Now that was a good coaching performance. Mike Woodson kept his best players on the floor, didn't overuse Tyronn Lue or Shelden Williams, and recognized a situation where Salim Stoudamire's offensive ability wouldn't be negated by his defensive limitations.
Certainly Amare Stoudemire's absence made things easier for Woodson and the Hawks. Had he played, foul trouble for the Hawks frontcourt and a diminshed rebounding advantage (The Hawks got 36.2% of possible offensive rebounds and 79.6% of possible defensive rebounds.) would have likely followed. But Stoudemire didn't play and the Hawks, players and head coach both, took advantage.
Player by player...
Josh Smith posted a second consecutive 5x4 though he was both an assist and a steal short of a 5x5 tonight. He can still find opportunities to make help defense seem like a bad idea. He can also strip Steve Nash ("We ran into a team that's more athletic than we are.") on two separate occasions.
Joe Johnson had the best 3-17 shooting night you'll ever see. I only noted a couple of forced shots and both of those came as a result of Johnson getting the ball as the shot clock wound down at the end of a stagnant offensive possession. He took good shots and just missed them. Credit also to Raja Bell's defense.
Marvin Williams was the recipient of many of Johnson's 10 assists. Williams' spacing and shooting are of great benefit to the offense. As of this writing, 82games.com isn't updated through last night's game. I'll look at Williams's year-to-date impact on the offense tomorrow. A cursory look at last night's game, though, shows the Hawks scoring 1.06 points per possession with Williams on the court and 1.08 point per possession with him off the court.
The reason for that: Josh Childress. Williams missed 12 Hawks possessions on which Atlanta scored 13 points. More specifically, Josh Childress scored 13 points on the 12 Hawks possessions Marvin Williams missed. Eight of Childress's 13 points on those possessions were a direct result of his own offensive rebounds. Marvin Williams makes it easier to score on the first try. Josh Childress creates second chances.
Acie Law IV and Al Horford continue to acclimate themselves to the NBA. Neither one looks comfortable yet but both give the impression that they know what they're trying to do. I think they'll figure it out. Horford is already a better-than-average rebounder. Once he begins to make aggressive, instinctive post moves, turnovers will turn into points.
Tyronn Lue, Shelden Williams, and Mario West saw limited minutes but easily outperformed the back end of Phoenix's rotation (Sean Marks, Brian Skinner, and Marcus Banks).
Last but not least, your correspondent sat straight up on the occasion of Salim Stoudamire's 2007-08 debut. It took four minutes and ten seconds for his first shot to go up but that shot went in (natch) and kicked off a ten points (plus two assists) in thirteen minutes (over three stints) barrage. Woodson matched Stoudamire up with Leandro Barabosa for 16 minutes and 23 seconds of Stoudamire's 17 minutes, 36 seconds of playing time. Stoudamire was +7 over that stretch.
The Hawks go to Boston Friday night. Zaza Pachulia hopes to make his debut in that game. If healthy, he'll be useful. The Hawks can't match Boston's frontline talent so they'll have to make up ground with their second unit. Plus, no one wants to see Shelden Williams battling Brian Scalabrine for any significant stretch of time.