Impressive Opener

Wednesday, December 28, 2011
By Jon Newberry

 Atlanta Hawks 106, New Jersey Nets 70

AP RECAP | BOX SCORE | VIDEO: Postgame Reactions

The New Jersey Nets haven’t been to the playoffs in the last four years and aren’t expecting a dramatic improvement this season, but don’t let that take anything away from how dominant the Hawks looked in Tuesday night’s season opening win at the Prudential Center.

All through training camp we heard about how the new additions to the Hawks’ roster, while small on the salary scale, would provide substantial additions on the court. If you were skeptical during training camp, then Tuesday night should at least push you in the direction of becoming a believer.

The Bench.
Many have asked how the Hawks could replace the bench production (14 ppg) that was lost when Jamal Crawford signed a free agent contract with the Trail Blazers. The Hawks never claimed that they would find that kind of offensive output in one replacement, but the second unit was anything but a weak link in the opener.

Vladimir Radmanovic scored 9 points in the first quarter, helping Atlanta’s bench outscore the Nets’ bench 13-2. Vladi finished with 17 points (3-of-4 from behind the arc) and also had four assists.

Tracy McGrady was much more locked in and aggressive than he showed in either preseason contest, finishing with 12 points in 20 minutes of action.

Jannero Pargo gave the Hawks quality minutes backing up Jeff Teague, making smart decisions and playing solid defense. As a seven-year vet, Pargo seems to have quickly identified his role on the team and should be a stable piece in the Hawks rotation.

Zaza Pachulia continues to impress this year. He is giving his trademark energy and effort and has shown a little more assertiveness on the offensive end as well. Pachulia grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds and scored 13 points.

Which Jeff Teague will show up?

The other big question entering the season was about Jeff Teague. Would we get to see the guy that dazzled us in the second round of the playoffs last year full time?

If Tuesday night was any indication the answer is a big YES.

Teague outplayed Deron Williams, the two-time All-Star, limiting him to 10 points and just ONE assist. Meanwhile, Jeff was strong on offense, scoring 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including 3-of-4 from behind the arc. He did have a pair of careless turnovers, but nothing that should detract from an otherwise impressive debut as an opening night starter.

Again, take it with a grain of salt if you must, but 30-point road wins aren’t just given to anyone. The Hawks showed up on Tuesday night and made a statement about their intentions for the 2011-12 season. Now all they need to do is keep repeating the same line.

(UPDATE FROM ELIAS) The Hawks’ 106-70 victory over the Nets in New Jersey marked only the third time in NBA history that a team won on the road by more than 35 points in its season-opener. The other teams to do that were the Cavaliers in November 1988 (a 133-93 triumph over the Charlotte Hornets) and the Bulls in October 2006 (a 108-66 dismissal of the Heat in Miami).

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