Instant Reaction: Hawks 102, Pacers 92

Quick Thought: Taking care of business through the frontcourt and Mike Bibby.

Summary:  

Josh Smith. What a roller coaster of emotions watching this dude play ball. He was nearly unstoppable in the post tonight, especially when the Pacers generously put James Posey on him, which is why it was maddening to watch him pull up in the first quarter, obviously feeling flush with a massive 4-0 lead, and jack a 22 footer when nobody had quite made it down the court yet for the Hawks

Still, you can't deny his awesomeness. 25/8/and 7 blocks along with his solid stroke from the line, where he was 6-7, and he was the difference for the Hawks. Mega-blocks on Brandon Rush and a "I don't think so" trail block of a Josh McRoberts dunk were incredible.

The Hawks did seem to take some time to get into gear, save for the first few possessions that the Hawks ran to perfection and got an very early lead. It's possible to think that the Hawks get pretty complacent if they feel like, should they decide to execute perfectly, they can score whenever they want. 

After that early lead, the Hawks stalled offensively, and needed a last second three from Jeff Teague to salvage a 20 point quarter. Eventually, the Hawks toughened up and stabilized, taking the lead at the half, and then grabbing control in the third quarter. 

26 Hawks assists to only 11 turnovers really helped take that control, as did taking advantage of the Pacers' 16 turnovers.

Three Stars:

1. Josh Smith

Cannot be denied.

2. Al Horford

It's getting ridiculous, this 2 fouls nonsense. Al was dominant early on, later on, and all throughout his near (31) minutes. He had 15 points despite really only getting plays run for him in the fourth quarter. He was money from the outside, well far away from the much, much improved Roy Hibbert. They gave him room and he made them pay with a 7-12 night.

(Sidenote: Not that I'm complaining about running plays with Al in the fourth. The offense going through Al was great late in the game as was bringing him back in with 10 minutes left to play.)

3. Mike Bibby

The Bibster was on, and he made them pay, too. Bibby was 16 and 7 on 5-9/3-5 shooting. When teams sell out defensively as they did on Joe Johnson tonight, teams have to pay the price, and Bibby joined Al Horford in doing just that from the outside.

Also:

Jeff Teague made a real nice pass to Smoove for a bucket. Teague drew two Pacers as he neared the hoop and he somehow slipped the ball to Josh, who had smartly created some space to make such a play happen.

Joe may not have had a good game but he pitched in 5 assists against a single turnover. Also, on a now-familiar play that sees Al Horford pass the ball to Joe after Johnson moves around a Bibby pick heading towards the hoop, Joe seemed to anticipate that Josh McRoberts was going to make a play on a Joe layup so Johnson baited McRoberts in, went reverse, made the shot and drew the contact. Smart play and gave the team a needed three point play.

Bibby may be a cheating veteran, but he's our cheating veteran. On a play where Bibby sold more contact than there was, drawing an illegal screen on Solomon Jones, Bibby winked to Dominique Wilkins on his way down the court. 

Seven wins in a row now against the Pacers, but for a second there in the first half, it looked like the team may give that streak up, but they played excellent in the second half and took care of another sub .500 team....and on the road yet again.

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