Quick Thought: You can't tell me that Jeff Teague needs to DNP when healthy.
The offense is still...shaky. But when you can get 27 fast break points to circumvent that particular struggling part of their game...well, simple to say that helps you get to a cozy 51 percent shooting for the night and their best shooting night since they blitzed Detroit nearly a month ago.
The points came from the defensive end, where Portland authored a particularly bad shooting night, much like their effort at their own house against the Hawks.
The Hawks dedicated themselves to pushing the ball on misses, a gameplan allegedly in place for their previous game against Chicago, except against Portland they actually did it.
Of course, there was one key difference between that game and this one: The (44) minutes played by Jeff Teague.
Teague was the difference against the Blazers, using his quick hands to snag (5) steals, his ups to garner (3) blocks and (4) dunks, and using his penetration skills to go 11-17, dish (3) assists, and finish with a game (and career) high (24) points.
Sidenote: It was pleasurable to see Teague beat Andre Miller time and time again. Sort of a cosmic turnabout for Hawks fans who had to watch Mike Bibby get killed like that nightly and still have to endure the "defense" of Jamal Crawford. Also, nice to see Portland go zone and see a Hawk guard actually puncture it to get them out of it.
Well, Teague, obviously. Final line for the night: 24 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 steals, 3 blocks, and 4 dunks. 11-17 from the floor and all of that and all those minutes with a single turnover. Can you seriously say with a straight face that the Hawks wouldn't be any better off with Teague getting regular rotation minutes this season instead of the ridiculously hypocritical chain yanking he's received from Larry Drew this season?
With the Hawks in transition more, it made Damien Wilkins more effective because he got to score closer the basket and a lot less defended. 6-9 from the field, 12 points, 2 assists, a steal and a block in his 26 minutes.
His defense is a mess, but in the second half, Jamal Crawford came alive, scoring every bit of his (20) points after halftime. Every time Portland was poised to cut the lead after the Hawks gained control late in the third quarter, Jamal made a runner, or layup, or one of his pretty (when they're in) three pointers. There was no illusion about him running the point, and it showed with a zero turnover effort and a single assist. No complaints here.
Remarkable that the Hawks took control of the game or won at all given that, before the endgame, they were 2-4 on free throws from the game versus Portland's 21-25 number.
Josh Smith played a good game, taking care of the glass (12 rebounds) as well as moving the ball (6 assists), but he was sure bent on balancing that out by fading away on many of his jump shots (5-12 from the floor, 1-6 on jump shots) or pretending to be a point guard (5 turnovers). Hey, Josh, you're a great finisher, and a sub-par playmaker in transition...Magic Johnson you are not. Pad your stats and your team's advantage by practicing that sometimes it's better to receive than give.
Watching the game before looking at the stats, it seemed Zaza Pachulia got more than (6) rebounds, because he seemed to be all around the missed Portland shots and getting second chances for his own team. I do know for a fact that he was feeling good out there, because he was back to being a guy to hate for the other team, making sure LaMarcus Aldridge was plenty annoyed by the well dressed one today.
Oh, and lest I fail to mention the surreal end of the first quarter, the quarter where the Hawks had 11 points until Joe hit a jumper to make it 13 with thirteen seconds left. Teague then stole the inbounds pass and got fouled, making one of two from the line. Then he harrassed Patty Mills into a turnover and a dunk to make it 14 points. Finally, and most amazingly, Teague stole yet another inbounds pass and hit a three with a second left on the clock. Three steals and six points in 12 seconds flat and the Hawks, instead of being down 18-13 or worse if Portland had done something even remotely positive in those last 13 seconds, led leaving the quarter 19-18.
Finally, watching the SEC tourney this afternoon and who was on the sidelines? Mike Woodson. Woody looked good, but I have to say it was odd to see him without a fashionable suit and tie on or the pre-game warmups. Woodson shows up near the arena and the Hawks win.....naaaaaah, nevermind.