Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Atlanta Hawks 100 Toronto Raptors 87


Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
TOR 84
19.4 10.7
ATL 86 1.163 61.8

With a 12-game losing streak, long-standing institutional weaknesses, two days of travel problems, and Leandro Barbosa's absence all weighing on the Toronto Raptors, the only thing in question was when the Hawks would play defense long enough to put the game away.

The answer: 11:23 to 3:58 of the fourth quarter. The Hawks had allowed 71 points on 65 possessions to the Raptors and were only up 6 after DeMar DeRozan's DeBucket with 11:23 left in the game. Then the 7-minute, 25-second long 19-7 run cured whatever mild concern might have existed for Hawks fans about the game's outcome.

This was not a contest. It was a task. The Hawks were more than up to it. Joe Johnson led the way with 37 points on 21 shots plus 8 assists. Al Horford didn't shoot well (12 points on 13 shots) but brought the rest of his game to the tune of 14 rebounds and 7 assists. Josh Smith's 18 points on 14 shots weren't especially impressive (due to him shooting an unsustainable 5-9 (0-2 on three-pointers) outside of 20 feet) but his 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals were. Mike Bibby and Jamal Crawford chipped in 4 assists each on a night the Hawks assisted on 30 of 42 field goals and individual totals were generally a result of sound team ball movement against a terrible, terrible defensive team.

As he's occasionally wont to do, Larry Drew shortened up the rotation against inferior opposition at home. Mo Evans took advantage of the opposition, Marvin Williams's suspension, and 16 empty minutes from Damien Wilkins to solidify his place in the rotation hierarchy. Zaza Pachulia (again) demonstrated the disposability of Josh Powell and the inessential nature of Jason Collins against teams which do not play through the post. Jeff Teague didn't play especially well in his two stints, but that's going to happen with a young, inexperienced player who gets limited minutes off the bench. Make the minutes regular, live with the variance, and hope he begins to blossom.

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