, but we just didn’t see it. He finished with three defensive rebounds.
The Hawks will now look to bounce back against the Cleveland Cavaliers, with the season series tied at one game apiece. You can watch the game live on NBA League Pass and Fox Sports South, or listen to it for free on NBA All-Access radio on Wednesday, Jan. 9, at 7:00 PM (ET).