Dec 26, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks small forward Josh Smith (5) dunks in the second half against the Detroit Pistons at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 126-119 in double overtime. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
In a wild affair in Philips Arena on Wednesday night, the Atlanta Hawks escaped with a 126-119 double-overtime victory over the Detroit Pistons. The craziest part of the game was the fact that Atlanta led by 21 points (89-68) with 9:21 remaining in the game, only to allow Detroit all the way back to force overtime after an Austin Daye three-pointer and Al Horford converting 1 of 2 free throws late in regulation. Will Bynum was the story of the night for either team, as the Pistons guard went absolutely nuts and finished with 31 points off the bench including a barrage of offense during the 4th quarter comeback. Before we risk breaking into a full-fledged recap, let’s get to the individual game grades, and we’ll focus on players who played at least 15 minutes (sorry, Ivan).
Jeff Teague: C+
It seems pretty harsh to give a guy who just put up 17 points and 11 assists a “C” (average) grade, but that’s where we’re headed with Teague. I thought he was mediocre at best for the better part of 4 quarters, and while the 11 assists are stellar, they came with 4 turnovers, and some questionable decision-making throughout. He gets the “plus” for his big free throws late, but let’s also not forget that he was repeatedly torched by Will Bynum in the 4th quarter.
Lou Williams: B
This was such a Lou Williams game. He finished with 17 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and made a huge three in the first OT. It wasn’t Lou’s most efficient game, but he didn’t kill the Hawks anywhere, and I thought he was the more effective point guard for much of the night.
Kyle Korver: C-
Rough night for Kyle. It’s hard to overlook when he shoots 2-11 from the field (and 2-9 on threes), but I did think Korver made some positive plays at times. His defense is consistently undervalued, and while he’s never going to be great on that end, his effort is consistent and he’s not a liability like he was advertised as prior to the season. Also, Korver made a giant dagger three in the 2nd OT.
Josh Smith: B
Such a weird performance. I thought Josh was absolutely tremendous (and that’s hard for me to say) for the first three quarters. He shot 13-17, scoring 30 points, and while he did take 2 ill-advised and contested jump shots, it was easy to overlook in favor of his deft play around the rim, and some tremendous interior passing. Then, the fourth quarter and overtime happened. Josh shot 0-4 in the 4th and 0-4 combined in the two overtime frames, and was basically a disaster. Three of his jump shots failed to draw rim, and it looked like he ran out of gas completely. I settled on a B simply because he was awesome for 3 quarters, but this was an A+ that torpedoed into a B.
Al Horford: B+
By default, Horford grabs the best grade of the starters despite playing only an average game for him. Al finished with 22 and 10 in 42 minutes, and while he wasn’t spectacular, he made all of the plays that he always makes, and was the stabilizing force on the interior all night. It was the opposite of Josh Smith’s night, as Horford didn’t give us much “peak” on Wednesday, but there was no floor, either.
Anthony Morrow: A
16 points in 18 minutes will garner you the best grade on the team. Morrow shot 6-10 from the field including 3-5 on threes, and this was the best of Morrow. I would’ve liked to have seen more of him in the 2nd half, and this is yet another example of how dangerous he is offensively.
Deshawn Stevenson: C+
26 minutes. 7 shot attempts. 6 three-point attempts. Solid defense. What is there to say about Stevenson? He did seem more perturbed than normal after being missed on a few ball reversals, but that simply led to a couple of quick trigger threes that weren’t needed. His shot selection is bad at times, but he’s still the best wing defender on the team. It’s a shame that Will Bynum isn’t a wing.
Zaza Pachulia: C-
Not a great Zaza game. Only 4 rebounds in 22 minutes and he didn’t provide much offense, either. The Hawks were definitely better defensively with him on the court, but it was an underwhelming performance.
Larry Drew: B
I didn’t love the 5-man units that Drew deployed in the second half. He left Teague on Bynum for way too long, played Stevenson in some weird, non-defensive situations, and I hated the iso-call for Josh on the final possession of the 1st overtime. That said, it says something positive about your coach when you can blow a 25-point lead, and maintain composure enough mentally to come back and win in overtime. Kudos.
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