Big Road Machine Rolls On

Saturday, February 11, 2012
By Jon Newberry


Playing without starting center Al Horford AND without “Mr. Kryptonite” himself, Jason Collins, the Hawks could have rolled over on Friday night and accepted defeat. Not this year’s team. Led by Josh Smith, Atlanta came out aggressive and played scrappy and physical the entire night to earn the 89-87 overtime win.

Following a similar script to last season’s wins in Orlando, the Hawks sacrificed offensive production and a quicker pace to wear down the Magic and their All-NBA center, Dwight Howard. In fact, this was the first time this year that Atlanta posted a victory despite scoring less than 90 points… and they even had an extra five minutes of action to increase their point total.

In analyzing the win, you have to start with Smith.

“I just took what the defense gave me tonight,” Josh commented after the game. “I wanted to be efficient down low on the block. I wanted to be able to help down there on the rebounds with Dwight. Just wanted to be able to come out there and put my best foot forward.”

His “best foot” included 23 points, 19 rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots. When asked to comment on J-Smoove’s performance, fellow forward Marvin Williams didn’t have much to say.

“When you get a statline like that, it speaks for itself.”

One Hawk whose stat line might not jump out at you, but had a big impact on the game was Zaza Pachulia. With Horford and Twin inactive and newly acquired Erick Dampier only available for limited minutes, Pachulia was tasked with containing Dwight Howard by himself for most of the game. Big Z is usually one to make full use of his fouls, but without the luxury of a deep frontcourt he had to pick his moments tonight. The result was a solid night on both ends of the court, helping to force Howard into committing five turnovers and finishing with nine points and 10 rebounds.

It was far from a two-man show for the Hawks on Friday night, as they received contributions from many angles. Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams each scored four points in overtime to help lead to victory. Jeff Teague and Tracy McGrady combined for 12 points in the second period when Atlanta’s offense stalled for a bit.

The result was a big win that should build on the momentum that was gained from Wednesday’s home win over the Pacers. It is momentum that the Hawks will need as they host the Heat on Sunday before embarking on a five-game road-trip that crosses has the team playing on each coast.

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