Monday, March 22, 2010

Hawks 119 Spurs 114 (OT)




Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
SA 94.1
55.6 29.6
26.8 13.8
ATL 94.1 1.264 49

Gregg Popovich:
"This was a good one."
Here's the thing: Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan were the two best players on the court. The Hawks couldn't stop the Spurs at all in the first quarter and put up marginal resistance at best for the duration. The Hawks couldn't buy a bucket for the first quarter-and-a-half despite creating far superior shot opportunities than they did against the Bobcats thanks to a relatively relentless commitment to player and ball-movement.

And yet, the Hawks won. They executed down the stretch of both the fourth quarter, scoring on consecutive possessions in the final 90 seconds to erase a four-point San Antonio lead before getting two good (though unsuccessful) looks at a game-winner on the final possession of regulation, and in overtime, scoring on three straight possessions (and rebounding consecutive San Antonio misses) to turn a 111-111 tie at the 1:37 mark into a 117-111 lead with 13.9 seconds left.

The Hawks refused to let the Spurs, as the Bobcats managed Friday night, splinter them. The ball moved and, knowing that the ball would find them were they to get themselves open, the players moved. It was a team effort. With emphasis on both words. To wit...

Marvin Williams took the game over in the second quarter, gaining the Hawks a foothold that looked unlikely to that point and one they would never relinquish. When Williams re-entered the game, the Hawks trailed by 11 with 6:21 left in the first half. Williams proceeded to score 11 points on 5 shots to lead the charge that earned Atlanta a two-point lead at the half.

Al Horford demonstrated his full repetoire: scoring 22 points on 15 shots, grabbing 9 offensive and 9 defensive rebounds, while splitting his time on the defensive end between making Duncan work and doing a better job than any of his teammates of staying in front of Manu Ginobili.

Joe Johnson shot the ball poorly but his shot selection was much improved compared to his return Friday night. His turnaround jumper (after backing down George Hill) to give the Hawks a 113-111 lead in overtime was an especially impressive exhibit of using his skill and size to create the best possible shot. Even more impressive were his 13 assists. Maybe he doesn't get all 13 if this game is played on the road but it's been a while since the offense ran so effectively through Joe Johnson rather than to Joe Johnson. It was only the second time this calendar year that he tallied more than eight assists and just the sixth time the Hawks have won in the thirteen games Johnson has attempted at least 23 shots from the field. Even though they didn't go in frequently, he got himself good shots and he got his teammates better shots.

Jamal Crawford grabbed a crucial defensive rebound after George Hill missed a corner 3 with the Hawks up four and less than 24 seconds left in overtime. Jamal Crawford. Crucial rebound. Truly a feel-good moment.

The second unit didn't get a lot of playing time and they didn't do a tremendous amount but they didn't give up any ground while on the court at the end of the first and the start of the second quarter. Without them accomplishing that modest feat, the comeback is, if not less likely to occur, less likely to be complete. Joe Smith, Zaza Pachulia, and Jeff Teague took four shots between them. They made three. Maurice Evans knocked down a three early in the fourth quarter. Each was valuable.

As a result, the Hawks clinched a playoff spot.

Jamal Crawford:
"I've been wating a long time for this. I'm not going to take this for granted."
Mike Woodson:
"Fantastic, but there's still a lot of work ahead of us before the playoffs. We've got to keep rolling. We'll handle the playoffs once they get here."
Crawford, again:
"We all play off of each other. Whoever is going good, we give it to him. There is no jealousy."
Woodson on Horford:
"Duncan frustrated Al early, then Al picked it up and hit his stride. He had timely baskets and when we needed a rebound he was there."
Woodson on Marvin:
"He needs to not take a backseat to his teammates. t’s not about calling plays. (Shoot), I played 11 years and I got one or two plays called for me."
Though when, with 3:27 left in the fourth and Williams having taken just one shot and two free throws since halftime, the Hawks did run a play for him, he made a strong move into the lane and dropped in a running one-hander.

Tim Duncan:
"I feel we gave this one away. With the stretch that we have, we can't give any away. I think this was a building block because we played well, well enough to win against an elite team, but we just could not get over the hump."
Tom Ziller at FanHouse:
Horford was simply monstrous, finishing with 22 points and 18 rebounds. Nine of those boards came on the offensive end, a leading indicator of how thoroughly Atlanta dominated S.A. on the glass. The Hawks held the Spurs to 11 offensive rebounds in 41 opportunities; meanwhile, Atlanta took a stunning 21 of 51 offensive rebound opportunities. Despite the aging roster, San Antonio is still elite on the defensive glass (4th in the league), just as it has been through the entirety of Tim Duncan's tenure. But Horford caused problems all night.

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