I'm not entirely convinced that the Milwaukee Bucks wanted to win last night. Michael Redd scored 19 points in the first quarter (after which the Bucks led 37-32) but attempted only 3 more shots the rest of the game and sat out the entire fourth quarter. Most suspicious of all is that Redd, when guarding Marvin Williams, allowed Williams to score on a post-up.
Andrew Bogut scored 23 points in the first half (after which the Bucks trailed 65-60) on 13 shots and 6 free throws. Bogut attempted just 5 shots and no free throws in the second half before Marvin Williams bloodied (broke?) his nose five minutes into the fourth quarter.
Royal Ivey played the last 13:43 of the game. Presumably on purpose.
It was as unconvincing a 19-point win as one could witness. Al Horford (certainly) and Josh Smith (arguably) played even worse than they did the night before in Chicago. Joe Johnson had an excellent night but it came on the back of making some extraordinarily difficult shots during the contested first half. Fair play to Joe for making them but a consistently productive offense isn't built on push/touch 28-footers and fall-away three-pointers from behind the backboard as the shot clock expires. Especially if Mike Bibby's left thumb is a consistent bother for any length of time.
On the positive side, Acie Law IV played an excellent game, raising hopes that he could carry a heavier load if necessary. On the other hand, Law's excellent first half performance didn't earn him any second half playing time until after both Bibby was in the locker room receiving X-rays on his thumb (negative) and the Hawks had a 16-point lead. No need to encourage or reward the point guard of the future for his good play because you're worried your team will choke away another lead that would possibly be bigger if you hadn't wasted 5 minutes of the first half playing 4-on-5 so everyone could once again see that Mario West* (It only took him 18 seconds to commit a foul.) and Solomon Jones (The man fell down trying to catch a pass.) are not NBA players.
*I wonder whether Mike Woodson found that 45 seconds of the first quarter when Mario West and Royal Ivey shared the court arousing.
This paragraph will stay as the previous began: positive. Marvin Williams remembered how he was a useful offensive player over the first couple of months of the season and limited his offensive contributions to catching and shooting. Not coincidentally he was 7-9 from the field as opposed to last night's cavalcade of poor post-up and off the dribble moves which lead to a 3-14 shooting night. Josh Childress again showed why he must be re-signed this summer, adding 5 assists and 4 steals to his typically excellent shooting night: 7-12 from the field, 1-2 on threes, and 5-6 from the line. Zaza Pachulia chipped in 9 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks to give the Hawks, for one night, the illusion of a real, live eight-man rotation.
Pachulia's more significant than normal minutes came as a result of Woodson once again panicking at the prospect of Al Horford potentially getting into foul trouble but what are you going to do? That, like Woodson's Mario West fetish and accompanying belief that points allowed at the end of the first or second quarter somehow don't count as much is something we all have to live with for a couple more weeks. The next head coach, assuming he's remotely competent, is going to have one hell of a honeymoon period with the fan base.
Should anyone wish to prepare for Friday night's game against the Bulls with a little background as to why I was so incensed that the Hawks were outworked Tuesday night by a team in near total revolt, check out this post at Blog a Bull. For even more perspective on measuring the distance between the Hawks and a competent team, check out how Marc Narducci of The Phildelphia Inquirer wraps up his (poorly formatted) blog post-mortem of the 76ers blowing out the Bulls last night:
"...it’s hard to find a more cohesive bunch than the Sixers and a more dispirited group than the Bulls."I've seen one group with less spirit than the Bulls this week.