The Hawks first non-NBATV national game was surely a memorable one.
Would you believe Al Horford was a perfect 8-8?
Would you believe Jeff Teague scored 27 points on 15 shots and had 6 assists and 5 rebounds?
Would you believe the Hawks shot a season high 60% from the field?
Would you believe all of these facts came in a loss?
Well, that’s what happened as the Atlanta Hawks fell the the New York Knicks 106-104.
According to the Atlanta Hawks’ Twitter account, the Hawks were the first team this season to lose while shooting 60% from the field. Frankly, there are very few criticisms of an Atlanta offense on the road with this mark against Tyson Chandler and the Knicks, other than the 19 turnovers.
Carmelo Anthony was pleased to find himself open around the arc over and over and made the Hawks pay to the tune of 9-12 from three point land. His 42 points were the second most ever scored by a Knick in a game against the Hawks, behind only Patrick Ewing with 43. The 9 three pointers also tied a Knick record held by three players.
Jeff Teague found his way to the rim early and often and was the only consistent penetrator. DeShawn Stevenson had 15 points off the bench but failed to slow down Carmelo Anthony.
Raymond Felton had a double-double, racking up assists by feasting off the slow Hawk rotations. Atlanta was very sluggish fighting through screens and could not send double teams fast enough once Melo got position in the high post.
The game was close from beginning to finish, despite some double digit leads for the Knicks. However, the lack of execution down the stretch will haunt the Hawks and their fans for a while.
The Hawks final points came on a beautiful out of bounds play that opened up the lane for a Josh Smith to Al Horford high-low pick and roll. However, after a stop and a Smoove rebound, Josh committed a back court violation whilst leading a break. After another stop, Jeff Teague and Josh Smith failed to properly set up a ball screen for Teague, leading to a Smith offensive foul. A quick Melo layup and questionable foul call put the Knicks up by 2 points with 12 seconds remaining. A busted Teague drive led to a Josh three point heave at the end of the clock, sealing the loss.
This isn’t to single out Josh for the team’s poor possessions and even sloppier perimeter defense, but considering his status as the team leader and focus of many trade rumors, he and the rest of the group will be put under a microscope for this performance. It was a very winnable game, especially considering the hot shooting, and questions will linger about how the Hawks let it slip away.
Atlanta had a chance to grab a signature win against a quality team on national TV but came up a little short. Still, the season will progress and we may be nearing a conclusion to the Josh Smith saga in the weeks ahead.
On what note will the Hawks enter the All-Star break?