Disclaimer: The Hawks don't win that game very often. Detroit is the better team. If you wanted to argue that Atlanta got back in the game because Detroit lost interest in the game once they went up 15 less than 3 minutes into the second quarter, I'd concede at least part of the point. The Hawks played hard in the fourth quarter (6 of 14 possible offensive rebounds, 8 of 11 possible defensive rebounds, 9 free throw attempts) but executed poorly (3-19 from the field). Still, the Hawks made things more difficult than they needed to be and wasted a rare positive night registered in the Josh Smith Jump Shot Log.
My concerns, more or less chronologically...
Detroit built more than half of their 15-point lead in 3:05 seconds when Mike Woodson allowed them to play against the following lineup: Acie Law IV, Josh Childress, Marvin Williams, Lorenzen Wright, and Zaza Pachulia. None of those guys can create their own shot. At least three of them are average-at-best defensively. If you're going to cling to a Joe Johnson-centric offense, replace Marvin Williams with Johnson and get the Johnson post-ups and isolations out of your system while the second unit gets their minutes.
Tyronn Lue demonstrated amply in the second quarter that he could not guard Rodney Stuckey. Stuckey's not the first guy Lue can't guard (nor will Lue be the last guy that can't guard Stuckey) but Lue contributed enough offensively to keep from hurting the Hawks. Lue's second half appearance was a different story. Half-different anyway. Stuckey again did whatever he wanted but Lue killed the Hawks' offense (which never really recovered). Lue played 7:35 across the third and fourth quarters during which time Atlanta scored 9 points. The ninth point, courtesy a Rasheed Wallace technical, wasn't even created by the offense.
As with that bad second quarter lineup, it was obvious that things were not working long before a change was made. It's not like Woodson has a lot of options to sort through. Acie Law had a bad night, another one in which he compounded his mistakes by failing to convert the two good shots he created for himself. I don't blame Woodson for not putting him back in the game. Once it became clear that Lue was not productive, Woodson had a golden opportunity to ignore his roster's point guard deficiencies (in terms of talent, not numbers) and go big against the Stuckey/Rip Hamilton back court. How can you be so resistant to putting your best players on the floor?
Speaking of which, why didn't Al Horford play the final 1:37? Was Woodson afraid he would miss a free throw? set an illegal screen? get a rebound (16 more, 7 offensive last night for Al) or draw a foul? Maybe he decided Marvin Williams had broken out of his on-going slump by sitting on the bench for the last nine minutes of game time. Assuming Mike Woodson could make intelligent tactical decisions, why would he even bother with a roster this shallow?
Without further comment, I present the final two Hawks possessions both of which began with a sideline inbounds following a timeout:
- Down 3 with 22 seconds remaining, Joe Johnson throws a shot toward the backboard over his shoulder while stumbling backwards down the lane with 16 seconds remaining. Josh Smith gets the offensive rebound, is fouled, and makes one of two free throws.
- Down 4 with 14 seconds remaining, Joe Johnson shoots a 26-foot air ball with 10 seconds remaining.
February 12, 2008 vs. Detroit