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Hawks 105 Grizzlies 95

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Boxscore

Gameflow

Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
MEM 86 1.10 48.1 27.3 27 10.5
ATL 86 1.22 63.4 21.1 23.1 17.4

It was nice to have Josh Smith back. His value to the team's defense was immediately apparent. Had Memphis not spent the game's first six minutes making several jump shots the Hawks must have been quite content with them taking, the Grizzlies would have struggled to score 30 points.

The second half was a different story, though one written in part by the Hawks nine second-half turnovers rather than being penned solely by a defensive meltdown.

Memphis Off Eff Atlanta TO%
1st Half 0.94 9.7
2nd Half 1.28 20.6

Smith tired visibly towards the end of each of his on-court stints. His 12-game lay-off may have limited him physically in the second half. Memphis did not simply benefit from Atlanta turnovers. The Grizzlies got to the free throw line far more often in the second half (17 FTA) than they did in the first half (7 FTA) and did a much better job of rebounding their own misses.

Memphis OR%
1st Half 19.0
2nd Half 37.5

Memphis's defense kept the Hawks (or at least this Hawks fan) from ever feeling like the game was truly in danger of being lost. Not that watching the Hawks allow a 26-point lead (74-48 with 5:44 left in the third) to become a 6-point lead (88-82 with 6:36 left in the game) filled one with confidence about the team's long-term prospects. You'd like to see the Hawks be able to waltz to victory over a 4-13 opponent at home on a night when Atlanta shoots better than 60% from the floor.

The culprit was the second unit. Maurice Evans had a terrible night (0-7 FGA, 0-5 3PTA), Flip Murray was Flip Murray, and both Acie Law IV and Solomon Jones were thoroughly ineffective.

Player 2nd Half +/-
Evans -14
Murray -11
Law -8
Jones -10

Some bullet points...

Memphis has a lot of talent, but too much of it is redundant (Conley and Lowry and Crittenton, Warrick and Arthur, even OJ Mayo and Rudy Gay are not especially dissimilar offensive players).

  • I don't expect Marc Iavaroni to be long for this job. Memphis's defense was atrocious both in terms of effort and attention to assignments at various points. For a start, the Grizzly players could start to put as much effort into guarding the opposition as they do to assigning each other blame following an opponent's made shot.
  • Apparently Pau is the handsome Gasol brother.
  • Also, Marc Gasol does not draw as large and boisterous Spanish crowd in Atlanta as does Joes Calderon.
  • Mike Bibby played a perfect second half: 6-6 FGA, 4-4 3PTA, 5 assists, 0 turnovers.
  • Joe Johnson wasn't perfect in the second half, but he was much improved over his recent performances: 5-6 FGA, 2-3 3PTA, 2-2 FTA, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 turnover.
  • I didn't notice it while watching the game, but Marvin Williams was +30 in 32 minutes of playing time. Not coincidentally, Rudy Gay needed 18 shots and 4 free throw attempts to score 16 points.

Josh Smith on his return to action:

"I knew I had to do something early just to get myself established in the game. I definitely wanted to start on the defensive end, and being able to come up with that steal off the tip was key.''

Joe Johnson on Josh Smith's return:

"He spreads the floor and then when he gets the rebound he brings it up, and we were able to penetrate and make plays. I think it makes us a tougher team to defend.''

Sekou Smith on the unnecessary second half excitement:

If, and more likely when, the Hawks are jockeying for playoff position months from now, the particulars of their 105-95 victory over the hapless Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night at Philips Arena won’t matter nearly as much.

That they got complacent with a 26-point lead and allowed the Grizzlies to make it a competitive game late — they closed to within six points in the final two minutes — won’t matter.

The reason: The Hawks got what they needed, winning their sixth home game in seven tries this season to improve to 11-6 on the season. And just as they’ve fretted over games squandered early in seasons past, they’ll stack Wednesday’s game in the win column in March or April, a time when all that matters is wins and losses, not early-season style points.

Al Horford:

"I guess we kind of figured they were going to give up. But no team gives up. And every team in this league is capable of coming back. So we kind of had to gather ourselves. We kind of got lucky a few times and made enough stops to pull the game out.”

Zaza Pachulia on this blog's favorite subject for the past six days:

"I’m ready to play every night."

Mike Woodson on the same subject:

"It doesn’t matter who plays on this team. And that’s kind of how we’re trying to build. To worry about that, then we have problems. My job is to make sure that when guys do play, they’re ready to play and they do a job. If not, I have to go to the next guy and try to figure it out. Right now, everybody is on the same page, so the minutes you do get, you have to make it the best supporting minutes that you play.”"

I disagree with the first sentence. The third sentence isn't especially true. The fourth sentence I find disingenuous. As to the fifth sentence, I ask, What are 17 rebounds, 8 offensive in 24 minutes if not "the best supporting minutes you can play?"

Marc Gasol on the Memphis D:

"We're not trusting our system on defense. We don't trust that the next guy will help. We're just not doing the right things and we lose confidence as the game goes on. We should be sorry about how we're looking. We should apologize to our fans and then show them that we're not going to look like the team from a year ago."

Ouch.

Over at Hawks Str8talk, Larry gives Joe Johnson the Str8 Butter Award.

Anybody can ask questions. Heavy Koncak provides answers.

3 Shades of Blue denounces the improbably non-televised nature of the game. With that I concur wholeheartedly.