I took in a cross-cultural doubleheader of mediocrity last night. I don't know who delivered a more disappointing performance, Joe Johnson or The Selmanaires.
The are nights when it's apparent that the Hawks need Joe Johnson to carry the offense and on some of those nights he's capable of doing so and on others he isn't but neither is he culpable for the offense's inadequacies.
Last night however, Johnson kept the ball out of the hands of the players capable of helping him carry the offensive burden. For the first time, I noticed either Johnson's inability to or disinterest in feeding the post. Al Horford isn't a polished post player yet but Hilton Armstrong isn't a polished post defender. Horford should have been allowed a chance to take advantage of Tyson Chandler's absence in the second half but he repeatedly failed to get the ball when he posted Armstrong up.
It's a shame the team doesn't utilize its smartest and most aggressive player more. Horford is certainly the Hawk most willing to push the basketball up the court. He's arguably the Hawks' best option to run the fast break. The sooner Mike Woodson treats Horford and Marvin Williams as members of the team equally valuable to Joe Johnson and Josh Smith, the better.
Admittedly, the game was likely lost due to Atlanta's awful backcourt defense. Chris Paul predictably toyed with Anthony Johnson all night (Paul made his first 7 shots of the night. Considering that Mo Williams was 9-9 from the field Wednesday night. That's at least 16 makes in a row by the opposing starting point guard. The last miss by an opposing starting point guard occurred when Kirk Hinrich has a shot blocked with 3:25 left in the second quarter on Tuesday.) but Byron Scott didn't even need Paul for most of the fourth quarter as Jannero Pargo lit up the Hawks like Jose Juan Barea, Eddie House, and Chris Duhon before him. If Peja Stojakovic had been able to make an open jump shot, New Orleans would have beaten the Hawks as badly as the Bulls did Tuesday night in Chicago.
Despite that, the most infuriating moment for this spectator was Mike Woodson's decision, with 6:26 left in third quarter and the Hawks' two-point halftime lead having been turned into a four point deficit, to replace Marvin Williams, who had scored the only 4 Hawks points (on a single field goal attempt and two free throws) of the quarter, rather than Joe Johnson or Josh Smith, who had combined for three missed shots and three turnovers in the quarter, with Josh Childress.
Mike Woodson can't identify (or can't utilize) his players strengths and he can't identify which of his players is playing well at any given moment. It's time for him to go.