Hawks Hold off Sixers, Win 104-101

The Hawks once again showed some potent offensive firepower in capturing their second road win of the season. After trailing in the games early minutes 11-2, the Hawks went on a run that saw them lead for the most part by double figures before having to hang on for dear life at the end. From this game there were again some exciting things to take from it and perhaps there are some warning signs on the horizon as well.

Box score musings after the jump:

 

  • I said in the preview that I thought Al Horford would have a bounce back game tonight and he did in a big way. Horford got off to a terrific start scoring 13 points on 6-6 shooting in the first period alone. He would finish the game with 20 points and 12 rebounds for his first double double of the year. Despite the big first quarter, Horford still only got 11 shots up for the game. When he is rolling the way he was I would like to see us go to him even more. 
  • You might can better accept Al Horford only attempting 11 shots when you look and see that Joe Johnson only attempted 10 himself. Joe finished with 22 points on 6-10 shooting and got to the free throw line another twelve times where he made nine. That is 23 free throws attempted by Joe in the first two games which off the chart in comparison to his career numbers. That is definitely something that the Hawks will want to keep going as long as they can. Johnson did rack up six turnovers tonight and made only two of four free throws when the Hawks were trying to seal the victory down the stretch. 
  • Two games in and Josh Smith is having a Jekyll and  Hyde type of season. On defense he is indispensable. He blocked six more shots tonight despite only playing 29 minutes due to a problem with leg cramps. He has been a one man wrecking crew at the rim and has covered up many defensive mistakes by his teammates. His block of an Andres Nocioni three point attempt sealed the victory for the Hawks tonight. 
  • As good as Smith has been on defense, you have to scratch your head when looking at his offense. Smith attempted 11 shots on the night with at least half of them being of the perimeter variety. It was his three point make with 47 seconds to go that put the Hawks up five and gave them some much needed breathing room. Yet it is fact that he would take that shot at that crucial moment with time still on the clock that makes you question whether he has been paying attention at all. Hats off to him because he probably won the game with that three pointer and the late blocked shot. However, until I hear it come out of Larry Drew's mouth that he is ok with Smith taking a shot like that in that situation I am calling it a bad shot. It won the game tonight but at some point this season it will lose a game. It is undisciplined and the numbers show that at best it is a hail mary type of play. 
  • Jamal Crawford played a very efficient game scoring 19 points on 5-9 shooting and also going a perfect 7-7 from the free throw line. Jamal also dished out five assists in 32 minutes of action. 
  • Zaza Pachulia didn't have the great numbers that he had in the Memphis game but he was still solid posting seven points and seven rebounds. When Al Horford is playing well Zaza will not be relied on as much. We have to really be excited for his start to the season. 
  • Jeff Teague only played 11 minutes in this one scoring four points and handing out two assists. He didn't commit any turnovers which is a good thing. I expect his role to expand as the season goes along as long as he starts to perform. He is still hampered by a sore ankle that cost him some valuable time in the exhibition season. 
  • For the second game in a row the Hawks shot over 50% from the field (51%). 
  • The Hawks have been cashing in at the free throw line making 53 of 62 attempts in the first two games. 

 

To summarize all of this, I thought this might be a tougher game for the Hawks. For three quarters the Hawks were cruising before things started to unravel in the fourth. Any game that the Hawks commit 20 turnovers in they will have a hard time winning. The hot shooting tonight (51%) helped them overcome all of the turnovers. Joe Johnson and Josh Smith combined for 11 of those 20. So when you look at it that way I am very happy for the team to be heading home 2-0. Also worth mentioning is that Mike Bibby didn't have the great shooting night that he had in the opener but had a great lob pass to Al Horford coming down the stretch as the Hawks were trying to hold off the Sixers. Bibby led the team with six assists on the night and is still the best at getting the Hawks where they need to be at crunch time. For a number of reasons the offense stalled in the fourth quarter tonight but coming out of a less than spectacular preseason is that really that much of a surprise? 

The way the Hawks are playing right now offensively the only people slowing them down are themselves. Once they get even more comfortable with the system the turnovers should go down. That is why it is great to steal a win like this when they were less than stellar with ball security. The last thing that I think is notable is that no Hawks starter played more than 34 minutes. Joe Johnson only played 32 minutes in this one after playing 31 in the opener. Thus far coach Drew has done an excellent job in my opinion of handling the rotation and keeping the minutes down. While the results of such a move may not be visible in the early going, they will however play a part later in the season. 

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