Here's the best thing to come out of a good win. Stan Van Gundy describes how Mike Bibby got open for the three-pointer that put the Hawks up 6 with 26.1 seconds left:
"That's my fault. I'm going to take the blame on that one. That's a play we went over today, but they run a lot of different things, and they hadn't run that yet in the game, and I didn't recognize it soon enough to alert Chris and Dwight."Emphasis mine.
Sebastian Pruiti breaks down the play at NBA Playbook.
"It’s really big for us."Josh Smith:
"I ain’t even going to lie to you. After losing in the playoffs by like an average of 30 points and playing good enough to win last time but coming up short, we was just determined to get a win here."Al Horford:
"It’s encouraging to see see guys stick with it and keep defending and keep rebounding. It was ugly but we’ll take it.Larry Drew:
We really fully committed to coach’s game plan."
"I thought [Jason Collins] did a great job. We know what he’s about. He can play Dwight straight up. Dwight is going to score, we know that, but we wanted to make him earn it. It took us out of the double teams."Dwight Howard:
"Atlanta is a pretty good team and guys were trying to get back into game shape playing and the rest of guys were playing two tough games on the road and short-handed. I think a lot of guys are exhausted. It was a tough game to lose. It gave Atlanta a little confidence. But we’ll be sure to erase that next time."Game shape? Here's Howard describing his pre-game recovery meal(s):
"I woke up at 1 a.m., and went to eat at the Waffle House. I got home and ate another meal, slept, woke up and ate again. I slept some more, then ate another meal -- nine pieces of chicken, two pork chops, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese. I had ice cream and apple pie for dessert. I had to get right."I don't agree with Stan Van Gundy but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy his assessment of the game:
"It was a bad basketball game and we just played worse than they did."I even empathize a bit with Van Gundy as I'm sure he'd take his chances again with Josh Smith attempting 11 jump shots, or having to score 81 to win.
"You just have those days."Poor Duhon's been having those days for going on eight years now.
I'll let Trey Kerby pile on Duhon:
Apparently the downgrade from Jameer Nelson to Chris Duhon is so great that the Magic can’t even score 75 points when the Raccoon is on the bench. That makes sense, I suppose, since this is Chris Duhon we’re talking about.At Peachtree Hoops, Kris Willis has a more sanguine appraisal of the quality of play, plus some deserved praise for Mike Bibby:
Whether this was bad offense or just good defense by both teams in this one I am not completely sure. What I am sure of is the Hawks made enough plays down the stretch to win this one and Mike Bibby was a huge part of that. Without Nelson on the floor, the Magic were unable to attack Bibby off the dribble which led to him playing a lot (36 minutes) and delivering some crucial daggers down the stretch (3-4 three point attempts +19 for the game).Jason Walker, also at Peachtree Hoops, on the impact of Jameer Nelson's absence:
But the key to the Hawks win was really that the Magic could not take advantage of the Hawks weakness at guarding the perimeter, save for the Carter drives to the hoop. Without Nelson there to draw the Hawks defense in and kick out or score himself, it prevented more open shots and easy feeds/and rebounds for Howard, as the Hawks weren't having to scramble and rotate near as much.At Magic Basketball, Eddy Rivera tackles the same topic from the Orlando perspective:
[I]t’s clear that the offense isn’t the same without Jameer Nelson at the helm, who’s threat to either pass or score makes it tough on opposing defenses to key in on what he’s going to do on any given possession. Duhon isn’t a threat offensively, and that allowed the Hawks to hide Bibby — a defensive sieve — on him.As does Evan Dunlap at Orlando Pinstriped Post:
Normally when Nelson is playing, Bibby doesn’t play 35 minutes as he did against the Magic. Perhaps if Nelson was able to suit up and play, Bibby isn’t on the court when he made those two clutch threes in the fourth quarter. Who knows.
Nights like this make one appreciate what Nelson can do for Orlando's ballclub. Though Chris Duhon played one of his better games of the season filling in for Nelson, the Magic nonetheless had to use Carter to initiate much of their offense, which yielded unimpressive results. Carter wisely looked to attack Atlanta's weak perimeter defenders in the pick-and-roll, but Horford and Smith provided expert help throughout the game. With the outside shots falling off the rim, the passing lanes open only briefly, and Jason Collins blanketing Howard insidde, the Magic struggled to get good shot attempts.At FanHouse, Tim Povtak writes that the Atlanta Hawks are learning to win without Joe Johnson (ignoring that they were 4-3 playing without him the past two seasons):
No one is suggesting that the Atlanta Hawks are better off without Joe Johnson in the lineup, but this really makes you question the wisdom of giving him that six-year, $123 million contract, making him the richest free agent of the past summer.Some of that, of course, occurred with Johnson on the court. Al Horford was outscoring Johnson (per minute, per possession) before Johnson's surgery.
They look pretty good without him now, moving the ball, spreading the wealth, becoming a much-less predictable team.
No word yet on the reason for or seriousness of Marvin Williams's limp or the treatment he appeared to be receiving on the bench in the fourth quarter.