For a brief period this game looked eerily similar to the Hawks last outing against the Milwaukee Bucks. Atlanta entered the fourth quarter with a healthy 15 point lead only to see it whittled down to five with 4:05 remaining in the game. The Hawks pushed the pace in the first half by crashing the defensive boards and then getting into transition. When not in transition, Atlanta executed its offense by pounding the Knicks in the paint. The Hawks opened the second half by attacking the Knicks in the post with Joe Johnson. During the third the lead grew to as much as 24 points. Then suddenly Atlanta fell into a familiar pattern.
With a 24 point lead the ball suddenly stopped moving and Atlanta wasn't nearly as tenacious on defense. Against a team like the Knicks, that is playing with fire as they are more than accustomed to getting into an offensive shootout. Joe Johnson finished with a very good final line of 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists but was a big part of the reason that the offense became stagnant. Up until midway through the third quarter Atlanta had moved the ball crisply at least until they found the match up they wanted. At that point Atlanta began to force things and the results weren't good.
I will credit them with this that once the lead was cut to just five they slammed the door on the Knicks by going back to what was working execution wise. Larry Drew was so intent on them running an offensive set that he routinely walked to mid floor to get the play call made. Even while saying that, there was a long Josh Smith three pointer mixed in during that run.
As I predicted, Josh was clearly into this game and was a factor on both ends of the floor. His final line of 24 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists looked much better but the 9-13 shooting may have been the best part. He started inside and got some easy baskets in transition and usually after getting in a rhythm that leads to more success from the outside for Smith. He knocked down 2-3 3-point shots including one to push the lead back to eight late in the fourth.
Al Horford continues to just be consistent and every night it seems he turns in remarkable stat line. Horford totaled 19 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assists, and one huge block against Amare Stoudamire coming down the stretch. If he doesn't make the All Star team then they should cancel the event.
The ugly event that happened with 43 seconds left in the game between Marvin Williams and Shawne Williams scarred a rather entertaining game to watch. Both players jockeyed each other coming up the court which led to a two hand push from Marvin which eventually led to the two players exchanging hay-makers. There was an outstanding job done by the Hawks and Knicks benches to keep the reserves off the floor and the melee contained to just the two players. I have never seen that from Marvin before. Even his flagrant foul against Boston in 07 he calmly went to the locker room. There was much talking going on between both teams throughout the game as the microphones court side picked up more audio than I am sure SportSouth would have liked. Whatever was said, it clearly set Marvin off and more than likely a suspension will be coming.
In all it was a great game, the home team won in front of an announced sell out even if Philips Arena wasn't filled with all Hawks fans.