Role Players Step Up For Atlanta

When Hawk’s players arrived at Philip’s arena Wednesday evening, they were greeted with some ominous news that Joe Johnson would undergo surgery and will miss four-to-six weeks.

Anytime a superstar goes down one question has to be raised: who will step up? In their first contest without Johnson it could have been Al Horford, Mike Bibby, Marvin Williams, Jamal Crawford, Jeff Teague, Mo Evans or Josh Powell that picked up the slack. Luckily for the Hawks (12-7) it was all of the above as they beat the Memphis Grizzlies (8-11) 112-109 victory with a balanced offensive effort.

The Hawks had a staggering seven players finish with point totals higher than their season averages.

“You see a balanced attack,” Jamal Crawford said. “I think that’s tougher for the opposition to key in on.”

Larry Drew’s motion offense looked unstoppable at times as the team also dished out 33 assists; close to 11 more than their average this season.

“That’s what its going to take,” Drew said. “When you have a guy out, everybody has to step their game up and we had some guys that did that tonight.”

Horford led the way for Atlanta with 20 points as he continues to be one of the most efficient players in the league. He connected on eight of his 14 attempts from the field. He is now shooting 60.2 percent from the field this season

“Al’s been playing well for us,” Drew said. “We are counting on Al and he has stepped up big for us.”

It has been an efficient year turned in for Mike Bibby so far as well as he entered the game shooting a whopping 52.1 percent from distance this season despite shooting just 38.9 percent from deep last year and 37.8 percent in his career. He managed to knock down four-of-five three point attempts as his father, assistant coach Henry Bibby, watched from the Memphis bench.

“I have to get more play calls ran to [Bibby],” Drew said. “He is into a groove. When he gets his feet under him, he can knock them down with the best of them.”

Josh Powell also had a big impact on the game, especially in the second quarter where he hit 6-of-7 attempts from the field.

“I just did the same thing I’ve been doing every game,” Powell said. “I can score but that part I don’t really worry about. I just wanted to come out and show what I could do on both ends of the floor.”

Crawford paced the Hawks with eight assists to go along with his 16 points.

The Hawks have proved a lot already this year. They have proved that they can string wins together, they can win on the road and they even proved they can win without their best player. Perhaps next is proving that they can compete with some of the elite teams in the league as their record against teams above the .500 mark is still a gaudy 2-6.

Atlanta will finish up a two game home stand Friday as they take on the Philadelphia 76ers before traveling down to Florida to face the Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic respectively.

Jerel Marshall
Jerel is currently a journalism major at Georgia State University and the Sports Editor for the student newspaper The Signal. He also runs a site dedicated to discovering and reviewing new music,
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