Overview: The undefeated Hawks rode a red-hot start and effective fourth quarter to a 100-88 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Marvin Williams led the Hawks with 22 points, and J.J. Hickson led the Cavaliers with a career-high 31 points.
The Hawks couldn’t miss early. If pressed I’d say that about 60% of their made jumpers, mostly long twos, were “well, you can’t give him that look” shots, and the other 40% were “I suppose you have to live with that” shots. Of course, they all counted on the scoreboard. The Hawks rotated the ball, they pulled up off the dribble, and let fly from just inside the three-point line, and made everything. Josh Smith made two long jumpers in the fourth quarter, which ranks just below a light fixture falling on a point guard on the bad omen scale. The only reason the Cavs were in the game in the first was that the Cavs were hitting tough shots themselves, with Hickson, Hollins, and Anthony Parker all pitching in some tricky jumpers.
The Cavs fought back when the Hawks inevitably cooled off from the field, but ultimately failed to get it done in the fourth. What used to be LeBron time turned into a period of confusion, as the Cavs were forced to rely on long jumpers and/or Hickson in high-post ISO sets while the Hawks got clutch shots from Crawford, Johnson, and Bibby to put the Cavs away and stay undefeated.
– HICKSON HICKSON HICKSON. HICKSOMANIA IS IN FULL EFFECT. Amazing game from J.J. Smith started the game off giving J.J. jumpers, and Hickson calmly drained them. That gave him a ton of confidence for the rest of the game, and it showed. Rather than falling in love with the jumper, Hickson used his early makes to open up his game. There were moves from the high-post. There were fake dribble-handoffs that led to drive. There were catch-and-dunks. Josh Smith looked utterly helpless throughout the contest. It was an absolute clinic from J.J., and the best evidence we’ve yet seen that J.J. can be a franchise player going forward.
– Mo came back. He did fine. Williams looked a bit rusty, and definitely forced some drives early and shots late. He also showed some flashes, though; he controlled the offense for much of his time on the floor, and hit a big fourth-quarter three from his absolute three (left elbow extended, for you new readers/watchers.) Hopefully he’ll get back in the swing of things soon, because…
– Ramon Sessions has looked God-awful. He just keeps driving over and over again with no real idea of what happens when small people come directly at large people with no real plan. I feel very bad about getting excited about Ramon. There’s still a lot of season left, but Ramon has to figure his stuff out.
– I have very mixed about Anthony Parker this season. On the one hand, he’s doing a better job of handling the ball than Ramon is, and doing a decent job making plays. On the other hand, this team has a very low offensive ceiling if Anthony Parker is the man making the decisions on offense.
– Varejao was very active and played some really good positional defense, but really failed to make an impact on offense. The ball movement on this team needs to improve, and that starts with Mo (who pulls up early too much) and Ramon (who spends way too much time making Kamikaze drives.)
Bullets of Randomness:
-Apart from some nice blocks, Josh Smith looked horrible, didn’t he? J.J. had his way with him, and 2 of Smith’s 3 baskets were on long twos. That’s not what the ATL coaching staff wants, I’m sure.
– AP did a great job on Joe Johnson, but Johnson did come up with some big baskets in the fourth, as did Bibby and Crawford. Helps to have confident perimeter players late in the game.
– Boy, does Horford look good. He seems to be comfortable with that 15-footer but not in love with it, which is such a big deal for young big men.
– Somebody explain Jeff Teague’s appeal to me. Guards with poor shots and low basketball IQs generally don’t make it far in this league, but I do plead ignorance, and he’s clearly a great athlete.
Alright, that’s all for me tonight. Yay J.J. Boo 1-3.