RECAP: Hawks 104, Rockets 123

Daniel Christian —  December 31, 2012

FINAL

HOU (17-14) 123 – 104 (19-10) ATL

Key Performers:
C. Delfino (HOU): 22 pts, 4 rebs, 8 asts
A. Horford (ATL): 18 pts, 13 rebs, 4 asts, 1 stl

[FULL BOX SCORE]

The Hawks, plagued by poor perimeter defense, allowed Carlos Delfino and James Harden to rain fire from outside the arc. Atlanta cut Houston’s lead to 5 in the fourth quarter, but Jeremy Lin’s stout defense and more defensive lapses from the Hawks enabled Delfino and the Rockets to put Atlanta away for good.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: Smith’s strong defensive presence inside was one of the main reasons the Hawks were able to cut into the lead in the third quarter. He never played in the fourth as LD was resting Josh’s sore knee so he’d be available for tomorrow night, but 17 points and 7 rebounds in just 23 minutes isn’t too shabby. He also hit the jumpers he took, and while his shot selection wasn’t stellar, there’s no point with arguing the results. He was 5-12 from the field, but most of the misses, surprisingly, were within 15-feet. 6/10

Al Horford: Horford played a fantastic game as he initiated the offense early and was a beast on the boards. He hit his mid-range jumpers and played strong defense, but like Smith, he didn’t see any run in the 4th quarter. He played 31 minutes, and he was awesome in all 31. 9/10

Lou Williams: There are times when Lou Williams just cannot seem to miss. And for a stretch in the second half, it was one of those times. Lou caught fire from the perimeter and single-handedly resurrected a dead Atlanta offense. He came off of screens for his patented drifting three-pointers, he penetrated the lane for floaters and layups, and he seemed to cause quite a few Houston defensive breakdowns. He was the spark in this game, and had he played in the fourth quarter, the Hawks might have won this game– or at least seen a more friendly final score. 8/10

Zaza Pachulia: Zaza had one or two nice moments tonight, but for the most part, he was beat up inside by Greg Smith and Omer Asik. Both of those guys out-muscled and out-rebounded him in what was a difficult night for Pachulia. 2/10

Jeff Teague: Teague was a wreck to start the game, turning the ball over and missing from all over the field, but he initiated the Hawks second big 2nd half run. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, he was playing pesky defense, initiating the fast break, and finding open players. He finished with 9 assists on the night, but his 5 turnovers and 4-17 shooting line was the real story. Had he not struggled so much so early, Atlanta might have been in a better position going into the half.  5/10

Kyle Korver: Korver was pretty much a non-factor for most of the game. He seemed to struggle closing out Delfino and was just 1-3 from the field. 2/10

DeShawn Stevenson: It’s no surprise that LD chose for DeShawn to play tonight instead of tomorrow, but his impact on the defensive end was still not so hot. He played a fine game and shot well from the field, but he wasn’t able to slow down Harden, who got to the line at will. 4/10

Ivan Johnson: Ivan had a nice first quarter as he connected on two midrange jumpers, but after that, he was invisible. He only played 10 minutes, but he wasn’t the energizing force that he often is. 3/10

John Jenkins: The rookie had his best game of the season, scoring 14 points on 6-9 shooting. He showed an ability to put the ball on the court, a killer stroke from everywhere on the court, decent passing ability and vision, and stable enough man-to-man, isolation defense. He seemed to have trouble helping and rotating defensively, but overall, he was the most exciting player to watch tonight. He’s definitely playing his way into the rotation. 7/10

Mike Scott: Scott often seemed lost on defense, and offensively he seemed hesitant until the Rockets went deep to their bench in garbage time. He showed some decent moves though, hitting a nice mid-range jumper and working well in the paint against Montiejunas. 4/10

Anthony Tolliver and Johan Petro: Only played in garbage time and combined for a total of 0 points, 0 assists, 0 blocks, 0 steals, and 1 rebound. 1/10

Larry Drew: Drew’s decision to rest most of the starters in the fourth quarter is one I don’t really have an issue with, especially Smith who is still recovering from a minor injury. However, he definitely should have called a timeout during Houston’s 16-0 run in the second quarter, which ultimately killed Atlanta. After the game, Drew mentioned that he considered using that timeout, but instead decided to let the players play through it. Bad idea. Atlanta definitely should have used everything possible to stymie an at the time on fire Rocket offense. 6/10

The opposition: They couldn’t miss from beyond the arc and they seemed to respond to every Atlanta run with a run of their own. Asik controlled the boards once again, Harden was 12-13 from the stripe, and Delfino was unconscious from the downtown. It was a pretty impressive night from Houston. 9/10

 

Next: Atlanta at New Orleans, Tuesday, January 1st, 8pm ET

Daniel Christian

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