Friday, December 04, 2009

Knicks 114 Hawks 107



Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
NY 87.6
64.7 25.6
22.6 13.7
ATL 87.6 1.221 47.8

That pass the Hawks got defensively thanks to the abomination that is the Toronto defense? It's been revoked. In eight of the last nine quarters, stretching back to the decisive fourth quarter in Detroit on Sunday, the Hawks have allowed at least 26 points. That the one exception, tonight's third quarter, came in the midst of a game wherein the league's 22nd-best offense* scored 95 points in the other three quarters, including 31 in this decisive fourth quarter fails to balance the scales in any substantive way.

*entering the game

The season-worst 121 points per 100 possessions the Hawks allowed Toronto was rendered essentially irrelevant due to the aforementioned Raptor defense. Tonight, New York scored a new season-worst 130 points per 100 possessions. David Lee and Al Harrington and Larry Hughes and Chris Duhon scored at will. Despite their fourth quarter offensive performance (or lack thereof) the Hawks posted their fourth-best offensive efficiency of the season yet lost rather handily. To look at it another way, after their 11-0 start to the game, the Hawks were outscored at home by the Knicks 114-96 over 45 minutes.

Your author has long championed Josh Smith's potential. This year, he's consistently achieved expected yet even I can't place much blame for this loss on his second quarter ejection. The ejection is inexcusable. It's no shock to see Josh Smith complain about a no-call after he's not fouled. I suspect that the impetus for his admittedly more demonstrative than normal complaints was not the no-call so much as his embarrassment over the breakaway dunk he blew moments earlier. Either way, it's a terrible manifestation of what had been, year-to-date, at worst, repressed immaturity from Smith.

Smith's ejection certainly did not help the Hawks' defense in his absence but it doesn't absolve his teammates. Mike Bibby and Jamal Crawford were the chief offenders, their latent defensive limitations exacerbated by poor offensive nights: 6 points on 6 shots (plus two assists) from Bibby, 12 points on 11 shots (plus two assists) from Crawford in 65 combined* minutes.

*The Hawks were +4 in the 90 second-half seconds Jeff Teague was on the court. For what it's worth.

The combination of Hawks offense/Knicks defense means it's not all bad news. Al Horford (17 points on 11 shots, 14 rebounds 4 assists, 0 turnovers) was excellent before and after Smith's ejection. Joe Johnson (29 points on 24 shots, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 turnover) was excellent after. Marvin Williams (20 points on 17 shots) was excellent before.

It wasn't enough, though. Not near enough. Now, the Hawks could go to Dallas tomorrow night and befuddle the excellent Maverick offense and confuse us further as to the team's potential but between now and then few positive thoughts will be thunk. Perhaps that's necessary to fuel the required defensive energy when confronted with the far superior offense they'll face next.

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