While enjoying a rare blowout win by the Atlanta Hawks over the Milwaukee Bucks, I couldn't help but wonder if what I was seeing was the result of better offensive execution or simply a matter of long jump shots going in. After all Joe Johnson buried six three-point baskets in the first half and had his best offensive game post All-Star Break. When looking a little closer, it is probably fair to say that the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Atlanta pushed the pace early scoring 10 of their 21 fast break points in the first quarter. The Hawks also finished with 44 points in the paint which is a total that was no doubt helped by the fast break scores.
For one game, Atlanta found the balance between getting easy shots inside and success from the outside. By getting out on the break early and going inside, the Hawks found a rhythm offensively. A rhythm that led them to 63% shooting against a pretty good defensive team in the Bucks. Most of that damage was done by Joe Johnson. As a team, the Hawks finished 11-19 from three-point range with Johnson going 6-9. So to answer my earlier question, yes the jump shots did go in, but Atlanta got themselves going by running early and finding some easy opportunities.
Defensively after a couple of lapses early I thought the Hawks were pretty good, especially during the run late in the first and second quarters. It is important to keep in mind that Milwaukee is far from being a good offensive team so any effort the Hawks gave in defending would probably meet little resistance. That isn't meant to underscore the team's performance tonight it is just meant to add a little perspective. I am not trying to rain on the parade here as it was as a good performance as we have seen in some time from this team but there are still issues. Namely 21 turnovers is still way too many and the Hawks have been turning the ball over with regularity of late. Had the Bucks been able to cash in on those opportunities then this game could have been a lot closer. At any rate the Hawks were too good tonight and the Bucks were never within striking distance again by the end of the first quarter of play.
Joe Johnson was magnificent in this one scoring 36 points in 35 minutes while going 13-19 from the field. He scored inside and outside while at one point making five consecutive three-point attempts.
Josh Smith finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds while Al Horford totaled 15 points and five rebounds. All eyes were on Jeff Teague early and while he didn't have the eye-popping performance he had against Portland finishing with six points on 2-9 shooting. I did think his overall performance was solid as his five rebounds and six assists suggest.
A peculiar game for Jamal Crawford given that he finished with just four points on 1-4 shooting but was still effective with a team high eight assists. Dare I say Jamal actually looked like a point guard in last night's game and was a big beneficiary of Joe Johnson's hot shooting. Credit Jamal for making the extra pass after recognizing that Joe had it going.
Lost in the shuffle was another solid effort by Marvin Williams who finished with 16 points on just 7-9 shooting. I am not sure if Joe Johnson at small forward is the long-term solution for the Hawks but there is no denying that the lineup has produced some good results in the early going. Who am I to mess with success. A red-hot Denver team comes into Philips Arena tonight and provides Atlanta with another test and the opportunity to build more consistency.