Josh Smith is talented enough to help the Hawks win basketball games. His performance in the final three minutes last night makes me question whether he is capable of making a conscious effort to help the team win basketball games. He plays very well (most of the time) but he just plays.
With 2:55 left in the game and the Hawks up 91-84, Anthony Johnson missed a three-pointer from the corner late in the shot clock. LaMarcus Aldridge blocked out Josh Smith and grabed the rebound. Smith made little effort to get back on defense, trailing even Aldridge after he has made the outlet pass. Smith had been
Outlaw sprints to the corner. Aldridge runs down the center of the court. Anthony Johnson, Joe Johnson, and Marvin Williams pick up their men. Al Horford is left with two Blazers to cover. Outlaw is set up in the corner, Aldridge is headed straight down the lane. Smith is in the general vicinity of the trailing Aldridge so Horford heads to Outlaw in the corner under the assumption that Josh Smith is cognizant of the situation and interested in playing team defense. Horford turns out to be mistaken. Just inside the the three-point line, Smith peels off Aldridge and jogs toward Outlaw. Horford attempts to recover while Brandon Roy uses the unguarded Aldridge to get free at the top of the key and head toward the hoop. Roy makes his layup and the late arriving Horford fouls him. Roy makes the free throw and the game is 91-87.
On the Atlanta possession beginning at 1:45 in the fourth quarter with the Hawks leading 93-89, Smith attacks the basket. He draws two defenders, the second of whom is LaMarcus Aldridge who has left Al Horford unguarded at the basket, approximately three feet away from Smith. Smith either never sees or chooses to ignore Horford in order to attempt a heavily contested, contorted shot that Brandon Roy blocks.
While his teammates get back on defense Smith takes a moment to strike his familiar, petulant, arms-raised pose to the baseline official. Smith's protest delays him in getting back on defense and throws Atlanta's defensive assignments out of whack. With his teammates covering for his absence, Smith takes the Portland player farthest from the basket as the Blazers set up their half-court offense. That Blazer is Brandon Roy. Less than 10 seconds run off the shot clock before Roy blows past Smith and makes another layup, pulling Portland within two.
The Blazers win because Atlanta won't score again. The Hawks scored two points on their final eight possessions most of which consisted of Joe Johnson dribbling, unable to penetrate the Portland defense before the shot clock forces him either to take a horrible shot or turn the ball over. Atlanta built a lead of as many as 19 points out of transition offense, ball, and player movement. When they really needed a basket they abandoned each of those elements.
There was one exception to that in the final 3:42...
With 2:03 left Al Horford saved Josh Smith after Outlaw (for the umpteenth time last week) beat him off the dribble. Horford contested Outlaw's shot in the lane, grabbed the rebound, and immediately fired an outlet pass to Anthony Johnson. To his credit, Smith sprinted toward the offensive end and received an alley-oop pass from Johnson.
That would be Atlanta's only made basket in the final 3:42. It was the only possession in the final 3:42 where Joe Johnson did not touch the ball and Mike Woodson did not call a play.
Josh Smith Jump Shot Log
January 27, 2008 @Portland