The star of the 97-91 Hawks win over the Portland Trailblazers was Jamal Crawford, who proved more than capable of borderline criminal distribution with his (7) assists off the bench to go with his game high (27) points.
That Crawford was able to score the basketball wasn't a surprise, after all--it's been more than well documented that Crawford has scored 50+ points (For three different teams! Have you heard?!), it was that he has already been able to intergrate himself into the RFM role on the team and take it a step further.
As you recall, Jamal was brought in to be Bibby insurance and a replacement for the production that RFM provided last season---a fair bet since Crawford's PER has been, on average, about the production level that Murray yielded last season. But Crawford flashed glimpses that he might be able to go above and beyond that level of play. THHB holds off gushing about him--but we do note that Jamal has not played on a team as together/successful as this Hawks team is.
Crawford has given the Hawks the same can-create-your-own-shot off the bench as RFM did, but also showed he can run the offense somewhat more efficiently than the miscast Murray would from the point. There were at least two occasions that Crawford could have taken buckets for himself and instead offered those free points to a teammate. We feel that's worth noting since RFM never seemed to pass up a shot on the break, even if other options were flying in from the wing.
Thank you, Jamal--I left you an apple on your desk!
Al Horford had an uneven night on the offensive end, shooting 5-12, but with two of those baskets coming on those Jamal Crawford Christmas Packages at the hoop on the break.
We have to point out again that Horford is not progressing offensively against bigger players. Last night against the Blazers and Oden/Przybilla, Horford went back to shooting exaggerated fadeaways and quick hooks/layups, all of which missed. When he is aggressive and patient, he is efficient, but he lacks resolve against the titans he has been matched up against. Still, he didn't allow that to disrupt his hustle as he finished with (13) rebounds to go with his (11) points.
Somewhere, Tyrone Corbin is Smiling
There is no official stat that tracks it, but we're going to go ahead and say that Josh Smith is on pace to smash the all time record for shooting the ball with his foot on the line (known in THHB as a Ty Corbin three). Smith launched a couple more long shots last night and still looks like he could fall off the "don't fall in love with the jump shot" wagon at any moment on the floor.
Still, with the energy of the Hawks swallowing up the Blazers in the latter stages of the win, it was Smith who was the linchpin, especially his shot deterring activity inside. Smith could have derailed himself inside of his frustration with (2) quick fouls in the first quarter, but after Woodson put him back in the game (in the second quarter no less---whohoo!!), Smith went to work inside on both ends, and help rally the team back with his energy.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.
Zaza Pachulia went for a clean basket and dunked without trying to pick up a foul first.
Zaza Pachulia blocked (2) shots in a game. It was the 30th time he has done such thwarting in his (7) seasons.As a comparison, Horford has done this feat (53) times in his (3) seasons and Josh Smith (248) times in his (6) seasons with the Hawks.
Joe Johnson's Homemade Killer Sauce
Joe Johnson ho-hummed his way into the fourth quarter where he casually pounded a couple of long range nails into the Portland coffin.