Grinding Out the Victories

Tuesday, January 17, 2012
By Jon Newberry


If you only enjoy “pretty” wins with little adversity and overwhelming teams on pure talent alone, then this might be a frustrating season for you.

The Hawks won their third straight game on Monday, defeating the Toronto Raptors 93-84 at the Highlight Factory. It was the latest win where Atlanta grabbed an early lead and then fought tooth and nail the rest of the way to maintain it. The game featured 46 fouls and 54 free throws (14 fouls and two technicals in the third quarter alone).

Atlanta took the lead with 6:35 remaining in the first quarter and never gave it back, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that they were “in control” the whole game. The lead only reached double digits for 12 seconds of the second half.

Josh Smith (28 points, 15 rebounds) and Joe Johnson (27 points, 6 assists) continue to set the pace for the Hawks, stepping up their games to make up for the void left by Al Horford’s injury. With Horford out Atlanta is often playing undersized, putting more pressure on their frontcourt to rebound and defend. J-Smoove has not shied away from the challenge, and tonight turned in another stellar performance.

“He’s just playing,” commented Jeff Teague after the game. “Not worrying about anything, about missing shots or anything…just playing. And I think it’s carrying over to everybody. He has me playing like that, not worrying about things, turnovers, things like that…just staying steady.”