Quantcast 2011 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs: Semifinals - Chicago vs Atlanta

 

NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals - Game 4 Recap

Eastern Conference Semifinal Game 4 - Atlanta 100, Chicago 88 - Series tied, 2-2

 

 

With the season on the line, the Atlanta Hawks decided to stop settling for jump shots. They stopped playing standaround basketball. They stopped heaving and hoisting and chucking. They slashed to the goal and crashed the glass. They competed instead of looking defeated. They worked tirelessly instead of operating guilelessly.

It’s amazing what can happen when the Hawks, blessed with copious quantities of athleticism but historically bereft of mental toughness, actually decide to pay the price on the court and throw themselves into the fray with unabashed abandon. Atlanta fully invested itself in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Chicago Bulls, and wonder of wonders, they emerged with a series-tying triumph at Phillips Arena in the Athens of the South. Atlanta didn’t put up much of a fight in Game 2 or Game 3, so just imagine what can happen if the fifth-seeded Hawks can play two more inspired games against the top seed in the East.

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The biggest key to this effort for Atlanta was the emergence of forward Josh Smith. The athletic forward was simply fantastic, taking over the game on both sides of the court. Smith attacked the rim instead of bailing out on possessions 22 feet from the basket. He rebounded the ball with authoritativeness and displayed shutdown defense at the other end of the floor on Sunday night. He also proved just how dynamic he can be when he puts a full 48 minute effort into the contest. The same could be said of the Hawks at large, who no-showed at home in Friday’s Game 3 and gave the appearance of a team that was ready for the offseason. Now, the Hawks are very much back in the thick of things, and if they can sustain their effort level, they’ll have a legitimate chance of extending the Bulls to the limit.

Trailing by two points heading into the fourth quarter, Smith was vital in getting the Hawks going down the stretch. Smith scored seven straight points midway through the final stanza to give Atlanta an 82-80 lead. The Hawks never trailed again. In the final 4:03 of the game, the Hawks outscored the top-seeded Bulls, 16-4.

 

 

Smith finished with 23 points, 16 rebounds, and eight assists. The Hawks dominated the paint, outscoring the Bulls 56-40. Three Hawks scored at least 20 points. Two more scored in double figures.

Derrick Rose had 34 points for Chicago, but in the style of a bad Kobe Bryant, he needed 32 shot attempts to score those points, which rang hollow without a blended effort from his teammates. The Bulls shot just 41 percent, including 3-of-16 beyond the arc. They’ll need an all-hands-on-deck performance in Game 5 if they want to re-take the upper hand in this strange, up-and-down series.

 

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By: Matt Zemek
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer


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