Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hawks 108 Grizzlies 94


Hoopdata Boxscore



Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
ATL 85.6
60.1 25.7
31.3 17.5
MEM 85.6 1.098 52.5

The Grizzlies have now capitulated twice to the Hawks this season. Their home court advantage delayed the end of the competitive portion of the game by one quarter but the result was the same. Whether its better coaching, better team construction, greater maturity, or simply greater talent the Atlanta Hawks understand that the Memphis Grizzlies cannot compete with them for 48 minutes. Thus, a nine-point deficit with 2:19 left in the second quarter inspired no panic. 103 seconds later the deficit was gone. 8 minutes and 1 second after that, the Hawks took the lead for good.

I don't believe effort failed the Grizzlies so much as they failed to maintain their purpose. Zach Randolph repeatedly got great post position against Josh Smith in the first half. In the third quarter, Randolph went 1-6 from the floor, with half of his field goal attempts coming after grabbing an offensive rebound and two others on jump shots of 20 or more feet. Now, the Hawks gave Smith more help in the third quarter, effective help from Al Horford, but neither Randolph nor his teammates continued to work to get the ball deep in the post quickly.

Memphis lacked the ability to make any sort of defensive adjustment, even to keep up with Jamal Crawford while Joe Johnson and/or Josh Smith were out of the game. Crawford scored 15 of his 28 points (and earned both of his assists) in a 5 minute, 13 second stretch at the end of the third and start of the fourth quarter during which Atlanta's lead ballooned from four to sixteen points. The bulk of Crawford's damage was done alongside Mo Evans, Joe Smith, Marvin Williams, and one of Horford or Josh Smith. There was no deception as to how the Hawks would attack. They simply challenged Memphis to stop Crawford. Memphis could not.

Nor could Memphis continue, in the second half, to force turnovers to create transition offense. Atlanta turned the ball over just four times in the second half before the benches emptied and those four turnovers led to just four fast break points. The Grizzlies scored 31 points over that 20:18 stretch of the second half. Quite a difference from the first half, where nine Atlanta turnovers contributed to Memphis scoring 16 of their 55 points in transition.

Mike Woodson:
"It was like an old-school shootout [in the first half]. I let you score, you let me score. In the second half, I felt like our defense stepped up to do what they needed to do."
Lionel Hollins:
"We tried playing zone in the fourth quarter and they destroyed the zone as well. Jamal Crawford got going and made a lot of shots."
Jamal Crawford:
"[I]t wasn't just me. It was all my teammates finding me and coaching running some great plays. I had the easy part, just knocking the shots down."
Woodson on Crawford:
"It's what the guy can do. It's a guy that can put the ball in the hole. We've got to utilize it and put him into positions where he won't fail. He has helped us tremendously this year. He has been able to score the ball and has been able to make plays for other people when he had the ball in his hands."
Emphasis mine as the head coach succinctly explains Jamal Crawford's usefulness and success this season. Crawford is not an appreciably difference player but he's playing in a context that maximizes his strengths and minimizes his weaknesses.

Hollins, again:
"I think we've overachieved a little bit in what were doing. We had great chemistry and were coming together. We've gotten a little bit tired. We have to work extremely hard to win a game, and we have worked hard. We're set at 26-25. Could we have won more games? Yes. Should we have won more games? I don't know. But I'm excited where we are at versus where we were when I took over this team last year. I'd like to keep that in perspective as we go forward. We're a team that's trying to overchive and a team that's trying to get some respect around the league from our peers."
A fair assessment of the Grizzlies, in my view.

Peachtree Hoops:
[T]hat was a surprisingly good win. Maybe better put, that was surprisingly good offense. Especially in the face of incredible offense by the opposing team for two quarters. If you take away the turnovers, this is as good as the Hawks get on offense. That is not to say it as good as they could be, or even are, but as the Hawks are built and run, that is as good as they can play on offense turning the ball over 15 times.

I say that because I am a sucker for diversity and made jump shots.
Now, there's a T-shirt idea.

Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk:
There were moments during this game when I was actually rooting for a turnover in a half court set because it leads to beautiful fast breaks by both teams. But they will run on anything, even a made basket -- which led to my favorite play of the game (mid third quarter): OJ Mayo slipped out off a Hawks make, got the long pass ahead of the pack and was heading for a layup but Marvin Williams raced down and blocked it off the backboard, right to the hands of Zach Randolph trailing the play, and as he goes up Josh Smith comes running into the play and swats it from behind. The Hawks do not make it easy on you.

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