Zaza Pachulia pumped his fist at least four times. Josh Smith pumped his a time or too as well.Other than the occasional flash, the Hawks kept their emotions in check throughout their 86-76 win over the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday.
"We couldn't afford to go overboard," Pachulia said after 11-point, 13-rebound effort off the bench. "These games are too important for us to lose our heads. And this game was a perfect example. We had the biggest crowd of the season and the whole thing was full of energy. We just tried to feed off of that and use to it to our advantage."
Flip Murray chimed in with 14 huge points off the bench, including a game-sealing pull-up jumper with 1:17 to play. But it was his usual timely performance.
It was the kind of effort off the bench the Hawks have been getting all season. Not bad for a crew referred to as a "FEMA disaster" by one national publication during the preseason.
"People that talked like that didn't factor in our chemistry as a group," Murray said. "They might have looked at us individually and assumed some things about us. But we're better as a group than we are individually."
Take Pachulia's contributions in Sunday's game for example. It was much needed with starting center Al Horford struggling with fouls early and his shot the entire game.
"Zaza came in and provided big minutes for us," Horford said. "Flip Murray always brings energy off the bench. It was just a great team effort."
Pachulia and Murray weren't the only players to come off the bench and give the Hawks a jolt Sunday night. Mario West did his part, too.
He played six frantic minutes in the second quarter, including some fearless defense on Lakers superstar and reigning league MVP Kobe Bryant.
He scored on a put back and a sweet, reverse lay-up, finishing with four points to go along with some in-your-face defense on Bryant.
"Mario brings so much energy and effort," Mo Evans said. "You just can't help but respect it and root for it when he's out there. That effort he gave us was huge (Sunday night)."
HAWKS 86, LAKERS 76: With his Hawks clinging to a double-digit lead over the Los Angeles Lakers and a record crowd of 20,148 at Philips Arena on its feet Mike Bibby got the bounce he needed.
He watched his last three-point attempt bounce high off the back of the rim and then off the top of the backboard and then back through the net with 5:31 to play, his shot and performance putting the exclamation point on the Hawks' rousing 86-76 win over the Lakers to snap a two-game losing streak.
"I thought it was going over the backboard," a smiling Bibby said afterwards. "I was about to cut back the other way and saw it bounce and said, 'go in,' and it did. Hey, I'll take that."
And the Hawks (43-31) will certainly take a huge momentum-shifting win over one of the league's best teams with yet another monster matchup on tap at Philadelphia Tuesday night.
After suffering back-to-back home losses for the first time in more than two months the Hawks bounced back with arguably their most dominant defensive performance of the season.
They held the Lakers to a season scoring low and kept Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant under wraps in the second half as the Lakers tried to rally from a 16-point deficit.
"We played together and our shots were going in," said Bibby, who led the Hawks with 21 points, including a wicked 5-for-6 shooting effort from beyond the three-point line. "You couldn't have asked for a better game."