Postgame Thoughts: Horford’s Tear Continues With Career Night
A few thoughts after tonight’s 102-91 win over the Jazz:
– Al Horford continues to be the hottest big man in the NBA. His career-high 34-point night bumps his average to 25.4 points per game over his last seven games, six of which have been Hawks wins. He’s also shooting 68 percent from the field over that stretch and has made at least 10 shots in each of those games.
– Horford’s big games of late have somewhat overshadowed the solid play of frontline mate Josh Smith. J-Smoove scored 24 points and pulled down 14 rebounds.
– On a night when Atlanta had to be big on the glass, Horford and Smith helped the Hawks tread water against the big Utah front line. The Jazz out-rebounded the Hawks 47-38, but Atlanta ended up with just five fewer shot attempts and still shot a higher percentage than Utah.
– The Jazz did a nice job on Kyle Korver in his return to Utah by limiting him to just two three-point attempts, but the NBA’s leader from distance was able to get one to drop, extending his streak of consecutive games with a long one to 50.
– The starting combo of Jeff Teague and Devin Harris has been working lately. When the two are on the floor together, the Hawks are fun to watch in transition. Tonight they combined for 31 points, including several acrobatic finishes that could only make you shake your head.
– Larry Drew only played nine players tonight and got just 11 points from the bench. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. Drew is good at recognizing when a player is feeling it, and lately the starters have all been hot. Each of them played at least 31 minutes tonight.
– Speaking of Drew, we can’t really say enough about what the man draws up out of timeouts. Coming out of the final two timeouts of the fourth quarter, the Hawks thwarted Utah runs with the Smith-to-Horford high-low alley-oop off the pick and roll play that works every time, then the Smith-to-Horford slip screen play with Korver running to the corner. I don’t think I can remember the last time an opponent even came remotely close to stopping either of those.
Give the Hawks credit. Despite the absence of Paul Millsap, the Jazz were still determined to pound the paint with Al Jefferson and Derrick Favors, but Atlanta rose up to the challenge and turned in one of their finest defensive efforts of the season. The win is the Hawks’ fourth straight overall, fifth straight away from home, sixth in their last seven games and third straight to start the road trip. Next up is a Phoenix team that has to feel confident after beating San Antonio in overtime on the road tonight. The Hawks can’t afford a letdown on Friday, as they have a tough back-to-back on Sunday and Monday with the Lakers and Nuggets to close the trip.