Sunday, December 06, 2009

Hawks 80 Mavericks 75




Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
ATL 85.6
37.1 15.7
29.1 10.5
DALL 85.6 0.877 43.3

Jamal Crawford:
"It's a big win. If you asked people, they probably would have thought we'd win [Friday] night and lose [Saturday]. It flip-flopped. The league is funny like that sometimes."
One night, the Hawks show capacity to slow down the Knick offense at home. The next night, the Hawks thoroughly stifle the Maverick offense in Dallas. This is why I don't write preview posts. This is also why professional basketball fascinates. Two teams, two good teams turned in good efforts that created highly improbable results.

If losing to New York Friday night at home felt like giving a game away, last night's win had to feel like stealing one. Atlanta suffered through 16- and 14-point quarters. The Hawks didn't make a field goal, scoring just one point in the final 7:19 of the second quarter. Dallas reduced a 13-point deficit to a single point during that stretch* and took the lead by scoring the first two baskets of the second half.

*It's difficult to credit Dallas with making a run as they went scoreless themselves for 4:18 of that stretch.

Dallas couldn't push their lead past four points. The Hawks got even less than a minute after that Maverick high-water mark, never trailed again, and took the lead for good on a Joe Johnson runner that put them up 66-64 with 10:25 left in the game.

Last night was an example of why, even when arguing that Joe Johnson needn't try and carry the offense every night, one must acknowledge he can and will be called upon to carry the offense some nights. Johnson made 13 of 24 field goals (his teammates were 19 of 65) and all four of his free throws (his teammates made 10 of 18 from the stripe) to score 31 of Atlanta's 80 points. The Hawks needed Johnson's productivity as Dirk Nowitzki was doing similar things for Dallas, scoring 32 of their 75 points on 24 shots of his own. With the All-Stars largely canceling each other out, the difference between victory and defeat may have been* that the other Hawks rebounded better and turned the ball over less often** even if they shot the ball worse than their Maverick counterparts.

*Without discounting the obvious fact that neither team has a chance to win if Johnson or Nowitzki doesn't score an out-sized portion of the team's points.

**The Hawks did turn the ball over one more time than the official record shows as Al Horford clearly committed a backcourt violation with the Hawks up 3 and less than 10 seconds remaining.

I don't think the Hawks planned to play a lot of 80-75 games this season* but for a game wherein Josh Smith and Al Horford grabbed just 12 rebounds while committing 10 fouls, Mike Bibby made just one of nine shots, Marvin Williams just one of seven, and Jamal Crawford just three of twelve, a couple of things went comfortingly according to plan.

*Mike Woodson's not complaining:
"It was one of those old, ugly, drawn-out games, but it's the kind of game sometimes I like."
Points for honesty and self-awareness.

Johnson was an effective primary scoring option. Williams was a major contributor on the defensive glass. Perhaps most importantly, Joe Smith provided competent relief to a starter (Josh Smith) in foul trouble. Joe Smith scored six points on four shots and grabbed four rebounds in a 10-minute stint that stretched from late in the third through most of the fourth quarter. Credit is also due Mike Woodson for not overreacting to Al Horford's fifth foul sitting him for just 1:52 before bringing him back for the final 5:16 of the game.

Joe Johnson:
"I thought we showed a lot of guts coming off a tough back-to-back to come in against a team as good as Dallas and win."
Mike Woodson:
"Joe was huge tonight. I thought when they went zone, we hung in there and made plays against the zone we needed to, and that's kind of what got us the spurt we needed and we were able to hold on."
Rick Carlisle:
"Once again, we struggled to shoot the ball and some of that certainly was Atlanta. They have length and they are hard to score against."
Chris Duhon will drink to that, coach.

The Human Highlight Blog is more torn between outcome and philosophy than am I though I'm feeling more torn after having read that.

Josh Smith is a year older, but little wiser one front:
Asked what he had learned from being ejected from the team's Friday night loss to New York, Smith said, "not to mess with sensitive referees, I guess," before laughing. "I didn't really say anything to get kicked out like that, but the lesson learned is just don't say anything at all," Smith said.

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