Hawks vs. Hornets Final Score: Hawks 94, Hornets 72

Quick Thought: Jeff Teague: NBA's Most Improved Player

Deep(er) Thoughts:

The Hawks made a point to get out early and try and get the moribund Hornets to quit early on. It almost worked, except Larry Drew showed his hand too early and put Jason Collins in the game after Zaza Pachulia got waylaid by an errant Hornet elbow, Mutombo-style.

Spurious correlation or not, the Hornets slowly crept back into the game, especially when Jeff Teague hit the bench and the Hawks entered the "can Joe Johnson keep us out in front by hitting ridiculously tough shots" phase of the game.

The once 21-point first quarter lead got whittled down to five at one point, but once the third quarter began and the Hawks pressed back down on the acceleratrix, the lead again ballooned, Teague proved himself invaluable to what this team is doing this season, and the Hawks had the second teamers in for the fourth quarter to finish out the game.

Game Balls:

Jeff Teague! Teague was in the middle of the two largest Hawks runs, 27-6 in the first quarter and 20-2 in the third, and it’s no coincidence they ended close to or exactly when he left. Teague was 9-11, 24 points, 4 assists, 4-4 from threes, a steal and a single turnover. Oh yeah, he was huge and without his offense, I don’t think it goes down the same way, even against a terrible offensive team like New Orleans.

Can you give a game ball to someone who so thoroughly missed a signature play of the game by clanking a transition alley-oop? Yup, that’s what I’m doing for Marvin Williams. Williams was money again from long range, making three of four of his shots from out there. 14 points, 3 assists, 3 steals, no turnovers – nice, nice game.

How can you deny the most unconscious shooter since – well, it seems like there is always a one-dimensional shot-jacker on the team, isn’t there. Willie Green has more than filled the shot-jacker part of it including Sunday night, shooting 11 times in 17 minutes. When it’s going in, much like Jamal Crawford and Flip Murray before him, it’s quite fun. Green made six of those 11 attempts, including a parking lot special at the end of the third quarter. Don’t look for anything else in the box score, you won’t find it, but 16 lead stretching points were a good fit tonight.

Afterthoughts:

Teams have not gotten the memo on Williams’ acumen this year from out there. Will he be able to adjust if the opposition does as well? He struggled, at times, in previous seasons getting into the lane and creating his own shot. At one time he had a good foul rate – if teams starting jumping the three, I hope we’ll see Marvin show and go to the hoop to score or get to the line.

Said you wouldn’t see much more in the box score from Willie Green and I stick to that a paragraph later, but he did unleash his inner Mario West on a shot that went down. Green ran the lane to follow up and lifted off to what seemed like Flubberesque heights. Very nice.

The Hawks had eight blocks tonight including two from Zaza Pachulia and one from Jason Collins. For shame, New Orleans, for shame.

10 steals for the Hawks, too --- including one for Jason Collins. Double shame, New Orleans, double dog shame.

Some serious anti-Ivan calls going on out there. You have to like potentially having two of the least popular players in opposing arenas in Zaza and Ivan Johnson.

There was a seriously nice lob pass between Kirk Hinrich and Tracy McGrady where the latter went up the ladder like it was 2003. Go find it. Post it. Love it.

Josh Smith, Joe Johnson, and Pachulia kept the rebounding in line, even if they didn’t exactly tear it up offensively. The three of them combined for a woeful 8-28 from the field and this game was still never in doubt. Triple shame, New Orleans? I mean, I don’t want to pile on too much, but I mean, you know …

Final Thought:

After the Hawks showed up and started to spank the Hornets, there was never much doubt about the game, even when the lead was cut to five. It’s a nice change in mentality for a Hawks fan from previous season and even after the Detroit game. This Hawks team is proving many, many NBA watchers wrong, wrong, wrong.

For more on the Atlanta Hawks check out SB Nation Atlanta, follow Jason Walker and Kris Willis, along with Peachtree Hoops on Twitter and check out the Peachtree Hoops Facebook Fan Page.

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