Joe Brings Hawks Back

Thursday, March 22, 2012
By Jon Newberry

It would be accurate to say the Hawks “stole” a win on Wednesday night, first hitting a 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime, then making up a six point deficit in 30 seconds to set up the 103-102 victory over the Cavs.

The Hawks appeared to be dead in the water at least three different times on Wednesday.

First, they dug a 16-point hole early in the second quarter after allowing Cleveland to score 36 points in the first, the most allowed by Atlanta in the opening period this season. The Hawks looked lethargic and there was no indication that they would be able to turn things around.

“We allowed them to get off to a fast start,” Coach Drew said after the game. “Our defense was non-existent. We didn’t put up any resistance.”

Then, all of a sudden, the Hawks closed the half with a 28-11 run fueled by 10 points from Josh Smith and 8 points from Jerry Stackhouse. The run put Atlanta up 53-52 at halftime, and they continued to play well in the third quarter, increasing the lead to 72-64. Cleveland then fought back with a run of their own, scoring the final nine points of the quarter to re-take the lead.

The second time it looked like the Hawks were finished was at the end of regulation. The Hawks trailed by just one-point with 26.7 seconds remaining and the Cavaliers with possession. Coach Drew elected not to foul and Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving scored with just over five seconds remaining to increase the lead to three points.

Joe Johnson had hit a huge three to give the Hawks a lead with just over a minute remaining, and Larry Drew set up a double-screen that got him free for an open look from the top of the key.

“It was just a great play that Coach drew up,” Joe said after the game. “Fortunately for us, it worked. I got a great look. I just tried to set the ball right in my hand, and I got it off, got a great look, and it went down for me.”

So the Hawks extended the game for five more minutes, but with 1:27 remaining in they found themselves with their backs against the wall again, trailing by six points.

Joe responded with another big shot from behind the arc, the Hawks got a big stop on defense, and then Josh Smith completed an old-fashioned 3-pt play to tie the score. That set the stage for one more clutch shot from Joe to seal the victory, and Atlanta’s theft of a game that looked lost on three occasions was complete.

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