Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hawks 110 Clippers 92




Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
ATL 91.7
54.4 30.4
22.2 9.8
LAC 91.7 1.003 56.2

Against a (purposely) weakened Clipper side all it took were a couple of brief bursts* of focused, effective play from the Hawks to win the game comfortably. It wasn't a night for over-exertion or proving anything beyond the fact that it's nicer to have Jeff Teague as a third point guard than Bobby Brown. It was a night for taking care of business with a minimum of fuss and the Hawks accomplished that.

*The 13-3 run from 7:19 to 3:50 of the second quarter and the 19-7 run over the first 5:17 of the fourth quarter proved sufficient.

Not surprisingly, it was Al Horford and Josh Smith rather than the not-so-fuss-averse Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford who went about their business with the greatest aplomb. Horford's career-high 31 points fuel headlines (and deservedly so) but it ought not be overlooked that 5 of his 12 field goals were assisted by Smith, nor that Horford earned four assists of his own. Against sterner opposition Smith might have earned another triple-double. Settling for 20 points (8-12 from the field* and 4-4 from the line), 9 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 steals will have to suffice until Friday night.

*With one miss being an end of quarter heave, and two others coming from unnecessary jump shots.

Peachtree Hoops:
It is not that every shot the Hawks took was easy and uncontested in the first half, but every shot they made was. Al Horford's shot chart in one awkward shaped circle around the basket because of dunk on top of dunk on top of layup. Most of that had to do with a lack of defense, but some of it should be credited to ball movement.
Chris Kaman has had excellent on/off defensive numbers the last couple of seasons. I don't watch enough Clipper basketball to judge with any accuracy how much of that was due to how well he and Camby complemented each other thought it both seems they would and seemed they did. I suspect it will be equally difficult to draw conclusions after Kaman plays alongside DeAndre Jordan, though, if Kaman's numbers remain strong when paired with the raw second-year player, I think we'd have to acknowledge that Kaman is a better defender than generally assumed.

As for the rest of the team...
  • Joe Johnson returned to the free throw line after a three* game absence.
  • Marvin Williams scored five points in the first eight minutes then attempted one more shot in the next 26 minutes. This is probably not just a systemic problem. Marvin may not know or may not be able to get the shots necessary to capitalize on his scoring skill.
  • Jamal Crawford was pretty terrible through three quarters (4 poins on 6 shots) but got to the line six times in the fourth quarter to finish with 12 points (on 8 shots) and earned five assists.
  • Mike Bibby has little left in the tank.
  • Jeff Teague, though, thrived in his (relatively) extended minutes, making his lone field goal attempt, getting to the free throw line, while refraining from committing a turnover while earning two assists, stealing the ball four times, and blocking another shot.
  • Zaza Pachulia looked healthier and was productive enough to allow Mike Woodson to give Horford and Smith plenty of rest.
*four if you count Sunday's All-Star game

Mike Woodson:
"Granted, they're a little short-handed, based on the trade today, but we couldn't concern ourselves with that. We just had to handle our business."
Zaza Pachulia:
"I can’t say all the pain is gone but I will take this one."
At ClipperBlog, DJ Foster considers the long-term benefits of the loss:
A loss is just a loss, and a defeat to the Hawks is to be expected given the circumstances. But a win? A win tonight would have made an even bigger scapegoat out of Baron Davis, who sat out with a sore back. A win tonight would have slightly dinged whatever trade value Baron has left. A win tonight would have required us to put at least a little hope back into the season, in Steve Blake, and in Kim Hughes among others. Does any actual good come from that scenario?
At TrueHoop, Kevin Arnovitz delineates the strategic thinking behind last night's weakened opposition:
The Clippers will enter the summer with a skeletal roster consisting of only Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, Blake Griffin, Chris Kaman and DeAndre Jordan -- with just over $33 million in salary commitments. Assuming they keep their first-round draft pick and depending on the salary cap, the Clippers will have somewhere in the neighborhood of $15-$16 million range to spend, which will be about the amount needed to pay a maximum salary, maybe a bit shy.

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