Initial Reaction: Hawks 111, Knicks 102

Quick Thought:  Anytime you can send those Knicks fans "home" from Philips Arena unhappy, it's a good night.

Summary:

The Hawks played a steady, methodical game against New York, intent on attacking the paint and punishing their guests with what Atlanta has over the Knicks, strength inside. Joe Johnson took the ball time and again and scored making 34 points on 50 percent shooting.

Josh Smith did a good job of eschewing the jump shot early on and also abusing players like Shawne Williams, who was pitiful in matching up in the block against Smoove leading to, at one point, back to back trips to the free throw line for Josh.

The Hawks relentlessly pounded and built a 24 point lead at a point in the third quarter. But the Knicks were just as relentless, and efficient, in getting baskets...and they got them quickly, too. Soon the 24 point lead was down to 15, and then 6, and that's when the Hawks felt the energy of the fans in the arena, theirs and New York's, and the game got intense.

Al Horford was gesturing to the crowd...before missing a key free throw. Josh Smith hit a big three and then bungled the Bibster "dance". Then Joe scored the Hawks last six points and the game was over.

The Knicks did a good job of scoring in the second half, and scoring quick, but in the end they never could consistently stop Atlanta when they wanted to go inside and score, and that sunk the spirited Knicks and their "visiting" crowd.

The Stars:

Joe Johnson took advantage of whoever the Knicks put on him...Raymond Felton, Toney Douglas, Landry Fields...heck, they even tried Danilo Gallinari on him, but the best defense was leaving him open for three, where he was only 2-5 for the night. Otherwise, Johnson shot 11-21, scoring his 34 and adding 8 boards and 7 assists. The ball was in Joe's hands every time down the court in the fourth, and while the team scored better when the ball moved, it was good that it was moving and Joe was a part of it, because they had a hard, hard time guarding him.

He had his usual ho-hum, 19 points on 12 shots night, with 14 rebounds and 6 assists tossed in. Is there any doubt that Al Horford is an All-Star? Despite not getting 21 shots like Amare Stoudemire, Horford outplayed him across the board. Put Horford in an offense that averages more than 90 possessions a game and see what kind of numbers he might put up nightly. Once again, Horford was boss in crunch time...scoring 5, grabbing 2 rebounds, and mixing in an assist and block. 

Josh Smith scored 24 on 13 shots, had a 9 rebounds night, and a sweet block on Gallinari when he tried to dunk. Smith took the ball inside better tonight and while he botched the Bibster dance, it came after a big three to give the Hawks breathing room late in the fourth. 

Also:

I watched a few times and I still can't figure what got under Marvin Williams' skin that he decided it was time to throw down on Shawne Williams. Too many Williams' on the court? Both were tossed after fists flew, and Marvin will almost certainly get suspended as a result of this "fight".

There was a bit of pushing and casual cheap-shot-like slapping, but nothing that screamed, "Screw it, that enough, let's get ejected!" 

Gallinari is on my Sabonis list for players that, while they don't have to, like to try and do things to get fouls called on players. He is apparently unsatisfied with the long lasting tradition of flopping, he likes to go to both the leg kick-out when shooting threes (obvious), and the Karl Malone leg-in-yo-chest move when going to the hoop (not even close). Gallinari doesn't need such Bob Sura like chicanery to score, but did it anyway...tsk tsk.

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