Nets 93 Hawks 91 (OT)

Boxscore

Gameflow

Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
ATL 99.6 0.91 50 12.3 15.9 17.1
NJ 99.6 0.93 45.6 9.8 30 20.1

Do you begin by saying the Hawks never should have been in a close game down the stretch given how the first half played out or do you begin by saying Vince Carter never should have had to make a 29-footer at the buzzer to win the game given how the second half and overtime played out?

If you prefer the former, the Hawks had a 19-point lead at the half despite not playing particularly well, New Jersey (reduced to being coached by Brian Hill) were in disarray, and Atlanta missed 8 of their 12 free throw attempts in the second half.

Do you tend toward the latter, it took a Mario West half-court shot at the halftime buzzer, a better return than could be expected from Josh Smith choosing to take 8 jump shots* (and they were all choices...bad ones), Devin Harris missing a fourth quarter possession due to injury (a possession which gave us all an object lesson in Keyon Dooling's limitations as a point guard), Joe Johnson committing his fifth foul with 4:46 left in the game which meant that a) Marvin Williams was pressed into duty guarding Devin Harris and did an extraordinary job (After Johnson's fifth foul, Harris went 0-5 from the floor and committed 3 turnovers) and b) Maurice Evans had to be put in the game with 20 seconds left in overtime (New Jersey ball, Hawks down one) to commit a foul, only Evans didn't foul anyone, instead he stripped the ball from Devin Harris which led to Josh Smith's go ahead layup with 11 seconds left in the game.

*3-6 on two-point jumpers and both of his fourth quarter three-point misses: at 6:13 with the Hawks down 77-74 and at 0:51 with the Hawks down 85-83 were rebounded by a teammate. Tip of the hat to Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby for correctly anticipating and grabbing those misses.

Marvin Williams:

"They just came out and punched us in the face after halftime, and we didn’t respond. Being up that big at the half on the road, especially against a team that’s already beaten us twice this year … there’s no excuse and no explanation for something like that.”

Sekou Smith is firmly in the New Jersey-never-should-have-been-allowed-to-get-back-in-the-game camp:

Carter’s last shot should never have been.

And not because the Hawks have shouldn’t have squandered that 20-point lead or because they should have made their free throws down the stretch or because they should have kept the ball moving on the offensive end until they found the best shot (as the Nets did to perfection in the second half).

But because Carter never should have been allowed to scoop up an errant inbounds pass from Jarvis Hayes without the Hawks swarming him like the ice cream man on a sweltering summer day.

A fair perspective, I think, but I do take issue with his description of the Hawks play so far this season:

...the Hawks have enjoyed a monster season so far while playing far below their potential for much of their first 32 games...

  • Joe Johnson is having the best season of his career.
  • So is Marvin Williams.
  • Mike Bibby is having a career year shooting the ball.
  • So is Flip Murray.
  • Al Horford is playing a little better than he did last year.
  • Zaza Pachulia has given every indication that last year was lost due to injuries not an erosion of skill.

Other than Josh Smith missing 12 games, what has gone counter to the most incredibly optimistic outlook for any Hawks player (who is allowed to play in games)?

Let's not use this surprisingly strong start as a stick with which to beat the team should they not continue to win 2 out of every 3 games the rest of the season.

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