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I would not have guessed that the first minute and thirty-nine seconds which saw the Hawks fall behind 6-0 and made Mike Woodson feel the need to re-visit the game plan over the course of a timeout would be far from the most dispiriting stretch of Atlanta Hawks basketball I would witness last night.
I don’t have words to describe the Hawks’ offense in the fourth quarter. Which is fine. All I need is one.
There was no dribble penetration. There was no movement once Joe Johnson caught the ball and drew a double-team in the post. There was little effort to post up any other Hawk so as to place an extra shooter (Johnson) on the perimeter.
To his credit, Josh Smith noticed that last variety of incompetence (as did whoever asked the question that prompted the following):
"You just have to go with what the coach calls and the calls weren't for me. It's nothing for me to be mad at. I just have to get it somewhere else, whether it's off the rebound or running the lanes."The Hawks just stood around. Johnson stood in the post. The entry pass was usually delivered to him several seconds after the passer had picked up his dribble. Johnson caught the ball, waited for the double-team, and then waited for someone to move to an open space on the floor before forcing a difficult shot or passing the ball to someone who should not be receiving a pass 20 feet from the basket as the shot clock is winding down.
Not being bound by the strictures of the shot clock, I consider myself still to be waiting for someone to move without the ball. I am not, however, holding my breath.
With 8:10 left in the third quarter, Joe Johnson made a fall-away three-pointer in the corner at (or slightly after) the shot clock expired to cap a 13-2 Atlanta run and put the Hawks ahead 52-46. Atlanta scored 26 points over the final 20:10.
As bad as the offensive play was, and it was awful, the inability or unwillingness to try different things in the half-court offense is more upsetting. It’s not a case of a team not wanting to stray from its strengths. It’s a case of a team not wanting to admit that what it’s trying and trying (and trying and trying, ad nauseum) does not work very well. Is posting up Josh Smith or Al Horford or running the pick-and-roll with Acie Law IV going to make the half-court offense worse?
Portland Monday then the first trip out West. I’m not optimistic.