Sunday, November 08, 2009

Quotes, Notes, and Links: Hawks 125 Nuggets 100



Josh Smith:
"It's a big statement. Having a letdown loss last night, and being able to come in and beat the number two or three team last year in the Western Conference. That's a big boost of confidence. I had opportunities to succeed and I seized the moment. I have wonderful guys to pass the ball to and I was really looking to crash the boards."
Joe Johnson:
"I think we still have a little bit of immaturity on this team. And that's something we've got to look forward to working on. In no way possible should Charlotte beat us by 20, even though they were at home."
Which one is supposed to be the immature one?

Jamal Crawford was also looking forward rather than talking about the past:
"It's big, more mentally than anything else. We had tough loss against Charlotte last night, and we beat a tough Denver team. We didn't lay down, and we fought. From start to finish, I thought we were really good as a team."
Mike Woodson:
"I know George [Karl] is probably in there wondering where was the energy for his group tonight, just like I was last night, shaking my head."
George Karl:
"Atlanta has as many good one-on-one players as any in the NBA, and that showed."
It's funny because it's true. Last night, the Hawks did an excellent job of spreading the floor and letting players beat their defender one-on-one. That there was rarely a help defender arriving for Denver speaks to the their role in Atlanta's outstanding offensive night.

In other news, I'm getting pretty damn good at predicting* what people will say after basketball games.

George Karl:
"No one should feel happy about what went on, but no one should feel like it's broken, either. Anytime you go on a six-game road trip, if you can win half your games or more, it's a great success, and we have a chance of doing it."
*I'm aware this is not a gift of great utility.

Karl further demonstrates how to criticize a team while taking responsibility for one's own role in a short-term failure:
"Offensively, we take way too many tough shots and a lot of that should be on me. We don't have enough sets in right now, and today our playbook was limited because Kenyon gives us a versatility, and I think we missed that."
John Hollinger elaborates on how the Nuggets missed Kenyon Martin and JR Smith (and not just because Renaldo Balkman and Joey Graham aren't nearly as good):
With Kenyon Martin’s mid-range threat replaced by non-shooter Renaldo Balkman and Smith replaced by another weak perimeter threat in Joey Graham, the Nuggets made only two triples on the night. Worse yet, their drivers constantly faced crowds of Hawks at the rim, as Atlanta saw no need to respect any perimeter shooter besides Chauncey Billups. Atlanta returned nine Denver shots to sender, including six blocks by Josh Smith.
The Human Highlight Blog has a fine appreciation of Josh Smith's performance:
Through all the times we've pulled our hair out watching him, Atlanta's Saturday night 125-100 victory over the suddenly staggering Denver Nuggets showed why you just can't give up on a player like Josh Smith.

Smith was omnipresent throughout the dominant home team win on both ends of the floor. He consistently challenged the Nuggets interior on his way to an 8-10/2-4, 22 point night on the one end while stamping the defensive effort of the evening with his (6) blocks and a level of activity that had the Nuggets either settling for outside shots or looking over their shoulder.

The Nuggets had no answer for Smith's ridiculous athleticism and new found respect for attacking the hoop. He is one of the best finishers in the league now and he made the case over and over again against anyone Denver threw at him.

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