Instant Reaction: Hawks 112, Grizzlies 109

Quick Thought: Life begins without Joe Johnson.

Summary: 

The Grizzlies shot 52 percent, outrebounded the Hawks 40-28, and blistered the Hawks 66-42 with points in the paint.

So how exactly did the Hawks win?

The Hawks made three and free throws, turned the ball over less, and stuck Marvin Williams, Mike Bibby, and Al Horford in early in the fourth quarter to stop a Memphis run that had cut a 10-point lead down to 2 extremely fast.

Bibby in particular was hot in the fourth quarter, out-dueling Mike Conley 10-8,  on the strength of 3 out of 3 long range shots. 

Down the stretch, the Hawks made only 7 of 12, with Jamal Crawford continuing his strange free throw slump by missing 2 of 4 in the last couple of possessions. Those misses enabled the Grizzlies to have a chance to tie the game off the rebound, but rookie Greivis Vasquez didn't release down the floor when Rudy Gay rebounded, and time ran out.

Three Stars:

1. Al Horford

Boss had to hold down the interior when Josh Smith drew (gasp!) two first half fouls and sat for the second quarter and then again when Smith unraveled with turnovers in the third and found his way to the bench. Meanwhile, Horford had to keep Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph off the glass on his own, to predictable results (Randolph had 19/19, and Gasol was 16/10). Also predictable was Horford's production: 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists, with nary a single turnover. His fourth quarter production was also stellar: 8 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 3-4 shooting and 2-2 from the line.

2. Marvin Williams

You can't deny the game Marvin had, but you may not have noticed it. 15 points and 4 boards helped to replace Joe Johnson's absent production. Williams played a season high (40) minutes, shot 6-11, and had a team high +14, which means (if my Florida math is right), that the team was -9 in the (slightly less than 8) minutes he wasn't on the floor. 

3. Josh Powell/Jeff Teague

We thought Mike Bibby, and had told Kris I would split a star, but Powell and Teague lifted the team when they started slow yet again. Powell was 8-9, 16 points with all but two of those points coming in the first half. Teague played with considerably more aggression and confidence, showing in his baskets in the lane and (5) assists against zero turnovers in his 14:33 playing time.

Also:

Now that we have a visit to Dr. James Andrews to explain Joe Johnson's slump, can we get someone to look at Zaza Pachulia

The Hawks had (33) assists in the game, and only (11) turnovers---another reason they were able to get past MEM despite their good production.

Jason Collins paid homage to Mario West by playing the last .001 second of the first quarter and nothing else.

Jamal Crawford finished the game in Joe Johnson's slot, even though Mo Evans started the game, a gameplan that Coach Drew would say after the game would be the norm with Joe out.

We'll have all the sound up on a post later, including:

All the Coach Drew post game presser, where he talks about the game, Joe's injury, and the stretch of time he had Josh on the bench in the second half after (3) consecutive turnovers.

Al Horford's thoughts after the game

Mike Bibby not wanting me to jinx him about his current hot shooting

Josh Smith telling me he had a bad game, and his thoughts about gathering himself mentally after making a series of mistakes.

Josh Powell deflecting credit for his play in the first half

Jeff Teague telling me about what he learned by sitting last week, what coach encouraged him with in practice, and how he applied those practice lessons against Memphis.

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