Mar 6, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith (5) dunks against Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (24) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
Quick Thought: It really is amazing that the Hawks keep winning, sometimes despite their own efforts.
The Hawks looked great for the first 19 1/2 minutes or so, settled into an occaisionally exceptional executing team and then rode out the fourth quarter like a car out of gas, heading down the road, hoping to make it into the driveway.
Fortunately, at times, the Pacers helped get the Hawks wagon home.
It has to be said that it was the Hawks who looked tired of moving, tired of executing and short of anybody to make anything happen offensively. One might have thought it would be the Pacers, who played a tough game for 2 1/2 quarters themselves the night before against Chicago, who might have not had the energy to come back from as much as 16 (no big deal this year, maybe any year) and endure a battle ug-ly in the fourth quarter, but they did.
This may have been the game that I noticed, painfully, the lack of ballers late in games with Joe Johnson and Al Horford out. When Jannero Pargo makes you feel all warm and fuzzy because he's got the ball late, there's a depth issue.
Josh Smith kept the Hawks on top for three quarters and then a man came in the fourth quarter that looked like Josh and wore his number, but it wasn't the same Josh. Some of it was him standing around, some of it was some kooky desire to make sure that Jerry Stackhouse gets the ball in the post in the fourth quarter but not the guy who had 27 in three quarters. Did you get that? I sure didn't.
The fourth quarter had a flurry of punches from both teams offensively and then, with the Hawks up seven with 5:20 left the Hawks just stopped. The next four shots from the Hawks all came from 22 feet or further, two courtesy of Smith, who looked like he'd been told he'd been embezzled from during his four minutes stay on the bench. The Hawks got one field goal the rest of the way, a second chance jumper by Pargo.
Meanwhile, the Pacers just chipped away, as they had done all game long, and despite 'Nique's claims on more than one occasion that the game was over, it wasn't until Stackhouse and Marvin Williams made the engame free throws and Danny Granger and George Hill missed their desperation threes.
Josh Smith again, because he was so unholy hot for the first 31 or so minutes he was on the floor, scoring all over the place, being aggressive, and the offense flowed through him so successfully. The last eight and a half minutes you can crumble up and toss them in the trash.
First 31 minutes: 27 points, nine rebounds, 12-15 shooting. Last 8 1/2 minutes: 0 points, 0 rebounds, 0-4 shooting, seven children cried.
Jannero Pargo gets a game ball for totally bailing the Hawks out in the fourth quarter with 11 points and being the only player in the backcourt worth a nickel on both ends.
Despite get Hoopinion's Horford Treatment after a couple of quick fouls in the first quarter, Zaza Pachulia was aggressive late, hit free throws when he needed to and pulled down a double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds) in his just-shy-of-30-minute outing. Oh, and he ended with four fouls -- Crisis Averted!
Darren Collison is really struggling. After scoring zero points in 30+ minutes against Chicago, he scores five in 34.4 minutes against the Hawks. Considering how much a difference George Hill makes, it surprising he's not playing more. I was thankful.
David West can score the ball, but everything else was pretty weak tonight. He got scorched by Josh, grabbed three whole rebounds in nearly 35 minutes and looked bad on one of the plays of the night. Jeff Teague came free at the top of the key and headed down the lane. Preferring to stay with his man, Josh Smith, a step away from defending the charging Teague, West looked like he wanted no part of the point guard dunking in the lane. Not a great moment, David. his 10-13 shooting was comprised of many good moments on that end though.
Without Horford and Johnson, and even Willie Green, the Hawks went into the fifth place team in the East's house and won. The Pacers were hyped to make up for their miserable third quarter the night before, when they were outscored 33-13 and lost by 20 as well. Still, the Hawks won. The Hawks won. Amazing.
You have to respect the battling this team does, even when they are shooting themselves in the feet, they keep dragging on to the finish line. Their defense and rebounding were good yet again -- and they did just enough to win. It's impressive.