Happy MLK Day!
There aren't many deep thoughts here -- the Hawks, even without Horford are still a higher caliber team than the Raptors without Andres Bargnani. The Hawks used their superior athleticism and talent to get to the line more and force the Raptors into a low shooting percentage.
The guys got started slow very early on, but recovered to take a commanding lead before even the first quarter was over and the Hawks never relinquished the lead.
Josh Smith led the way early on with 12 first quarter points and Joe Johnson had eight -- a sign of things to come in the game for the Hawks, who relied heavily on their two remaining all-star caliber players to get the win.
Joe Johnson had three blocks for the first time in a game since he had four on 2/22/2006 against Seattle It was the.fifth time in his career and second as a Hawk.
Joe also helped keep down DeMar DeRozen, holding him to a 5-17 shooting night in a game that Toronto needed desperately for someone like DeRozen to step up in the absence of Andres Bargnani, who did not play with his calf injury.
We've noted it before, but this is the first time this year. Marvin Williams is the king --- of having rebounds glance off his hands or just simply not able to secure the board when it gets into his hands. He had at least two of those tonight -- always comical how it happens. There needs to be a hot key at the arena that can sounds off when this occurs.
Josh Smith has been fantastic lately, and it speaks to all the times when we lament when he doesn't add any flavor to his jump shot variety pack. Since Horford's absence, Josh has clearly stepped up and it only partially relates to making more of those infamous jumpers. 15 rebounds, 12 of them defensive, is exactly what the team needs with Horford out.
When Josh wasn't hot, it was Joe Johnson picking up the slack. Johnson's 27/5/6 line, coupled with Josh's line, is what made the win happen for the Hawks. Between the two of them, they made 22 of the Hawks 32 field goals.
The Hawks are proving that they can still beat the lower tier teams in the East, even without Horford. And I would bet on seeing Josh Smith playing All-Star basketball in Orlando if his production keeps up and the Hawks keep winning without Big Al.