Hey, I called it. Joe Johnson's results-oriented emotional rollercoaster continued:
"I thought we were past this but I was wrong. We still complain too much. To be honest, we just didn't have the effort needed to do this right. If shots aren't falling we stand around. We think offense more than defense. And you're not going to win in this league like that."I think the cause-and-effect relationship between standing around and shots not falling may, in fact, be the reverse of that which Mr. Johnson states. Of the seven field goals he made during his 18 point first quarter explosion, five were assisted by a teammate. It's a lot easier to get a good look in transition, on the move without the basketball, or when the ball's moving out of a double-team than it is by dribbling in isolation against multiple, set defenders.
"We have to focus on the defensive end. We have enough scorers that we're going to score the ball. We're a little too worried about our offense. If you look at any of the great teams that win championships, they do it with defense. If we want to get on that level, we have to start worrying about our defense."Mike Woodson continued the theme of energy deficiency:
"I thought tonight we were so sluggish with the basketball, throwing it all over the gym. They had a lot to do with it because they got up on us defensively and we went the other way."Here's my issue with assigning blame for most losses to energy or effort: When Bibby's three-pointer made the score 70-74 with 6:44 left in the third quarter, no one thought the Hawks were sluggish. Forcing Phil Jackson to put his starters back in the game for the final 6:40 is not indicative of a lack of effort. The Hawks lost because they got stagnant* offensively and were not in position to rotate back defensively when the began to turn the ball over quickly and repeatedly.
*Due to (in order of importance) 1) Not getting stops defensively, 2) The Lakers defense in the third quarter, 3) Design.
Atlanta's 3rd Quarter Turnovers
|Horford||10:07||Smith blocks Odom layup|
|Horford||5:30||loss of possession|
|Crawford||2:56||Bryant missed FGA|
Peachtree Hoops raises the question of why Joe Johnson played just 9:21 of the first quarter:
Joe was 7-8 in the first quarter with one foul, and Mike Woodson sat him toward the end of the first quarter. You can say that Joe was not going to be enough. You can say the Lakers are better than Joe 'freaking" Johnson, but I would like the chance to prove you right. Coaches don't take out guys that hot in 9 year old church basketball. It makes no sense. Yes, he may have cooled off. Really, he had to, dude was on pace for 90 points after the first eight minutes. But why does your own coach cool him off?One must feel sympathy for Mike Woodson, who, through three games, has been criticized both for playing Johnson too much (39 minutes in a close game on opening night) and too little (36 minutes last night in Los Angeles). Pinning the blame on Woodson for Johnson's 1-8 shooting in the final three quarters ignores the impact of Johnson's teammates in his hot first quarter (see above) and Ron Artest's defense against Johnson.
UPDATED 2:05pm EST
Kurt at Forum Blue and Gold offers an informed outsider's perspective on this:
Kobe was on Johnson for the first quarter, Artest on Josh Smith. Kobe started “playing free safety” as he likes to call it (we here have called it many other, less kind things). On one play in particular, Kobe left Johnson alone at the three-point line to double Horford inside trying to swipe at the ball for a steal, and Horford kicked it out for an open look by Johnson that he nailed. We all know you shouldn’t leave one of the best pure shooters in the game, but Kobe has and will. In the first quarter, six of those seven baskets by Johnson were assisted — credit here to the Hawks for making the pass to the open guy, these are not your Memphis Grizzlies. But Kobe was leaving him open for those shots.