It wasn't pretty but the Hawks got the job done overcoming the efforts of the Crawford boys, guard Jordan and referee Joey. Jordan Crawford had one of his best career games with his second triple double (27 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists) but when the game was on the line DeShawn Stevenson ("I'm not even supposed to be here today") made life rough on him and no one else for the Wizards could step up to close. Joey Crawford really didn't impact the outcome, but as is usual for a game he officiates there are plenty of head scratching calls each way. The big play for the Hawks came with a 3 point lead in OT, Josh Smith blocked Nene from behind to ice the game. It was Josh's 5th block of the night to go with 3 steals, 17 points, and 13 rebounds in a prolific performance.
The game started quickly for the Hawks running out to a 10-2 lead. The rest of the first half was marred by weak defense and sluggish play, but the Hawks held a 6 point halftime advantage. The story of the second was Jordan Crawford's explosion and the Wizards offensive rebounding. There were several trips that where the Wizards finally scored on their 3rd or 4th extended possession. It gave them the lead for awhile, but credit the Hawks for toughening up and turning the tide on the rebounds to even up the score. The Hawks had the final shot of regulation with a chance to end it, but Jeff Teague seemed to start the play a little too late ending in a charge. On the bright side it left the Wizards with little chance to score after the offensive foul.
Looking at the individual performances for the Hawks the scoring load was carried by Louis Williams with 24 points. It wasn't Lou's most efficient night shooting 6-18, but he did make 10-11 from the line. Kyle Korver added 16 on 5-6 shooting (3-4 from deep). Jeff Teague put in 13 points and had 6 assists as well. Al Horford had a rough night offensively with only 4 points on 2-11 shooting, but he provided 11 boards and good defense in 44 total minutes.
The Hawks bench was used lightly tonight, but everyone contributed in their time. Ivan Johnson provided some early offense but didn't do much after needing 4-5 stitches to close a cut on his hand. Zaza Pachulia couldn't get his offense going but did get 5 boards and a couple steals. Anthony Tolliver got some minutes while Ivan was getting medical attention and hit a couple shots. Devin Harris started and was playing well with 8 early points but a foot injury kept him out the rest of the evening.
For me the big story of the game was DeShawn Stevenson. Due to his age and his knees, DeShawn normally gets to rest in back-to-back games. Since the Hawks face the Thunder tomorrow, DeShawn's defense was being saved for that game. However the combination of injuries, fouls, and not feeling the rookie John Jenkins was ready for such a tight contest caused Larry Drew to throw the resting strategy out the window for DeShawn Stevenson. Coming in late in the game DeShawn provided 3 key baskets including a 3 pointer and 5 boards. He also turned up the heat on Jordan Crawford making life rough for him when the game was on the line.
Give the Wizards credit they played the Hawks very tough and the Hawks had to earn the win. Besides Crawford, Nene had an outstanding night of 18 points on 5-7 shooting and 8-10 FT. Journeyman C Earl Barron contributed 14 rebounds and 4 blocks and even added a few points after missing his first 8 shots. Bradley Beal had 17 points but most of them came in the first half and he was truly never the same after an ill-advised attempted dunk on Josh Smith left him crashing to the ground as the block of his shot devastated his balance.
Quick turnaround for the Hawks as they host the league leading Thunder Wednesday in Atlanta. They should sleep soundly though as the Wizards really made them work.
For more coverage: Bullets Forever
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