Atlanta for the most part picked right back up where they left off in the first half by suffering an 85-82 home loss to the Golden State Warriors. This is the same Warriors club that was blown out in Indiana on Tuesday and the Hawks looked like they spent much of the first half waiting for Golden State to go away. By the time Atlanta tried to assert itself the hole to climb out of was too large thanks to plays by Monta Ellis and David Lee down the stretch.
The Hawks did themselves no favors in this game at the free throw line where they made just 16 of 26 attempts. In a three point loss that is critical by itself and to think that if they had been better at the line then they would have likely found a way to pull out this game despite their first half showing.
After grabbing an early lead, Atlanta began digging itself a hole as soon as the Warriors switched to a zone defense and tempted the Hawks into taking long jump shots. The Hawks kept settling and the Warriors kept rebounding the misses piling up a 33-18 advantage in the first half. The one and done shots on the offensive end didn't exactly ignite the Warriors fast break in the first half but it did put Atlanta back on its heals as David Lee was able to find a rhythm early and turned in a solid performance overall.
When Atlanta did make a trip into the paint they were met with resistance at the rim as they failed to convert in the paint. The Hawks were 10-26 in the paint in the first half and 11-27 in the second. The Warriors built a 48-38 lead at the half with Atlanta hitting just 32.6 percent of its shots in the first half.
The Hawks quickly cut into the lead in the third quarter as Joe Johnson finally shook loose for 12 points in the quarter on 5-8 shooting. Johnson was just 1-8 for six points in the first half and missed his last seven shots. Atlanta cut the lead to 58-56 on a Jeff Teague three-point play but the Warriors were able to keep them at arms length and closed the quarter with a 64-61 lead.
The fourth quarter was more of the same with Atlanta finally tying things up at 78-78 on a Zaza Pachulia put back with just 52 seconds remaining. David Lee quickly put the Warriors back up 80-78 with a drive of his own with 30.1 remaining prompting an Atlanta time out.
Coming out of the time out, Atlanta opted for a guard to guard pick and pop with Joe Johnson and Jeff Teague. The Warriors trapped Johnson forcing a pass to Teague who was wide open at the top of the key but passed up the three to swing the ball to Josh Smith on the wing. Smith kicked it back to Teague who missed a runner in the lane. Teague was 2-4 from three-point range to that point with all of the attempts coming in that area of the court. However, with the game on the line he hesitated and the Hawks really didn't get another good chance to tie or take the lead. The Warriors closed the game out at the free throw line to win 85-82 after Josh Smith's 60+ foot heave at the buzzer came up way short.
For Atlanta, Joe Johnson led the way with 18 points on 6-17 shooting. He attempted only one shot in the fourth quarter and admitted to Michael Cunningham after the game that his knee stiffened late. Although the Warriors were intent on getting the ball out of Johnson's hands which brings us to Josh Smith.
The box score may show a double-double for Smith with 14 points and 10 rebounds but his 5-20 shooting tells the story. I won't rake on him too hard because he has carried the team at times this season but he clearly lost his matchup with David Lee Wednesday night and looked content to hang out on the perimeter and fire away while hoping one would fall in.
Jeff Teague finished with 15 points and four assists but once again deferred at crunch time. Zaza Pachulia had a tough time finishing at the rim but made up for it with his tenacity finishing with 13 points and 16 rebounds to go along with three assists. Marvin Williams was active at least even if he suddenly can't make a shot. Williams finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds despite going 5-15 from the field.
Before the game, Mark Jackson decided to insert the 6-foot-9 Dominic McGuire into the starting lineup and the move was solid given Joe Johnson's frequent domination of smaller guards. McGuire didn't score in just under 36 minutes of action but grabbed 15 rebounds and made things tough for Johnson and Marvin Williams defensively throughout the game.
- Tracy McGrady played 6:34 in the first half and did not return for the second. He didn't play in the first quarter but checked in to start the second and was actually on the court with Marvin Williams who was at the power forward slot. McGrady was 0-2 from the field and 1-4 from the free throw line during his stint.
- Willie Green left the game in the second half with tightness in his lower back.
- Vladimir Radmanovic missed the game with a stomach ailment.
- Erick Dampier was not with the team Wednesday night after his 10-day contract expired. Atlanta must now either resign him for the remainder of the season or let him go. Rumor has it that Dampier could sign a new contract for the remainder of the season as soon as Thursday.
- Center Jason Collins hopes to begin rehab on his injured elbow Friday.
- Atlanta has now lost nine of its last 13 games to fall to 20-15 and 2.5 games behind Orlando and 7.5 games behind Miami in the Southeast division.