Quick Thought: Jerry Stackhouse, Tracy McGrady, Jannero Pargo and Vladimir Radmanovic -- take a bow, gentlemen.
This game was headed down the same dumper the Golden State game was. Stagnant offense, massive amounts of turnovers and nobody being able to hit from the outside. As soon as Milwaukee emerged from their own fog, they quickly established a double digit lead.
The third quarter had mixed emotions in it for me. On one hand the team was coming back, shooting better and getting back in the game. On the other hand, there were as many turnovers as assists and Brandon Jennings was scoring 15 points in the quarter.
The blame for Jennings outburst I place squarely at the feet of Jeff Teague. Teague consistently let Jennings go by him in order to attempt a risky trail steal. It worked once, but then Jennings went bananas. On one occasion, Teague went for the steal, missed, then never got back to Jennings despite Brandon making his way back behind the three point line where he received a pass and knocked down another three. Senseless decision making on the defensive end for Teague -- and it bought him a fourth quarter on the bench as someone came in who valued staying in front of Jennings more than making the "big play".
The fourth quarter was amazing. The entire second unit, which is really borderline third unit with Joe and Al out, was out there to start the quarter. All but Ivan Johnson was in when the final buzzer sounded, but for all the good reasons.
The Bench Bums rode all the way to snap the tape at the finish line as winners. It doesn't make sense -- don't try to make sense of it. Surely you, like myself, was saying 'ok, time to get some of the starters back in here --they're out of gas' only to see that unit make another shot, get another rebound.
It starts with Pargo, who was out of his mind making shots much like Jennings was in the third quarter and Joe Johnson was in Milwaukee when the Hawks came back up there to win, too. Pargo hit five of nine shots for 11 points, but it wasn't even his best contribution of the night. The defense played on Brandon Jennings, the hustle, just keeping Jennings in front of himself, made a huge difference. Jennings made 10 shots on the night, but only one was in the fourth quarter, where he went 1-5.
It goes through McGrady, who had a memorable 5-6-4 line in the fourth quarter. McGrady had 11 rebounds against the undersized Bucks -- underlining what a missed opportunity it was the previous game against the Warriors, where McGrady barely played despite getting owned on the boards and in particular, Dominic McGuire.
It passes on to Stackhouse, who missed every single three pointer he took (0-4) but turned back the clock for a sweet drive and score with five minutes left in the quarter and knocked down all three of his free throws in the fourth quarter, a nice touch considering this team's collective struggles in that department.
Finally, it lands on Radmanovic, who was sick with a stomach virus and didn't figure to play too much. Well, the Hawks needed him. Again, nobody was making outside shots, so it made sense to launch Vlad to make some of the shots other were bricking.
Radmanovic made two ridiculously challenged and hard three pointers inside of two minutes to go in the game, both times giving the Hawks the lead. So clutch tonight. Nine fourth quarter points.
I know I just pimped the Bench Bums, but I can only give this to Josh Smith. It was all there again tonight, you know, 'those things' . It was 'those things' that was all too present against the Warriors, but tonight showed a more aggressive mentality, good finishes at the hoop and rebounds --- so, so many rebounds.
Smith had 19 rebounds, seemingly sucking in everything around the basket. 15 of those were defensive rebounds. He attacked and scored and then attacked some more. He made four out of five free throws. He made a critical block on Drew Gooden's interesting late, late game shot. 24 points, 19 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks, the first time he has posted that stat line and the list of folks who have done it since 1986 is very impressive.
Nothing beats winning. I thought Drew was coaching a little too easy tonight, going with the bench too long in a too-simplistic cop-out of coaching. But he did bring Smith back when the Bucks had brought it back, and ultimately he was right -- those guys weren't out of gas and they certainly weren't done making big plays. Scoreboard!