The biggest fear among Hawks fans was that the Hawks, without top scorer Joe Johnson, would take the 7-59 New Jersey Nets too lightly in a building in which they had lost (5) straight dating back to 2007.
Early on, it seemed a legit concern, as the Nets boarded well, taking a 16-11 advantage over the Hawks in that category, and had negotiated a square deal with the Hawks at (22) apiece through the opening quarter.
And then, suddenly, Jamal happened.
Jamal Crawford, who missed his first (5) shots, found the perfect wave and rode it---making (7) in a row to end the half with (16) points, with all but one in the second quarter.
Oh, and did we mention that he wrapped that exquisite shooting display with another ho-hum buzzer beater from (29) feet? Yahtzee, chumps!
That streak by Crawford helped the Hawks score (33) points in that decisive second quarter and take a (17) point lead into halftime--a lead that would never again dip into single digits on the way to a 108-84 win in New Jersey.
The Nets were without Devin Harris, which helped in a way that an opponent can be helped when there are (4) players on that roster who are starter worthy at this time and two (Yi Jianlian also missed the game) were out for this contest.
Josh Boone and Brook Lopez have game and showed it to the Hawks; Boone on the glass where he accumulated (20) on the night, and Lopez with his shooting touch, demonstrating a deft shot from 20 feet and good moves inside, ending the night with (21) points.
The Hawks big men did enough, especially Al Horford, who filled in the spaces of the box score quite well with a 15/11/7 line. If the game had been more in doubt, Horford might have had a chance to mess around and get a triple-double. Then again, if the game had been more in doubt, they wouldn't have been playing the Nets--and the stats harder to come by.
Josh Smith had a check-in/check-out game---sometimes there, sometimes not. Coming off his 11 assist, 1 turnover game against DET, Smith immediately threw a pass away on a really tough angle to Jeff Teague on the Hawks' third possession. He jogged a bit early on with defense, got lost under the boards a couple of times, and generally looked disinterested. Then, he would snap back into place, get a steal and run the floor, and get an easy hoop. His block coming around a screen on a jump shooting Jarvis Hayes was classic Smoove. That he caught the block, gathered himself and beat Keyon Dooling down the court to get to the free throw line was something not many guys can do in the league. Competes with Jamal's buzzer beater for play of the game.
Speaking of Teague, getting his first start, he looked unsure of himself. A lot of folks were pulling for him to do well, but he looked pretty nervous out there. He was the only starter to post a negative +/- (-4) and shot 2-7, with one assist in his (19:30) on the court. There will be better days for Teague, who still got to show his terrific hops on a late game slam and quick hands getting a steal--though those hands also helped him pick up a pair of backcourt fouls.
"Magic" Pachulia was at in again late in this game---flipping a hip pass to a cutting Joe Smith, who was playing in his 1000th game. Thought he never played up to #! pick status--one thousand games and still giving good value for his minutes deserves some respect.
Mo Evans' stat line won't tell the story---but was an unsung hero in this game; playing energetic, aggressive ball and going hard to the basket. Problem was, he wasn't finishing much in there (3-10 on the game) and wasn't getting any calls to help the cause--despite the presence of a lot of contact when Evans entered the paint. He's not supposed to get superstar calls, but he wasn't even getting super-good-guy calls, either. At least we salute you, Mo--nice work.
Every healthy Hawks played, including about 4 1/2 minutes of the Randolph Morris/Jason Collins Power Hour. As we watched the Hawks empty the bench when the lead was safely in the twenties with a few minutes left, we had to ask what Bobby Simmons and Tony Battie said to Kiki Vandeweghe to not be able to get into this game. Chris Quinn played for crying out loud.
Mike Bibby's line at shooting guard looked like his line every night this year at point guard.
Back to Crawford to wrap this up---he scored a game high (25) points and provided a red-hot shooting stiff arm to the Nets. Admit it, when there is .0000245336 seconds left, you want Jamal Crawford attempting the (30) pointer from the luxury boxes to win, don't you?
Thought so---enjoy the highlights: