Light a Match!
Quick Thought: Second look at 6 years, 123 million?
In the All-NBA battle between Blake Griffin and Josh Smith, Griffin won handily. Griffin pushed and bullied inside, didn't flop, and scored 16 first quarter points, a lot of which came at the expense of Smith, who simply couldn't hold ground against the bigger, stronger Griffin.
But after the Hawks adjusted and begged Blake to shoot jumpers, he made them --- over and over again. Griffin shot 17-23 for a whopping 36 points and was never really stopped throughout the game.
Chris Paul had his fun, too, scorching the Hawks for 34 points and eight assists, likely leaving Hawks GM Rick Sund wondering why his predecessor ever thought about passing on him. It's just a fact, folks, there's no getting over it -- just like trading Nique. It will always be there. Shouldn't have happened.
If you came to this recap and saw that Griffin and Paul scored 70 points between them and 156% shooting, you might've been alright assuming the Hawks lost -- and you'd be wrong.
Jeff Teague, the Hawks bench, Josh Smith and Joe Johnson were the reasons the Hawks pulled it out and stayed in front of things in terms of having home court advantage against Boston in round one of the playoffs.
As the Hawks were hanging on late, Tracy McGrady drove the lane and threw it out to Joe, who calmly knocked it down to give the Hawks a 100-91 lead and seemingly looked over, but it wasn't. The lead shrunk quick to 100-96 and the Hawks were struggling.
Instead of going Iso-Joe, the Hawks ran the PNR with Smith and Teague, which sent Teague down the lane, care-free -- except he missed the layup. Fortunately the ball ended up with Joe Johnson. Unfortunately, he wasn't innately tuned into the shot clock, which hadn't reset because Teague's shot never touched the rim. Joe dribbled with his back to the basket, about 27 feet from the hoop. His eye seemed to just catch the clock, which was about to expire, when all at once he rose up and let the ball fly.
It would be nice to say that the ball went straight in because, doggone it, Joe is just that good, but the truth is the ball went flying towards the hoop and only the backboard saved the Hawks, as the ball caromed off the glass and through the hoop to provide the Hawks a seven point lead, which was sealed by Jeff Teague free throws down the stretch. Ball. Game.
It was Joe's game, as he shot 10-17, scored 28 points and hauled in seven rebounds. His personal 6-9 shooting from three-point land was a huge reason for the win.
Teague was money, too, attacking and scoring, going on a personal seven point Hawk run in the third quarter, after which of course, he was yanked and only to be seen what seems like hours later towards the end of the game, when it was clear the Hawks would have to have the starters come back in and win the game for them, which of course they did.
Josh looked a bit frustrated as when he finally got by the bigger Griffin on offense, there was Deandre Jordan there to deter Josh around the basket. Only Josh following up shots, running the break and his outside shot would get him to his 8-17, 18 point, 10 rebound, five assist night.
Teague had a marvelous block of a Clipper jump shot. The kid closed from way, far away and swatted the jumper into the seats. Very impressive.
The bench came in and scored 20 points in the first half, giving the Hawks the lift they needed to get back past the Clippers. Ivan Johnson was beastly at times, driving home a putback jam at one moment and swatting a Nick Young dunk attempt at another -- strong effort.
Boston beat Miami so that means that the Hawks have to win against Dallas or hope Boston loses if they want to get home court for the Celtics series.