Atlanta hung in for a long time in this one and after an outstanding third quarter there were thoughts of possibly escaping with a victory. However, it was in that fourth quarter that the Spurs finally found a rhythm offensively and turnovers combined with an apparent leg injury to Josh Smith proved to do the visiting team in.
The Hawks turned the ball over seven times in the fourth quarter and sixteen times for the game. So nearly half of the team's turnovers came in the final period. Winning on the road is hard and executing down the stretch is key against a good team like the Spurs in their building. While there isn't a stat for it but execution is key defensively as well and the Hawks got lost a little during the fourth and San Antonio was able to get some open looks particularly from the corner for three.
Jamal Crawford led the way for the Hawks again in this one with 23 points on 8-18 shooting from the field. He had five assists against only two turnovers but I am going to concur with my fellow Peachtree Hoops writer on this one. Crawford's scoring was on full display in this one but so was his glaring defensive liabilities. I also agree with Jason that the biggest difference in this game and the victory over Orlando was that the Spurs could essentially penetrate the Hawks defense any time they choose to. It is that penetration that forces help defense and it is that help defense that leaves shooters open around the perimeter. It is a problem that isn't new to Atlanta and one that isn't going away anytime soon.
Marvin Williams played a team high 42 minutes scoring 15 points and grabbing seven rebounds. He made some stellar plays and looked awkward on others. It is clear that the knee is still bothering him at times. Al Horford came one rebound shy of a double double with 19 points and nine rebounds. He was limited to 31 minutes of action due to foul trouble. Jsoh Smith finished with a 15 point four rebound five assist night that was cut short due to an apparent leg injury. According to MC, Josh expects to be able to play on Saturday.
He said he tweaked his hamstring on the play but expects to play Saturday vs. the Pacers. "I just didn’t want to be out there hurting my teammates, so I had to come out," he said.
In summary this is a road loss to a very good team where one bad quarter erased the opportunity to steal a victory. It needs to be quickly learned from and forgotten as the Hawks are back at it tonight in Atlanta against the Pacers. With the Eastern Conference Standings beginning to tighten up it is imperative that the Hawks get the ship headed back in the right direction at home.