Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hawks 109 Lakers 92


With the Lakers (minus Andrew Bynum) playing the fifth game of a five-game road trip and the Hawks off since Sunday afternoon and having spent the interregnum developing a productive aversion to the specter of Laker fans filling Philips Arena, the game essentially ended when, with the Hawks up 66-55 with5:16 left in the third quarter, Kobe Bryant made no effort to fight through a ball screen and allowed Joe Johnson a wide-open three-point attempt which Johnson made. The Lakers got back within 12 a handful of times in the fourth quarter, but never closer.

Atlanta's bench provided a good effort in both the first and second half. Their efforts made a greater impact due to their context. Unlike the last two games, the starters showed up to play from the opening tip and bracketed the second unit's appearances with productive efforts of their own. Joe Johnson was exceptional, scoring 25 points on 20 shots while earning eight assists against one turnover (of the five committed by the Hawks). Six teammates (Josh Smith, Al Horford, Mike Bibby, Jamal Crawford, Mo Evans, and Zaza Pachulia) joined him in double figures for the game as the Hawks nearly (59.6 eFG%) shot 60% from the floor.

If there's any worry created by an otherwise sound performance, it's not a surprising one: team defense. Despite it being a low possession game and not a competitive one over the final 17 minutes, the Hawks allowed 92 points in just 82 possessions. Should the Hawks make it to the second round of the playoffs and meet there a team of the quality of the Lakers they'll have no guarantee their opponent will be missing a starter and no opportunity to be well-rested at home while said opponent ends a lengthy road trip. That's the difference between an impressive regular season win and playoff basketball. That's not a difference to dwell on tonight.


Glenn said...

I listened to the game on the Lakers radio network. Great win by the Hawks. If they play like this, this team will go very far and could take the Magic/Cavs/C's to 7 in the ECQ.


ADI said...

Strange game tonight. Too many Lakers fans there, but trash talking them was so much fun!

-Kobe was dominant in the first half but got help from no one...
-Adam Morrison is alive after all.
-Mo Evans is underrated, and he proved it tonight with respectable D on Kobe (vastly better than JJ's) and by forcing Kobe to respect his offense.
-The Lakers are soft inside and it showed tonight. Horford had an off game, and slightly made up for it with a decent 4thQ. Even so, Zaza killed the Lakers and set the tone early with a nasty dunk.

rbubp said...

I'd be interested in the first-half OE numbers for the Lakers. It looked like pretty good defense until the lead was established, at least (I missed the game and have only re-watched the first half yet)...the Lakers were forced into a lot of jumpshots and Pachulia played very good defense on Gasol. And the rebounding was excellent on both sides of the court for the Hawks

Woodson may actually have taken Horford out because of his two fouls, but leaving Pacghulai in the rest of the half may actually have been an adjustment (!)...though an easy one because Zaza was obviously playing so well. (Isn't it amazing how that one behind the back pass a couple of weeks seems to have turned the guy's season around? He has been a lot more effective since then.)