There is nothing we are going to nitpick about the Hawks 112-98 victory at home over the Detroit Pistons Saturday night. It was most things folks can hope for as the good guys got out early against a lesser opponent, put them in a deep hole, and never let them out.
(69) First half points on offense
(41) First half points on defense
(32) Fast break points
(58) Points in the paint
(35) Assists on (46) Field goals
(63) percent FG%
The Hawks came out moving with a lot of defensive urgency early on, forcing the Pistons into many one and done scenarios in the 30-12 first quarter that set the course of this game to "win" for Atlanta.
Don't be distracted by the second half which saw the Pistons get the deficit down into the teens again. The Hawks moved the ball with authority, often with quick passes from side to side, getting tremendous shots around the basket, providing everything the Hawks would need to easily keep their opponents at arm's length.
Josh Smith was fantastic with a career high (11) assists against a single turnover, easily the most jaw-dropping of all outcomes in this contest, especially when considering the quality of some of the dimes.
Once again, Smith was used efficiently out of the high post, and on one such assist, Smith threw a timing pattern under the hoop to Joe Johnson, who was coming out from a pick under the basket. Such a small window of opportunity it was that all of us in THHB Viewing Center had to rewind and re-watch multiple times to try to see what Smith was seeing. The whole play was such a blur that slow motion had to be implemented to catch all the action. It still puts quite a smile on the face reliving the action.
On another early basket, the ball went inside to Marvin Williams, who passed out to a wide open Johnson for a three. The play happened in a split second, leaving the Pistons defense helpless to defend Johnson, who ripped the nets for the hoop.
To underscore the share the ball effort, when Al Horford made a shot assisted by Mike Bibby less than (5) minutes into the game, all the Hawks starters had scored and made an assist in the game.
It was everything the Wizards game was not for the Hawks, save for the same winning outcome. They got out early, grabbed the advantage, and made their opponents work double time just to make the game a non-blowout. When the Hawks flex their talented roster on both ends of the court, it has championship potential---and it made us giddy to watch it show.
We know our co-conspirator here, the intrepid Drew, was beaming with pride when the Shrimp Boat himself, Zaza Pachulia, at the 7:01 mark of the second quarter, went BEHIND THE BACK to Joe Smith for a dunk. It was as this point we all were looking for Curly Neal to emerge from the stands to stop the game and give the Georgian his own Globetrotter jersey. We're putting the over/under on how many times Drew watched that play at (10). Bet the under at your own peril.
Admit it, even though we already named Josh Smith the Hawks #1 player of the past decade, you're happy he's locked up for (5) more years after this one in this decade, no? He is capable of some amazing stat lines, but we have to point out his top shelf 11:1 assist to turnover ratio again in the context of his entire line. (18) points, (4) rebounds, (11) assists, (5) steals, (1) block, and 8-14, 2-2 shooting.
Joe Johnson had a classic Johnson line as well: 10-15 shooting for (26) points to go with his (4) rebounds, (5) assists and only (1) turnover as well. As is usually the case with Johnson, we were surprised to see the collection of points Johnson had at the end of this game. He got them outside (2-4 from three), but quite a few inside, and didn't have to grind it out as per usual--allowing us to see how smooth Joe can be when he finishes around the hoop.
Jamal Crawford came out smoking as well, making his first five shots and not missing until the fourth quarter in his 7-8, (17) points/(6) assist effort off the bench.
The Hawks play-by-play line, especially in the first half, show a tremendous amount of layups and dunks--and it must have been a delight to see such a show at the Highlight Factory. If you missed it, enjoy the Highlights: