Since training camp, the Hawks' second unit has been bragging about having one of the best benches in the NBA. Until now, though, it was just words, a whole lot of Jamal Crawford and random quality efforts from other reserves. Things are changing dramatically as the season wears on. Four players came off the Hawks' bench to score in double-figures against a Raptors team that proved for the second straight game that they have no way of slowing the Hawks down. Crawford led the way as usual, but the collective effort from the backups is what will serve the Hawks most in the months to come.
"We've got one of the best benches in the league, no doubt," said reserve center Zaza Pachulia, clearly not an unbiased observer. "We're just coming out and taking whatever the defense gives us and going from there."
They've gone from there for three straight games, playing more and more minutes as the wins pile up.
"Our bench is tremendous and they have been all season," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "And really, that's huge if you're talking about doing the sorts of things we want to do this season."
HAWKS 111, RAPTORS 89: Having worn his team out repeatedly about the importance of winning away from Philips Arena, Hawks coach Mike Woodson will have a hard time complaining about what he saw in Toronto Friday night. His team executed the game plan flawlessly in dismantling the Raptors for the second time in the past 10 days. Last time, it was a 146-explosion against a defenseless Raptors bunch on their home floor.
Hawks captain and All-Star Joe Johnson led the way, finishing with 20 points in an efficient performance for a Hawks team that has already piled up seven road wins this season.
"There's no question this is what separates the men from the boys in our league," Josh Smith said. "Anybody can win at home. You've got the crowd on your side and you're in a comfort zone. If you want to be something special, you have to be able to do it away from home."
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