Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hawks 102 Suns 101

Boxscore

Gameflow

Highlights

Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
PHX 90.9
1.111
45.3 32.7
31.8 14.3
ATL 90.9 1.122 43.9
25.6
42.6
8.8

It's a funny game. Had Jamal Crawford missed his guarded* 28-footer at the buzzer he would have shared blame with Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby for succumbing to the lure of the jump shot against Phoenix's zone rather than getting the ball inside to Al Horford for whom Phoenix had no answer all night. And, had a stunning string of events not occurred in the final six seconds of the game, Crawford would not have had the chance to redeem himself and salvage an improbable victory for his team.

*Cruelly, Phoenix's defense of Atlanta's final in-bounds play was far and away the best thing they did, collectively and individually, in the game's final moments.

Mike Woodson:
"Everything has to go right in those situations."
To wit:
  • Josh Smith makes his first free throw to cut the lead to three.
  • Josh Smith misses his second free throw.
  • Steve Nash clatters into an otherwise untroubled Grant Hill, knocking the rebound out of Hill's hands and knocking Hill to the ground.
  • The loose ball goes straight to Jamal Crawford, who is unguarded under the rim as it was a long rebound off the free throw miss, and he lays it in.
  • Amare Stoudemire misses the first and makes the second free throw, and, in making one of two in that order, Phoenix has just a two-point lead and Atlanta loses no time regaining possession of the ball.
  • Hill and Nash deny Joe Johnson, who is moving away from the basket and toward the in-bounds passer (Mike Bibby) and looks in no position to get an on-balance shot off in the time remaining, the ball so it goes to Crawford 40 feet from the basket, but square to the rim with time to take two dribbles before launching the game winner over a well-positioned but ultimately helpless Jared Dudley.
Woodson:
"Smoove was trying to make the free throw . . . and the ball just dropped right to Jamal. It gave us a chance to set our defense to foul."
Crawford's three (in collaboartion with the events listed above) spared the Hawks the embarrassment of losing the game in essentially the same way they lost at home to the Knicks on New Year's Day. The lead lost wasn't nearly as large, the opponent better, and the opposing guard they were unable to handle in isolation Steve Nash rather than Nate Robinson but the ease with which the Hawks were convinced to shoot jump shots* against a zone defense in a game where Al Horford, through three quarters, was the team's most dangerous offensive player was all too familiar. I doubt last night will be the last time this team faces a zone late in a close game. Both the plan of attack and the execution must improve.

Lesson learned?

Joe Johnson:
"We showed a lot of guts, poise and character."
I guess we'll have to wait and see though things Joe Johnson says after game shouldn't be taken too seriously. Such as:
"We drew it up to get an easy basket. Luckily, we were able to get the 3."
*14 of Atlanta's 23 (including 10 of their first 14 attempts as they went from a 78-75 lead at the start of the quarter to an 86-92 deficit with 4:17 remaining) fourth quarter field goal attempts were jump shots of at least 14 feet. They made 4 with 2 of the makes being three-pointers.

Noticed while perusing the Hoopdata boxscore...
  • 49 of Atlanta's 90 field goal attempts came at least 16 feet from the basket against a team featuring Channing Frye and Robin Lopez at center.
  • Horford and Josh Smith gave the Hawks a chance to win the game however improbably by combining to shoot 8-13 at the rim (plus the 15 foul shots they earned) and Horford making all five of his long two-point jump shots.
  • The rest of the team was 3-12 at the rim, attempted 12 free throws, and made 7 of 21 long two-point jump shots.
  • Lest he escape unscathed, let it be known that Josh Smith took three more long jump shots, one of which rendered Hubie Brown speechless.
Jamal Crawford:
"I knew I was going for a win. It felt good. I started backing the other way."
The irony of Jamal Crawford getting back on defense after the buzzer has sounded is not lost on me.

Amare Stoudemire:
"That's what we wanted -- a well-contested shot. But we didn't want to lose. Tough game. A tough game for us."

2 comments:

Joshua Backer said...

I was at this game, a fantastic finish...it was tough for the hawks with the sun's 8 man zone (5 players and 3 refs) -- I mean, how do the suns get 2 charges in the first half and the hawks get four fouls in the first 2 minutes of the fourth. Steve Nash should've had a stunt man for one of the flops he took from 6-2 Mike bibby...OK OK the refs did try to make up for the lopsided calling by giving the suns 3 fouls in about 30seconds near the end of the game...probably the best game ending I've seen live, but definitely the worst officiating...was david stern at Phillips??? Way to pull it out besides the continued over reliance on jumpshots, under reliance on horfy, an extended appearance by super mario, and the turd of a game bibby left in the punchbowl

Pearson said...

It sure was fun to pull one out like that, stealing it away at the very end. The Hawks big man were terrific tonight, Smith was extremely active blocking shots and getting rebounds, while getting his offense together after a horrendous first quarter shooting in the paint. Horford was even better, as his mid range jumper was just about automatic last night. Also, he did a great job helping keep Nash in check. He is one of the best in the NBA among bigs when he's switched onto a guard, consistently forcing contested shots and cutting off driving lanes.

As you pointed out Bret, too many jumpers in the fourth quarter and not enough going to the rim, especially with the way our bigs were playing last night. However, we got away with it. With OKC coming in next, I think we will again have an advantage with our bigs, so hopefully we can take advantage for 4 quarters, instead of just taking advantage some of the time