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One of my complaints regarding the Hawks' over-reliance on Joe Johnson is that every NBA team employs at least one player whose on-court value lies largely in his ability to guard opposing wings. I stand by that belief. In general. Currently, the Washington Wizards do not have anyone on their active roster who can even passably defend an All-Star caliber wing. Thus, last night, Joe Johnson got to do whatever he wanted: 9-16 FGA, 3-8 3PTA, 8 assists, and 0 turnovers in 34-and-a-half minutes.
Johnson's line could have been gaudier had he not missed some open shots. Of his 16 shot attempts, only his end of the second quarter buzzer beater was closely defended. Anytime the Wizards had to defend for more than 3.7 seconds they were at Johnson's mercy.
The Wizards need both Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison to play exceptionally well to win a game* right now. Jamison struggled to make shots last night, there was no one to pick up the slack, and the game stopped being competitive about half-way through the third quarter.
*See Sunday's 2 point win over Indiana where Butler and Jamison combined to score 69 points.
Mike Woodson took advantage of the weakened Wizards and rested all of the starters* (save Joe Johnson, who played the first six minutes of the quarter after resting during the end of the third) during the fourth quarter during which time the Hawks bench took advantage of the Wizards.
*Al Horford, suffering from a migraine, was already long gone at this point.
Against Javaris Crittenton, Nick Young, and Juan Dixon it may have been, but Acie Law IV scored 11 points, dished 7 assists, and did not turn the ball over in the game's final 15:28. Mo Evans, Flip Murray, and birthday boy Zaza Pachulia each took more than 10 shots and scored more than 10 points in extended playing time. Ideally, both the first and second units will be fresh and sharp in Detroit tonight.
After the game, Josh Smith's attentions had already turned to the Pistons and beyond:
"Detroit is right on our heels in the standings. So this sets up like a playoff game in terms of intensity. And it’s our chance to finish off on a positive note, because you never know what’s going to happen on that Western Conference road trip after the break."Joe Johnson on Mike Bibby's return:
"Mike not only controls us on offense, defensively he gets everybody in their spots with his talking and helping. He makes other teams play honest."Woodson on Mike Bibby's return:
"It’s great to have him back on the floor. He’s a big part of what we have done and what we do. He makes things happen on the floor by scoring and passes to open guys when needed."Woodson welcomed the blowout:
"We hadn’t had a lot of games like this where we had the opportunity to rest our starters. It’s kind of nice, from a coaching standpoint, when you can sit over there and rest those guys and give some of your other guys a chance to play those minutes."Nothing new on Acie's blog yet.