Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Hawks down Grizzlies 93-83 with explosive 2nd half

The Atlanta Hawks have won eight of their last nine games but face a stiff challenge on Saturday when they travel to Memphis to take on the 14-3 Grizzlies.

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Hawks down the Grizzlies with blistering 2nd half

Saturday's game in Memphis started with a feeling out process. No great advantage came out the 1st quarter. The 2nd quarter saw the Grizzlies open a lead behind a rebounding advantage and slight advantage shooting from long distance. The Grizzlies led at halftime 47-41 with that 7 rebound edge, but the real story of the game was yet to come.

The 3rd quarter was the story of the game in 2 distinct chapters. Chapter one was the Hawks turning up the defense and making better passes on the offensive end. During this chapter the Hawks battled back to even at 53-53 and changed the tone of the game. Memphis hit a few shots and regained a 5 point lead at 58-53 when Larry Drew called timeout with 5:05 left in the third. Here begins chapter two. Whatever was said in the timeout needs bronzed or etched on tablets because the Hawks came out of the timeout on 20-2 run the rest of the quarter. A couple layups and a Josh 3 followed by an Al jumper for 2 put the hammer in place. Then it was Lou Williams who slammed the hammer down on the Grizzlies with 3 straight 3 pointers and then a couple of free throws. By the time Darrell Arthur made a jumper the hole was dug deep. Hawks up 73-60 at the end of three with all the momentum.

In the 4th quarter the Grizzlies showed they had no quit and made a run to get within 6, but the Hawks didn't panic. When the game got tight the Hawks used their offensive mismatches that the big lineup created to get solid opportunities down low with either Josh or Al and create open jumpers outside for Lou. The key play that sticks out to me was Josh Smith hitting a wild bank shot while being fouled so hard that his headband turned into a necklace. Josh hit the "and 1" to make the lead 9 again. 3 more minutes of game time passed with the Grizzlies only trimming 2 points off the lead when Lou Williams nailed another 3. On the next play Jeff Teague took the ball from Mike Conley, Jr and completed a layup to make the lead 12. At this point things felt secure. After that solid Hawks defense, offensive rebounding and free throw shooting sealed the deal.

By the end of the game all the expected keys to the game ending up in the Hawks favor. The Grizzlies normal dominance on the boards was bested by Atlanta 44-40 including 14 offensive rebounds. Hawks won points in the paint 42-38. The Hawks took the edge on 3s by shooting 7-17 against 6-16 for Memphis. Even turnovers favored the Hawks 14-16 in the battle between good defensive teams. Fast break points went to the Hawks 15-5. The Grizzlies entered the game 2nd in the league in free throw shooting, but even there it was advantage Hawks by making 18 of 25 versus only 11 of 18 for Memphis. Collectively it was a dominating team win for the Hawks any way you examine it.

Individually there were performances from Hawks to laud as well. Josh Smith lead all scorers with 24 points and also had 8 rebounds and 4 assists. Lou Williams was 4-6 from deep to finish with 21 points. Al Horford won the battle at PF by scoring 19 and collecting 14 rebounds to edge a strong outing by Zack Randolph (18 points and 13 rebounds). Jeff Teague added 13 with 6 assists and 0 turnovers while playing pressure defense on Conley most of the night. Even though Zaza only got 1 point he contributed 9 boards and scraped for everything. In a losing effort, Memphis had great performances from Randolph and Marc Gasol (18 pts and 8 rebounds). Rudy Gay added 17 points and 9 rebounds, but did it on only 28% shooting. Mike Conley, Jr. scored 12 points and got 3 assists but turned the ball over 6 times.

Great effort by the Hawks players to dispatch a tough opponent. Now it's on to Miami for shot at the division lead.

Final - 12.8.2012 1 2 3 4 Total
Atlanta Hawks 21 20 32 20 93
Memphis Grizzlies 22 25 13 23 83

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Halftime Update: Hawks trail the Grizzlies 47-41

The first quarter was like the start of a heavyweight title fight with both teams feeling out each other and no great advantage to be found. Memphis was getting the best on the boards and making the Hawks pay for double teaming on defense. The Hawks meanwhile created open shots and forced enough turnovers to be within one at the end of the period.

The second quarter was marked by a quicker whistle slowing the flow of the play (13 fouls in the 2nd compared to only 5 in the 1st). The Grizzlies opened up a six point advantage behind the strong performances by Marc Gasol (14 pts, 6 rebs) and Zack Randolph (12 pts, 9 rebs). Missed free throws and a struggling night by Rudy Gay (2-11 from the field) have kept it from getting out of hand. The Hawks are paced by Josh Smith and Jeff Teague with 9 points each and Al Horford with 8 points. Ivan Johnson provided 6 points off the bench, but guards Devin Harris and Lou Williams have struggled so far.

The Hawks knew going into the game that the paint would be a battleground and at halftime the edge goes to the Grizzlies. At the same time the Hawks are losing the battle from long distance only hitting 2-6 from 3 point range while Memphis went 4-7. If the Hawks can turn either of these categories to their favor in the 2nd half they have a good chance of closing the 6 point gap and stealing a game on the road against the team with the best record in the league.


Atlanta Hawks Game Thread (Grizzly Edition)

Time for another last minute game thread --- who is in???


Hawks-Grizzlies game day info

The Atlanta Hawks have won eight of their last nine games but face a stiff challenge on Saturday when they travel to Memphis to take on the 14-3 Grizzlies.

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