The Hawks erased the demons of a loss to the Phoenix Suns two weeks ago, a thoroughly sloppy effort, with a solid 107-94 victory.
This is not a Suns team, especially missing arguably their best player in Marcin Gortat, that should give a good team like the Hawks trouble on the road and it showed Friday night in Philips Arena.
Jeff Teague came off the bench for the first time since the 2011 season but looked somewhat tentative moving on a wrapped up ankle. He finished with just eight points on 2-of-10 shooting. Once Teague is comfortable cutting and exploding, tonight’s performance will be out a distant memory. Devin Harris filled his role admirably.
Kyle Korver again upped his franchise leading streak of games with a three pointer to 58 straight games. But he certainly did not stop there. By the end of the night, I’m sure Lindsay Hunter had communicated to his team the lethalness of Korver’s long range stroke — if they did not get the picture on the court.
Al Horford looked out of rhythm and couldn’t get his shot to fall all night long. The length of the Morris twins as well as Jermaine O’Neal and Hamed Haddadi probably had something to do with that.
Johan Petro drained a buzzer beating three pointer at the end of the first quarter for his second career three-point bucket and DeShawn Stevenson matched him before halftime.
Again, it’s a feel-good win to avenge a bad loss that happened across the country. With the win, the Hawks jumped back up to the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference with only the seemingly benign Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks separating them from a top 3 seed. If Teague and Zaza Pachulia — who has been ruled out indefinitely with an Achilles injury — can come back to the forms they displayed earlier in the season, then this Hawks team can assume a higher seed than the majority of basketball fans would expect.
1. Devin Harris: With Teague still recovering from a sprained left ankle, Devin Harris got his first start at the point guard position, as opposed to the shooting guard. Harris finished 6-9 for 15 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals.
2. Josh Smith: Josh Smith was simply more athletic than any player the Suns could throw out there. He, along with the rest of the Hawks, was unstoppable in transition and, along with Devin Harris, led the Hawks to a 29-5 disparity in fastbreak points. His line included 17 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals.
3. Kyle Korver: Korver was money all game long. He was 6-9, including 4-5 from beyond the arc for 16 points. Even when he wasn’t shooting, simply the threat of the long ball opened up opportunities in the paint and midrange areas. Still Korver certainly showed he knows his role on the team. After all, shooters shoot; shooters shoot the ball.