The Atlanta Hawks jumped out to a big 31-18 first quarter lead and essentially cruised their way to victory. Interestingly enough the Hawks were outscored in quarters 2-4 by the Nets thanks to a high free throw rate and some long distance marksmanship. New Jersey could never close the gap far enough and Joe Johnson slammed the door with four straight free throws in the final moments which was a good thing to see given the Hawks struggles at the line over the first nine games of the season.
Atlanta recorded 10 assists on 14 made field goals in the first quarter on their way to 26 on 42 makes for the game. The ball movement is a beautiful thing to the point where it almost felt that they over passed a little to set up a three point attempt. The ball movement has played a big part in Atlanta's shooting surge over the last two games. All five Hawks starters finished in double figures with Josh Smith, Joe Johnson and Jeff Teague all scoring at least 20.
I thought it was a solid effort that stopped just short of being great. The Hawks did a good job of defending inside particularly clamping down in that key first quarter. The Nets found some room and knocked down half of their three-point attempts including 7-14 after halftime.
How good has Josh Smith been over the last three games? He stuffed the stat sheet once again on Monday night finishing with 26 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals. The only blemish on an otherwise nearly flawless night was 6-11 shooting from the free throw line. Ever since the negative comments were made following last Thursday's loss to Miami, Josh Smith has been the best player on the floor and the Hawks haven't lost a game since.
Teague found the perfect mix in my opinion of aggressiveness and finished with 20 points, four assists and two steals. He had a big third quarter scoring eight points and has become surprisingly accurate from three-point range where he is shooting 47 percent on the season.
Johnson has hit at least half of his shots in the Hawks last two wins while averaging 19 points a game. Prior to those two games, he had only hit at least half of his shots one other time this season. He is also playing a big part in Atlanta's ball movement dishing out 17 assists during the three-game winning streak.
For really the first time in a regulation game this season, Larry Drew decided to ride his starters in the second halfand leave all of the reserves besides Zaza Pachulia on the bench in the second half. Joe Johnson and Jeff Teague played the entire second half against the Nets. Perhaps the fact that the Hawks have a day off on Tuesday played into the decision but it didn't seem like the bench performed that badly in the first half either.