Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hawks 105 Kings 100



Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
ATL 98.6 1.06 47.2 25 28.8 12.2
SAC 98.6 1.01 48.8 22.9 19 16.2

Mike Bibby's defense gets criticized frequently in this space but the Hawks (probably) don't win last night* without him making two** good defensive plays in the game's final minute.

*They probably don't win without his 29 points on 19 shots with an eFG% of 63.1, either (eFG% for rest of team: 42.7), but that's a little more expected.

**Three if you extend the time frame back to 2:13 of the fourth and give him credit for conning the referee with a flop that drew Jason Thompson's fifth foul. I'm not entirely convinced there was contact on the play. A second camera angle might have cleared that up but the game was broadcast on SportSouth, and thus brought to us by a single, low-definition camera.
  1. Up 102-100 (thanks to a nifty clutch bucket from Joe Johnson) with 19 seconds left, Beno Udrih (who, frankly, had his way with Bibby most of the night) threatened to beat Bibby off the dribble and get free in the lane but Bibby stripped the ball which was recovered by Josh Smith who threw ahead to Joe Johnson who was fouled.
  2. Johnson only made one of his two free throws (This team does nothing to simplify matters for themselves.) so Bobby Jackson had a shot to tie the game with 9 seconds left. Jackson missed. Bibby boxed out Jason Thompson sufficiently well to draw Thompson's sixth foul as the rookie tried to grab the rebound.
The second play tantalizes. Sure, it might be a one-off play, a veteran getting the better of a rookie for a split second but couldn't it also be a first glimpse of the team making a concerted effort to improve their pitiful defensive rebounding? When was the last time Mike Bibby boxed someone out on the low block? Especially in his 45th minute of game action.

Al Horford (13 defensive rebounds) and Marvin Williams (7 defensive rebounds) led the improved effort ont he defensive glass. Sure Sacramento's only 24th in the league in offensive rebounding but the Hawks played without Josh Smith* and Zaza Pachulia for long stretches due to foul trouble that never materialized. Smith sat with two fouls for the final 19:32 of the first half (which ended with the Hawks down 4). He played the entire second half (during which the Hawks outscored the Kings by 9 points) and finished the game with three personal fouls. Pachulia was +10 in 9:47 in the first half. While he sat (and Solomon Jones played and played and fouled Kevin Martin on a made three-pointer and played some more) for the final 9:44 of the first half, the Hawks were outscored by 10 points.

*Who is apparently trying to stop wasting possessions on three-point attempts (just four in his last 17 games) without becoming a better basketball player. He doesn't make those long two-point jumpers appreciably more often than three-pointers, and, on the infrequent occasions they go in they're only worth, you know, two points. Factor in career lows in FT%, blocks (both in volume and rate), and rebound rate (both offensive and total) and Smith's season is, to date, a massive disappointment.

Horford complemented his rebounding effort with a strong offensive game, scoring 18 points on 12 shots, grabbing 5 offensive rebounds, and dishing 4 assists against a single turnover. Williams continued his offensive struggles since Joe Johnson returned to the lineup. In Johnson's absence, Williams, serving as a primary option on offense, scored 52 points in two games, 29 of those points at the free throw line. In the five games since Johnson has returned, Williams has scored just 49 points and attempted only 17 free throws.

Perhaps, if the Hawks were to integrate all of their offensive talent into the offense they wouldn't have to struggle to beat an 11-win team that was without 40% of their starting lineup. Maybe not, though, as there would still be the defensive mediocrity to overcome.

But, hey, the Hawks are 10 games over .500 and have a three-and-a-half game cushion for the fourth seed in the East. Things could be, nay, things have been much worse. I'll try and keep the gnawing concern that there's no good way to get this collection of players (and contracts) from 45 to 55 wins at bay until the off-season.


JMar said...

Can we get a quick word on how ridiculously stupid you have to be to get a lane violation on a first free throw attempt, up by two at the end of the game? Classic Josh Smith attempt to give a game away.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I was just going to comment on that to. That was such an unbelievably stupid play, especially since it directly resulted in another point since a missed free throw got turned into a made free throw.

Although it seems that the norm with Josh these days is a collection of ill-advised shots, monster attacks of the basket, and headscratching decisions that frustrate to the point where I wonder if he should even be in the game...

Bret LaGree said...

The really interesting thing was Smith's displeasure with Woodson getting on him about the lane violation. That took me aback and I'm pretty inured to Smith's on-court displays of immaturity.

Drew Ditzel said...

i reminded it last night, and unless his feet are over the line, it looks like Horford actually committed the offense and they just gave Josh's number.

i might have seen wrong though. I was cussing mightily at the tv at that point.

Bret LaGree said...


I re-wound a couple of times to try and see what happened. I couldn't see anything but I was focusing on Smith and production cut to the free throw attempt mid-stroke so I just figured he did something off-screen.

Maybe it was Horford all along.

JMar said...

Woodson has no control over Smith. I'd love to see him treat Smith even a fraction of the way he treats Acie Law. Three-pointer with 15 on the shot clock? Bench. Trying to draw a foul (and failing) instead of making a legitimate effort at scoring, and then screaming at the ref? Bench. Bench him for everything but defensive lapses, since then he'd never get to play.

rbubp said...

That's it, JMar. THe best, biggest reason Woodson cannot get this team to really focus is because he will not alter his substitution patterns...the only, only way to get benched is the two fouls in the first half rule--just another example of Woody's never-ending arbitrary stupidity.

Smith's arse has needed to be on the bench a lot lately. I need an explanation for why all of his numbers are so far down this year.

Simplest way to increase the win total? Sign everyone and get a better coach.