The Atlanta Hawks wasted no time in kicking off the Larry Drew era in style by defeating the Memphis Grizzlies 119-104 at the Fed Ex Forum in Memphis. The Hawks showcased their new look offense to the tune of 53% shooting for the night and six Hawks players in double figures.
- Consider that Al Horford could never find a rhythm tonight due to foul trouble and scored only two points while playing 18 minutes. Now also consider that Zaza Pachulia recorded a double double with 17 points and 11 rebounds in 30 minutes off the bench. Pachulia helped give the Hawks a spark in the early going which they never really looked back from.
- Mike Bibby came up big with 19 points on 7-9 shooting including 4-4 from deep. He showed that he can still be effective offensively especially in a motion offensive setting where he can find openings in the defense. He still struggles defensively against the quicker point guards (Mike Conley 23 points), but remains an important piece to this Atlanta Hawks puzzle.
- Joe Johnson didn't have his most efficient game but there were some encouraging signs across the box score. Johnson scored 22 points on 6-16 shooting (1-5 from deep) but got to the free throw line 11 times making 9. Better yet he seemed to find the room to operate in the paint while in the context of the offense. Johnson also led the team with 7 assists on the night. Perhaps the best number though was the fact that he only played 31 minutes. It would be huge for this team in the long run if Johnson can somehow cut his minutes down to around 35-36 a game this season.
- It was a good game bad game situation for Josh Smith most of the night. Josh still seems to be hugging the perimeter in the new offensive scheme while firing up mostly long jump shots in tonight's game and seldom attacking the paint. Before we throw too many darts Smith's way though lets consider that he led the team with five blocked shots and helped to set the tone defensively for the Hawks at the rim. Smith finished the game with 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists.
- Marvin Williams did most of his damage in the third quarter as the Hawks were able to hold off a rally from the Grizzlies. Williiams would score 15 points on 5-6 shooting while also going 5-6 from the free throw line. He grabbed seven rebounds and also blocked a shot.
- The Hawks bench outscored the Grizzlies bench by a 50-28 margin led by Zaza's seventeen. Jamal Crawford chipped in 13 points while Josh Powell posted 8 points and 6 rebounds. Mo Evans tossed in 7 points for good measure.
- Jeff Teague played 16 minutes in this one scoring 5 points while dishing out a single assist. He is still being worked back into the lineup due to the ankle injury that he suffered during the exhibition season. The one thing I expect to be different for Teague this season will be that he will get minutes every no matter what. Some nights he may play more than others but he wasn't needed tonight with Bibby enjoying a great shooting night.
- Memphis finished this game without the services of their starting center Marc Gasol due to an ankle injury and their starting power forward who left the game after the first half with a back injury.