Going into last night’s game, the Hawks were forced to play without three very important players. DeMarre Carroll, Kyle Korver and Elton Brand were all unavailable to go and it really hurt Atlanta’s chances of pulling out a much-needed win. If all three could have played, the Hawks probably come out victorious because the effort the team gave was great given the circumstances.
Even without Korver and Carroll, who are both starters, Atlanta managed to fight till the very end with a weaker starting lineup. Cartier Martin provided a spot start in Carroll’s absence and looked great in doing so. Martin finished the game with 13 points, four rebounds and two steals. However, as great as his performance was last night, nobody raised their game like Pero Antic did to try and help Atlanta pull through.
Given the limited big men available to play against the Wizards, Antic stepped up to become a dominant force in the low post. The Macedonian center scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to record his first double-double since the middle of March. What made his performance even more impressive is that he managed to play despite not being at 100 percent.
Antic had to sit out the last game against the Portland Trail Blazers with a sprained ankle, but he didn’t let this change his style of play last night. Every time he entered the game, he gave it his all to make a big impact on the outcome. The Hawks fell just short in the end by a final score of 101-97, but with Antic on the floor they had plus-24 scoring margin, which was the highest of any player on both teams.
However, as great as the Macedonian’s effort was in the close defeat, the absence of Brand was too much to overcome. The starters did their part in order to help Atlanta’s chances of winning, but the bench was terrible without another big man. Brand would have come in to provide the Hawks with a much-needed defensive presence and some scoring as well. In fact, if the veteran played against Washington, he might have been the difference between winning or losing this game.