Zaza-Palooza: Pachulia Keeps Hawks' Hopes Alive In Miami

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Zaza-Palooza: Pachulia Keeps Hawks' Hopes Alive In Miami

With the Atlanta Hawks trailing the Miami Heat two games to one, and Game Four being played in Miami, the team realized they needed to bring a sense or urgency and energy to the court.

Zaza Pachulia provided all of it while proudly sporting the black eye he earned during Game Three.

In a Herculean effort off of the bench, the 6'11" big man helped the Hawks even the series, pulling down 18 boards to go along with 12 points (on 5-8 shooting, a healthy improvement from his 6-19 in the previous three games of the series.)

In fact, if two loose ball fouls on the Heat hadn't negated two rebounds already reeled in by Pachulia, he would have finished with 20 for the game.

Due to Al Horford's foul trouble, Pachulia entered the game early and proved to be the greatest move that Atlanta coach Mike Woodson made all night.

Atlanta raced out to a 44-23 lead due in large part to Pachulia's interior presence—before Woodson called a timeout allowing Pachulia to head to the bench and catch a breather after 16 straight minutes on the court.

But a win wasn't going to be that easy to come by if Miami could help it, and they didn't go quietly.

The Heat used a 19-2 run to close the first half, including back to back four point plays by Heat swingman James Jones, the latter coming only 11 seconds after the first, due to an offensive foul on Mike Bibby during an inbounds play.

The Hawks lead had been cut to 46-42 heading to the locker room, and many feared that the Hawks had lost their grasp on the game due to the let up at the end of the Second Quarter.

But the Hawks came out strong, or at least stronger than the Heat in the second half, and the lead was never cut to less than three after the intermission.

But it wasn't luck that let the Hawks leave the building with the victory.

Pachulia's strong effort kept Miami disrupted all night, from chasing down a loose ball that left Dwyane wade sprawled on the ground pleading for a foul, to ending up in the Heat bench while saving a loose ball.

Pachulia was everywhere.

“They made all the plays,” Jones said. “Zaza was the guy who every time they needed a big play, he made it. Whether it was a rebound, a tip or a layup, he was the momentum breaker tonight and I think he kind of sealed our fate.”

Pachulia's 18 rebounds were more than Jermaine O'Neal, Udonis Haslem, and James Jones combined for in the Miami frountcourt, and his six offensive rebounds were just one less than the Heat had as a team.

Wade was basically quiet most of the game, ending the first half shooting just 4-17, on his way to finishing 9-26 shooting night...He heated up late in the Fourth Quarter, but by then the Heat had run out of time and energy it seemed.

Jermaine O'Neal and James Jones were the only other Heat members who added anything on offense, adding 20 and 19 respectively.

Jones' 19 points came on just 4-5 shooting, including 3-4 from three point range and 8-9 from the free throw line.

While the Hawks had balance offensively, tonight's effort won't go down in history as unstoppable.

Six Hawks players scored in double figures led by Mike Bibby with 15, followed by Joe Johnson's 14, Josh Smith with 13, and Pachulia's 12. Flip Murray added 11 off the bench, and Maurice Evans finished with 10 despite fighting foul trouble the majority of the game.

Al Horford had just four points and three points, playing only 17 minutes due to foul trouble but was not missed due to Pachulia's emergence.

The Atlanta Hawks wanted energy, and Pachulia made sure his team didn't head home in a three games to one hole.

I'm sure Pachulia is hoping that some of his energy will rub off on his teammates in time for Wednesday night's game.

Extended Notes-

  • The Hawks bench outscored the Heat's 25-2, and out rebounded them 24-8.
  • Dwyane Wade is reported to have been experiencing back spasms throughout the game, though he was also seen nursing his hip and legs.
  • Pachulia set playoff career highs in points, rebounds, and minutes.
  • Six players scored in double figures for the Hawks, while only six players scored for the Heat including a combined 10 points from Haslem, Chalmers, and Michael Beasley.
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