Initial feedback: A completely subjective and immediate response to the events of tonight's game, featuring a comment and rating, the latter on a scale of 1 to 10, on every player who saw the floor and the head coach, along with ephemera and miscellany as the author deems necessary.
Your ratings and commentary, dear reader, are welcomed in the comments to this post.
By Buddy Grizzard
Josh Smith: Opened the game with a post-up and drew a foul on Ersan Ilyasova, a sign of good things to come. Throughout the first half, Josh attacked the basket, taking and missing only a single 19-foot elbow jumper 5 minutes before the half. Playing the right way, and with none of the poor body language he displayed in the loss to Golden State, Josh put up a monster stat line for the half with 13 points on 5-for-10 shooting, 12 rebounds and 4 assists. This is what an All-Star performance looks like: 24 points, 19 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks while limiting himself to one badly-missed, ill-advised outside shot per half. 9/10
Jeff Teague: When Brandon Jennings scored 8 points in a 33-second stretch to put Milwaukee ahead by 9 with under 3 minutes to play before halftime, Teague was nowhere to be found. I can no more explain the regression of Teague's defensive game than I can explain his absence from those possessions. For the game's first 21 minutes, Teague matched Jennings point for point by attacking the basket and making Jennings work on both ends. The Bucks closed the first half on a 13-2 run, all but 2 scored by Milwaukee's back court. This was one game where Teague's seat on the bench for the entire 4th quarter was well-deserved. 2/10
Kirk Hinrich: I've often speculated that Kirk was obtained, not only to improve the defensive accountability of the Atlanta Hawks, but because his expiring contract might bring the Hawks a more permanent addition to the roster at this year's trading deadline. If the Hawks hope the Lakers will see Hinrich as the solution to its point guard dilemma (and send the Hawks a first-round pick to provide some compensation for all that the Hawks gave up to obtain the badly-fading Hinrich), let's hope Mitch Kupchak missed the first half of this game. The only thing worse than watching Teague try to guard Jennings was watching Hinrich try to bring the ball up as he racked up 5 first-half turnovers. 2/10
Zaza Pachulia: After playing his best defense of the season against Dwight Howard as the Hawks salvaged a win just before the All-Star break, Zaza played literally the worst defensive game I've seen him play. Drew Gooden, when he's on, has a combination of power, mobility and craftiness with the ball that Zaza had no answer for. 2/10
Marvin Williams: Guarded for much of the game by Carlos Delfino, who gives up at least two inches, I saw Marvin post up once. He looked extremely confused and immediately passed the ball back out to the perimeter. Given the opportunity to increase his role in the offense with Joe Johnson missing extended time due to knee tendinitis, Marv has continued to be mostly invisible. Marvin started the season hot but played the fewest minutes of any starter due to Drew's many bench options at small forward. But since February, it has been Marvin's poor play, not Drew's rotations, that has destroyed any trade value Marvin might have had, and any chance the Hawks had to get his salary off its books. 2/10
Ivan Johnson: Played exceptional defense in the first half, drew two charges and avoided taking any bad shots. After Ivan stole the ball from Shaun Livingston, he attempted a touchdown pass that was intercepted, prompting a disgusted look from Larry Drew and a quick re-entry for Zaza. I was afraid Ivan's return to LD's dog house would last the duration of the game, but surprisingly he came back in the second half and contributed. Ivan's combination of power and foot speed did more to neutralize Gooden than anything Zaza contributed. His stat line of 2 points and 3 rebounds in 16 minutes does not tell the story of his defensive impact, especially during the 4th quarter run that won the game for the Hawks. 4/10
Jerry Stackhouse: With Joe Johnson and Willie Green out due to injuries, this was Stack's chance. He showed his age by shooting 2-for-7 and letting Beno Udrih blow by him, but he was on the floor in the 4th. His 4-for-4 shooting from the free throw line and 8 points (without an assist or a rebound) in 23 minutes contributed to the winning margin. 5/10
Jannero Pargo: I've complained about Pargo's lack of talent as a ball handler and passer (and those deficiencies were certainly on display in this game). But you cannot discount Pargo's utility as a streak shooter off the bench, or question his inner dog. When Jeff Teague utterly failed to answer the challenge brought by Jennings, Pargo took over in the second half to bring the Hawks back. During one possession where an obvious Jennings foul on Pargo wasn't called, Pargo calmly blew by him and pulled up for a 15-footer, then walked back up court staring Jennings down the whole way. 7/10
Vladimir Radmanovic: With the Hawks' depleted front court, Radmanovic has spent a lot of time spelling Josh Smith with disastrous results. This was one of those nights when Vlad's shot was on, which allows you to overlook the lack of defensive foot speed and rim defense. 6/10
Tracy McGrady: Showed the production that made him a steal as a veteran's minimum addition. His 9 points on 4-for-9 shooting and 11 rebounds in 26 minutes were contributions we'd come to expect from him before Hinrich's return (and his subsequent complaint about playing time and resultant residence in the dog house) gutted his minutes. 7/10
The head coach
The Hawks have lost so many games because Drew consitently takes players out of the game who are hot and leaves players in the game who are cold. On this night, Drew had a kean sense for whom to play and whom to sit. 7/10
A thought regarding the opposition
Roster decimated by injuries? Check. Fading star unhappy with playing time? Check. Borderline playoff team? Check. The Hawks and Bucks have so many similarities, it was good to see the home team get a gut-check win to help ease the memory of the disastrous loss to Golden State the team stumbled out of the All-Star break with.