The Hawks began the game how you might expect a road team playing in a Tuesday afternoon game to: slow, disorganized, and somewhat laughable. Sequences featured a driving Elton Brand tripping over his own feet to lose the ball, and, well... the rest was sort of unmemorable-- just an amalgamation of bricks and sloppy passes.
So why start with the negative after such a gutsy win? Because the offensive production only marginally improved throughout the game. It never got THAT much better in Atlanta's 92-91 win. Sure, there were stretches, but sometimes this is just how you have to win, especially in a mid-week game at 1:00 PM. It's not always pretty. But, the Hawks still won thanks to gritty defense and timely scoring runs.
Jeff Teague's pair of free-throws put the Hawks ahead 92-91 with just over a minute to go. Those would be the final points of the night as Atlanta and Boston swapped several consecutive misses, mostly courtesy of the Celtics. Jordan Crawford had three opportunities to win the game in the final minute, but didn't convert any of those chances.
Millsap has undeniably been the cog of Atlanta's offense since Horford went down with a torn pectoral and this game was no exception. Millsap scored 34 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. What stood out most on Tuesday, however, was his aggression attacking the basket. Millsap was relentless, going after Kris Humphries and Brandon Bass at every opportunity, and because of that he got to the line 14 times. He simply wouldn't be stopped.
The Hawks trailed by as many as 18 points in the second quarter, but Cartier Martin provided an offensive spark and connected on Atlanta's first two three-pointers of the night, which ignited some sort of spark in the offense. The third and early fourth quarter saw Boston's lead once again balloon to double digits, but Kyle Korver and Millsap helped seal the game.
Kyle, that was close!
The Hawks' sharpshooter almost saw his record streak come to an end. He hadn't made a three-pointer going into the fourth quarter and he didn't hit one until around the six-minute mark. But, of course, in classic Korver fashion, the three was incredibly timely and was a four-point play. The streak continues.
Phil Pressey will be a legit NBA player
Look, I'm an unabashedly crazy and biased Mizzou fan, but I had discussion with some other bloggers at Sloan last year (one of which was also a Mizzou fan) about Pressey's pro prospects. I've been on the Pressey train the whole time, even after last year's semi-disaster of a season at Missouri (depends on how you look at it, really. He was still pretty good). He's got NBA speed and incredible court vision. The other bloggers' argument was that his shot selection would be the ultimate hindrance, but on a team where he isn't the team's best player like he was at Missouri, that doesn't seem to be an issue. He doesn't have the same free reign with the offense he did in college. There's a leash. He was huge for Boston in the second quarter and I continue to believe he'll make a good back-up point guard in this league.
They're sort of few and far between these days. He didn't play badly, but was just sort of out there. Sometimes it just takes time to develop, and with him, I think it's a speed-of-game issue; it's all coming to fast right now. As he adds weight and continues to gain in-game experience, I think we'll see some visible improvement this year. Granted, at this point, that would just be a really good 6-7 minute stretch.
Paul Millsap is a beast
With Horford out for the foreseeable future, Millsap is the go-to guy. He's obliged so far. He dropped 33 on Charlotte and poured in 34 tonight.
On Jordan Crawford:
I know he's having a renaissance year compared to some previous disaster seasons, but tonight wasn't his night. 3-15 and some pretty ugly shots. He did sink a ridiculous leaner over Millsap late, but once the Hawks pulled ahead for good Crawford couldn't get a clean look.
Cariter Martin's mixed bag
Martin gave Atlanta some good minutes tonight. Sloppy, sure, but important, I thought. His two threes in the first half were huge in cutting Boston's lead. He may have had some turnovers, but he was the kick-starter today, I thought. With DeMarre being day-to-day, Martin needs to give Atlanta productive minutes every game.