Auditions are now over as the Atlanta Hawks closed out their preseason slate with a 92-75 win over the Charlotte Bobcats Thursday night at Philips Arena. Atlanta held staring point guard Jeff Teague out of the game due to a sprained ankle that he suffered in Wednesday's practice. By all accounts, he is expected to be ready to go on Tuesday when the Hawks open their regular season schedule.
Here are some thoughts from Thursday night's preseason finale:
- Atlanta outscored Charlotte 22-12 in the third quarter to finally put some distance between themselves and the Bobcats. The Hawks actually came up with a pretty good defensive effort in the game getting 10 steals and forcing 20 Bobcats turnovers. The Hawks completely destroyed the Bobcats on the boards by a 50-30 count.
- Josh Smith looks like he is poised for a big season finishing with 21 points and six rebounds. Smith was 10-15 from the floor. After shedding pounds during the offseason, Smith has used his added quickness to his advantage and routinely finished the break for the Hawks Thursday night or snuck inside for some timely offensive put backs.
- Joe Johnson hasn't shot the ball well in either of the preseason games but his overall game has looked well. Johnson finished with 12 points, three rebounds and five assists on Thursday night and was also a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line despite going just 3-11 from the field.
- Veterans Tracy McGrady and Jerry Stackhouse had another lackluster performance off the bench for the Hawks. The two combined to score six points on 0-7 shooting from the floor and Corey Maggette wasted little time taking it too McGrady in the post during the first half. I am not too worried about McGrady just yet but the Hawks have to hope that he can contribute something once the regular season starts.
- I actually like what I have seen from Donald Sloan who got the start for the Hawks in Jeff Teague's absence Thursday. Sloan finished with five points and three assists in just over 25 minutes. He finished the game with zero turnovers and had a nice dunk in the game. His defense still needs some work but his speed and quickness suggests that he can be a pretty good on the ball defender. I am not sure what his roster prospects are now that the Hawks have added Jannero Pargo and Willie Green to the roster.
- Which leads us to Ivan Johnson who has had the best preseason of any of the camp invites. Johnson finished with 15 points and seven rebounds Thursday night and got the Philips Arena crowd behind him with his play. He is a little undersized for the power forward position but makes up for that with strength and a good motor. Johnson is still a long shot but he has clearly stated his case that he needs to be a part of the final roster.