As the clock wound down to zero, rookie Jordan Crawford grabbed a rebound and walked the ball down the FedEx Forum court. That was about the only time that the Atlanta Hawks were walking on Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Joe Johnson shook off a bad first quarter to finish with 22 points and Zaza Pachulia had 17 points and 11 rebounds off of the bench, posting Atlanta to a 119-104 win over Memphis.
Mike Bibby had 19 points and Marvin Williams poured in 15 for Atlanta, which shot 53-percent (42-of-80) from the field and finished with six players in double-figures.
"What we're doing now is trying to feature everyone in the offense," new Hawks coach Larry Drew told the team's television broadcast afterward. "When you look at our scoring tonight, it was pretty balanced. Joe did a great job finding people when he didn't have a shot."
The Hawks overcame seven turnovers in a sloppy first quarter by shooting 62-percent (13-for-21) from the field en route to taking a 30-22 lead. Pachulia and the Atlanta bench extended the lead to 12 at the break. The Atlanta reserve from the Republic of Georgia had 13 points and nine rebounds in the first two quarters before notching a double-double in the third.
"I'm just doing my job," Pachulia told SportSouth at the half. "I had opportunities and found position (on the offensive glass)."
Memphis tried to claw back into it in the third quarter, cutting the lead to four on Mike Connelly's bucket with 3:40 left in the frame. However, Atlanta embarked on a 12-0 run to end the quarter, punctuated by Pachulia's board on Hasheem Thabeet's dunk to give their new head coach his first win.
"It was great," Johnson said. "I give a lot of credit to our coaching staff to putting together a great game plan. And especially our bench for coming in the third quarter."
Atlanta won this one because of its depth and defense. The Hawks held a 44-39 edge on the boards and blocked nine shots while the bench outscored their Grizzlies counterparts, 50-28.
"Overall, I think the bench did a tremendous job," said Drew, who will take the game ball home with him after this one. "That's just how we have to play. Today we played the way we are capable of playing."
Things didn't bode well for Atlanta going into the opener. The club had struggled through most of the preseason while trying to figure out new coach Larry Drew's new motion offense. Atlanta finished the exhibition slate an Eastern Conference-worst 2-5.
In contrast, the Grizzlies soared through their first undefeated preseason in franchise history. But Memphis was without big man Marc Gasol (sprained left ankle) in this one and the young team, which is kind of like those not-so-deep Hawks teams of yesteryear, couldn't sustain a second injury when Zach Randolph (back) was limited after colliding with Atlanta's Al Horford early in the first quarter.
Obviously, the preseason doesn't matter that much.
"All the work we've been putting into practice has been paying off," Bibby told the team's TV telecast afterward. "Everybody was having fun, you were seeing smiles on people's faces out there. It's a lot easier when you are having fun."