--G Mike Bibby didn't crank his offense up until late against the Pacers, scoring eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter. It's a new role for the Hawks' veteran point guard, who is adjusting to so many different offensive options that have either matured or been added since last season. "I'm going to be a little bit more aggressive," Bibby said laughing. "Hey, it's my 12th year. I still get first-game jitters."
He didn't flinch in the fourth quarter, though, showing that he's always willing to take and make big shots with the game on the line.
His three-pointer with the Hawks trailing 101-100 with 8:05 to play put them ahead to stay and his running jumper with 7:28 left gave the Hawks another quick jolt. His three-pointer with 2:43 left gave the Hawks a 115-105 lead and a little insurance.
But his best work might have been done in the facilitation of the Hawks' offense all night. Bibby was efficient and allowed his teammates to make plays of their own (his willingness to keep everyone in a good flow is easily one of his most underrated qualities).
"Mike was doing a great job of getting the ball in the right spots and I was just shooting with confidence," Al Horford said after his 24-point, 16-rebound effort.
--If Joe Johnson's confidence in his teammates wasn't sky-high before Wednesday's game, it is now.
After watching Al Horford and Josh Smith tote the load on both ends of the floor early, he was full of praise after the game.
"I know those guys worked on their games over the summer and you can tell," he said. "I know it's the first game, but you can tell they've been working. I'm glad they came back with the mindset that they have and that's what it's going to take to get us over the top."
It worked against the Pacers. While many of the Hawks' looked rattled early as the Pacers piled up the points, Smith and Horford were steadying forces.
"For it to be the first game, you have so many jitters and you're so anxious to get out there and play," Johnson said. "I just really wanted to get into the flow of the game early. But it doesn't always work that way, so I just tried to pick my spots. Al and Josh played great tonight. I thought they were the two guys that got us over the hump."
The proof was in the Hawks' scoring edge inside. They pounded the Pacers 54-38 in the paint.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "You're going to have nights like this, when the other team is shooting lights out and you're forced to play outside of your comfort zone a little bit. We wanted to clamp down on the defensive end and put the onus ourselves to get stops when it mattered and I think we did that. Joe got it going late and Al was playing well, so I wanted to be the guy that was on the defensive end making plays. And I was able to get a couple of steals and late block at the end that helped us finish them off. I know it wasn't the sort of defensive masterpiece coach loves to see, but it turned out positive for us in the end." -- F Josh Smith, on his -- and Al Horford's -- big night.
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