"I thought we did a good job of that tonight. Our first couple wins against Indiana, we did the exact same thing, just went to some of the matchup problems, and if they didn’t come down, we scored. If they did, we got the ball out and made them pay."
Coach Larry Drew said that Smith worked on his free-throw shooting over the summer and noted that he tweaked his technique. This season, Smith is raising the ball from the side of his head, whereas last season he shot from in front of his face. Smith also has created a better shooting base with his legs.
This has been a huge part of Smith's improvement this season thus far.
The Hawks' recipe for success was simple. They got the ball to a player in an advantageous position quickly. The player attacked the mis-match immediately. Often, this created a good shot. Even if it did not, it forced the other four Indiana defenders to react and opened up passing lanes.
In the quarter, the Hawks outscored Indiana 29-18 despite shooting 36.0 percent from the floor. Eight of their nine baskets were assisted. Forward Josh Smith scored 14 points in the quarter, part of a 27-point, 10-rebound, six-assist night. The Hawks repeatedly went to him when he was defended by Tyler Hansbrough.
While Jim O'Brien threw his adjusted playing rotation at the Hawks it didn't appear there were any other adjustments for their third meeting this year. I was surprised that Josh McRoberts took his turn on the inactive list tonight since he is one player on the roster who enough athleticism to try to challenge Smith. But in the end, with the firepower of Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford combining with Smith, that's a good team that plays great against the Pacers.
Some other stuff happened that I won’t get into because, really, the only worthwhile takeaway from this game was a nice and hopefully confidence-boosting stretch played by Paul George to start the fourth quarter. He hit his first three jumpers, the second being a step-back 21-footer that came on the subsequent possession after he knocked down a shot off an out-of-bounds play. Not long after, he spent a defensive possession playing tough, aggressive, physical defense on Joe Johnson.
I included this quote about Pacers rookie Paul George because after watching him during summer league I had wrote in my notes that I wanted to get an up close and personal look at him. I thought he did pretty well and I thought that it was significant that when it appeared that Jim O'Brien was not happy with his team's defense, he left George on the court for a pretty long stretch in the second half.
The biggest thing we will take from this game is not only how tough a match-up the Hawks are for the Pacers but how good of a job the Hawks have done in attacking those mismatches. In the past the mismatches have been there from time to time but Atlanta has not always been able to take advantage.