Jamal suddenly looked like Jamal again. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
It is really hard to lose when you can't miss and the Hawks couldn't miss Tuesday night shooting an eye popping 60% from the floor in the game. Josh Smith in particular proved to be unstoppable in scoring 34 points while only missing two shots from the field. Combine Smith's stellar performance with a solid double double from Al Horford and a great shooting night from Jamal Crawford and you get the home team cruising in for a win.
For the second consecutive night Larry Drew started the big lineup with Jason Collins at the center position. This did a couple of things to the Nets, one it caused Anthony Morrow to be matched up against Marvin Williams, and two it put Travis Outlaw on Josh Smith. The Hawks took advantage of Smith's match up against Outlaw by taking him down into the post. By the time that Smith got rolling the Nets were pretty much powerless to stop him. Coach Drew had this to say about the move to AJC writer Ken Suguira:
"Most 3’s will not be able to match up against him especially when he posts them. He’s learned to be a pretty good player in the post when I can get him down there, but it does pose a problem for the opposition because they have to make a decision on whether to match up big against him or like last night (against Orlando), they matched up Quentin Richardson and I went right into the post at him and they had to change the matchup."
While Nets center Brook Lopez still had a pretty good game scoring 24 points he was not the factor that he was in New Jersey. If you dig deep into the box score you will notice that Lopez was a team low -24 in +/- stats for the night. Essentially he was able to score but the Hawks took advantage of mismatches and scoring themselves while Lopez was on the floor.
The ball movement that the Hawks have exhibited since Joe Johnson has been out of the lineup has been phenomenal. Tonight they recorded 34 assists on 47 made baskets. Josh Smith led the team with seven assists while Al Horford and Jamal Crawford also had six apiece. That is the motion offense on full display when your forwards are leading the team in dimes.
Special mention needs to be made of Jamal Crawford because I myself have been critical of his play of late. The game is so much easier when shots are going in and Crawford's play last night looked effortless. He racked up 26 points on 11-17 shooting. Essentially he was hitting shots from all angles and that makes the Hawks a much better team if he can keep his hot streak going.
I won't call this a big win but it was a necessary one. The Nets came in struggling although they were rested. The Hawks played a grueling affair in Orlando the night before but were able to get back to Atlanta and take care of business. The win might not be classified as big but a loss would have undone any of the good feelings left over from the Orlando win.
Atlanta will now have a couple of days off before traveling to San Antonio on Friday before returning home on Saturday to face the Pacers in what I would describe as an odd back to back situation.