"Zaza was playing super, super well. I was not going to take him out of the game. He was doing a great job. He was a presence in there, he was rebounding, he was going after loose balls. He was doing a lot of big man things. We got into a rhythm when he came into a game and I did not want to break that rhythm."Doc Rivers:
"I thought Zaza Pachulia was the toughest dude on the floor and changed the whole game. He was banging everybody, getting offensive rebounds, and I thought that was a great move by them."Josh Smith:
"Zaza was playing his ass off. You have got to reward a man by putting your trust in him so that’s what I did. I was one of the biggest cheerleaders over there. Individual accolades don’t mean anything as long as we win as a team and play consistently that’s all that matters."Al Horford on the Celtics and Pachulia:
"They can be very arrogant sometimes. I think they have come at ‘Z’ the wrong way and it’s fired him up. ‘Z’ is not going to back down from anyone. For some reason they think they can come at him. ‘Z’ is a good player and I am very proud that he came out and showed what he can do."Zaza Pachulia:
"We learned. Maybe it was late, but it always good to figure out something."Drew:
"Clearly our defense was the staple tonight. When you stay within striking distance at home, all you are looking for is to get on a little of a roll, a little run and gain some momentum. We did that when and Jamal came in the game and energized us when we were flat."Horford:
"Third quarter it could have gone either way. Guys really stayed together, we took it a play at a time and we didn’t get discouraged. Instead of hanging our heads we focused more on defense. That’s a good sign. We are starting to figure it out."Smith:
"We answered the bell and guys really stepped up and I’m just really proud of my teammates. Even thought shots were not falling we are playing stingy on the defensive end. We are not scoring, they are not scoring. That’s what we need to do with get consistent wins."Drew:
"I made a conscience effort in second half to put the ball in Joe’s hand as much as we could. I thought the guys responded to that."I think they had to, coach.
John Hollinger reinforces that, for the second straight game, Larry Drew's decisions worked more often than not:
Rookie coach Larry Drew has taken a lot of heat for his stewardship of the Atlanta Hawks this season, but for the second straight game he had all the right answers as the Hawks beat an Eastern Conference contender.Mark Bradley on Boston losing:
After using Jason Collins to stymie Orlando's Dwight Howard on Wednesday, Drew shifted gears and didn't play Collins a minute tonight -- instead using 7-footer Zaza Pachulia extensively as the Hawks rallied from 12 points down to top Boston 88-83.
Pachulia played the entire fourth quarter while a struggling Josh Smith cooled his heels on the bench, and the move allowed the Hawks to pound Boston into submission on the glass. He scored 15 points and added 10 rebounds, including five on the offensive boards, as the Hawks enjoyed a 14-3 edge in offensive rebounds and an 18-2 edge in second-chance points.
The Hawks caught a break in scheduling, getting the aged Celtics one night after the Green People played (and won) in San Antonio. “We got in a 4 o’clock,” said Rivers, who looked as if sleep had come grudgingly if at all.Bradley on the Hawks winning:
The game was no classic. The Hawks fell behind by eight at the half, by 12 in the third quarter. And here you thought, “They’re doing it again.” But they didn’t. They rode the will of Zaza and a cluster of misses by the Celtics’ Glen Davis to a five-point victory. It was a game that meant far more to the Hawks, and to their credit they grabbed it.
After Friday’s victory, the excellent-as-ever Al Horford suggested the Hawks are beginning to “figure it out,” but this correspondent would be insincere if he suggested he saw much figuring. This team has no idea what it’s going to be from night to night: In Wednesday’s narrow victory over Orlando, Jason Collins had his game of the year; two nights later he didn’t play. To beat Boston, the Hawks banked on Zaza Pachulia, whose bullishness was the difference, and didn’t deploy Josh Smith in the fourth quarter. Yeah, it worked. But is that the formula for lasting success?At NBA Playbook, Sebastian Pruiti breaks down the staggered ball-screen the Hawks used for Jamal Crawford in the second half when Horford and Pachulia were both on the floor.
After Friday’s victory, Smith said: “We’re as good as anybody — when we put an effort to it.”
First: Do the Celtics ever feel the need to remind anyone how good they are? They just know. That the Hawks ascribed so much weight to two late-season victories tells us they still aren’t sure what’s what, and how could they be — on to Part 2 of Smith’s proclamation — if effort isn’t a constant? Do you know how hard it is for a team with a winning record to lose three home games by 30-plus points? In the history of the NBA, it had never ever happened. Until now.
We’ve stopped believing in the Hawks because we’ve stopped trusting them. This remains one of the NBA’s most gifted teams – on paper, it’s clearly better than the Magic, its sure-to-be Round 1 opponent — but then you check the numbers and you note that, after 76 games, the Hawks have outscored opponents by eight lousy points all season. What have they been doing?
We on the periphery don’t know, and the Hawks surely don’t, either. Sometimes they play hard, sometimes not. Often they get embarrassed, but sometimes they rouse themselves and make a stand. “Some reporters might write us off,” Smith said, “but we’re a playoff team and we know it.”
And there it was again, the reason we no longer believe in these Atlanta Hawks: Because they’ve gotten better at telling us how good they are than at showing us. Maybe they’ll make all of their skeptics look silly when the real season commences. Maybe, but I’m skeptical.
Brendan Jackson at Celtics Hub on Zaza:
Anytime Zaza Pachulia gets a double-double, the opposing team is not winning that game. NBA bylaw.