Thoughts might have been, in more worrisome times, that the Hawks could get trapped overlooking the visiting Sacramento Kings, leading to a defeat that would potentially deflate all the fun that has been this current homestand/winning streak.
It looked that way Tuesday night, as the Hawks let the Kings get comfortable for quite a while inside Philips Arena. The Kings seemed to have made a ton of shots, in large part because the home team wanted to make sure the lottery bound team from Sacramento felt good about themselves by not playing much in the way of defense for three quarters.
Things looked so good for the Kings that the HHB had to check to make sure the Hawks really did win the game 119-97 when reviewing the smuggled footage again after the fact.
In fact, as much as the Hawks wanted to be good hosts to the Kings, the visitors were more interested in being excellent guests.
The Kings offered little to themselves in terms of scoring or defending inside, getting crushed 64-30 in points in the paint. The Hawks strung together an oceanful of dunks, getting (11) alone in the first half. Al Horford and Josh Smith had their way, each registering a strong double-double. The Hawks made good of their advantage (seems odd to write that) inside and made a point of making the extra pass to get the seemingly inevitable open look from close range.
The game was close through three quarters due in large part to the offensive skills of Kevin Martin. Peachtree Hoops called it in their Pre Game Preview Thread---Kevin Martin is great, but if you can limit others, Martin can't score 80 to beat the Hawks. Martin was a beast through (3) quarters, scoring (31) and getting to the line (17) times. But he was done with 2 minutes left in the 3rd quarter--no more free throws/no more points. He did not score the (54) points needed to knock off the now six-in-a-row Birds.
With Martin shut down, the Kings scored only (11) points in the fourth quarter and what was once a 10-point lead for the Kings early on, and a (6) point game at the final turn, became a game in which the Hawks regular starters rested comfortably on the bench for the final five minutes-as was hoped-and for the most part, as was expected.
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We've been shining the bronze bust of Al Horford out here for quite a few games now, but we must add that we've seen a dramatic improvement on his finishing inside after contact. It's just another brick in the wall in what should be a nightly memo to Mike Woodson that the game should, in some part, go through Horford in the pivot. When you have a big man that can pass (oh by the way, Horford had 6 assists) and has great hands (my hand twin!), you have to leverage that high percentage option. Well you don't have to, but you could be considered foolish or stubborn to not do so.
Speaking of shaky strategies---We thought we saw Mike Woodson trying to substitute for the Kings Jason Thompson when he picked up his 2nd foul in the first quarter---Andres Nocioni as well---but no worries, Woody---No Sacramento Kings fouled out during the making of tonight's game.
Joe Johnson did not score 30 against SAC--after all, he missed his first (9) shots and didn't make his first one until there was 4 1/2 minutes left in the half. He finished strong, though, making 8 for his last 12 and ended with (20) points, breaking his 30 point game run at (4). Understanding that he wasn't hot at all from outside, he decided to take advantage of the scoring pot 'o gold (Happy St. Patrick's Day, everybody!) inside instead.
Mo Evans had another one of his pesky forechecking-like steal and score. We'll say it again--more of that and keep knocking down that open three---we just wanted to note his effort since we are probably the hardest regarding his actual production for the team---another good job offensively for him.
The HHB is loving the every other day game format---email addresses for the NBA scheduler can be dropped off in the Comments Area.