Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Knicks 99 Hawks 98




Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
ATL 92
44.3 24.1
27.7 10.9
NY 92 1.076 57.1

There was no offensive collapse in the fourth quarter. The Hawks scored 28 points. The shots were widely and fairly distributed. Even the couple of times that Joe Johnson declined the opportunity to feed Al Horford in the post, Johnson allowed Horford to set a ball-screen that Johnson used to create an open shot for himself. The Hawks lost because they did a few small things poorly and the Knicks did a couple of large things very well.

First the things the Hawks surely regret...
  • The seven jump shots Josh Smith hoisted (two of them in the fourth quarter, both missed) negated some of the good work his teammates did to get the ball to Smith and Horford more often. That he succumbed to the lure of the jump on a night when he also...
  • ...missed four of his seven free throws boggles the mind and puts one in the uncomfortable position of deeming a 25 point, 10 rebound, 6 assist performance if not somewhat disappointing then not all it could have been.
  • Those three minutes and eleven seconds that Mike Bibby played in the middle of the fourth quarter. The Hawks were +5 over that stretch but that was almost entirely due to the work of Smith and Horford on the glass. The Knicks scored ten points in the final 7:44 of the game. Six of those points came on two wide-open threes while Bibby was in the game. The first courtesy of Wilson Chandler posting Bibby up and forcing a double-team the Knicks beat with good ball movement and spacing. The second (following a Bibby turnover) when Bibby failed to close out on Chandler in the corner. The Knicks scored 23 points on 23 fourth quarter possessions. 17 points on 18 possessions without Bibby on the court. 6 points on the 5 possessions he was on the court. Like I said, small things, but important in a one-point game.
  • Not going small when Mike D'Antoni replaced David Lee with Eddie House after Lee picked up his fourth foul late in the third quarter. Al Harrington got five of his fourteen points in those three minutes Mike Woodson made Zaza Pachulia try and guard him.
Now, credit due the Knicks...
  • Chandler's block of Josh Smith's dunk attempt would be a wildly impressive play at any point of any game. In its context last night it was simply extraordinary. Jamal Crawford made a good pass, Smith made a good, agressive move to the basket, but Chandler surpassed their combined efforts.
  • David Lee finally played well against Al Horford, and, in doing so, occupied Horford sufficiently that the Knicks could spread the floor, thus increasing the distance the help defense had to travel, and isolate the Atlanta guards to make them more vulnerable to dribble penetration. It was essentially the same thing Orlando does successfully against the Hawks, only without Orlando's personnel.
Peachtree Hoops:
Losing to New York is like breathing for this team. I mean it is shocking the Hawks just got beat. Period. That "don't try and lay the ball up with a half second to go ever again" block on Josh Smith summed it up. The Knicks were better. All the predictable faults were there for Atlanta, all things we have grown accustom to laundry list after losses, the ball movement, inability to get the ball inside, questionable shot selection, an inability to disguise poor defenders, and of course, the coaching left something to be desired, but in the end, the Knicks beat the Hawks because they were the better team.

That should bring some cold, hard truth to Hawks fans and players.
Mike Woodson:
"We're just not matched up well with the Knicks for some reason. We played well enough to win tonight, but we were our own worst enemies down the stretch."
Michael Cunningham:
Lee got his fifth foul early in the fourth. The Hawks never really went at him aggressively and instead jacked jumpers. “I thought our shots coming down the stretch were awful,” Woody said. “We could have gone inside. We were in the penalty early in the fourth quarter and didn’t take advantage of that.”
The Human Highlight Blog:
The Hawks played the first half and took (28) shots inside of 16-feet to (14) shots outside that mark. In the third quarter alone the Hawks took (12) shots outside of 16-feet to (11) inside--not an indication that a team buys into an inside = success correlation.

By the time the fourth quarter clock reached 8:16, the Hawks trailed by (11)--the biggest Knicks lead of the night--and had taken more second half jump shots (16) than inside shots (12).

Then, when it seemed the Hawks might just send up the white flag and continue to try and shoot their way out of trouble--a method that has spelled doom to their recent fourth quarter chances--the Hawks began to get the ball inside to Josh Smith and play strong defense on the other end.

Slowly, the Hawks paralyzed the Knicks scoring while chipping away at the lead on the other end going through Smith in the post. Whereas the Hawks took (7) free throws in the first (16) minutes of the second half, they shot (9) in the next six minutes of the game. And when Joe Johnson made the last of those nine attempts, the Hawks had cut the lead to a single point, a 20-10 run.

But just as quickly as you could say, "Lesson Learned. Hooray!", the Hawks abandoned the boat that had taken them off their sinking ship. After continued success going inside and narrowing the margin, Johnson couldn't help himself when he found himself open coming off a screen, 23 feet from the hoop. He missed.

Then it was Smoove's turn to defy what had been working when he too launched a jump shot with daylight in front of him to the hoop--a path that had played a large part in his (9) fourth quarter points. That was no time to see if the clunker could still start up--it was time to stay in the Ferrari that had got you there.
Soaring Down South:
I’m growing tired of the roller coaster ride that this blog has become riding high after Hawks victories and falling off the cliff after losses. I am trying to look at this game simply as one of eighty two and nothing more. Still all of the problems that have plagued the Hawks over the last few games are still present. Lack of ball movement, lack of commitment to the inside game, questionable shot selection at key points throughout the game and now you can add another one that has become a trend. The Hawks look completely clueless against a zone defense right now.
Frank Isola of The New York Daily News on the possible recruitment of Joe Johnson by the Knicks:
"I don't think it's a reach to say that Arn could influence Joe's decisions," said a Hawks official. "There's nothing wrong with that. But we could still offer the most money."

"Wink-wink" deals are against NBA rules, but they are next to impossible to prove and happen all the time. That doesn't mean the Knicks have such an agreement in place with Johnson. In fact, Johnson was clear last night that his preference is to sign with a ready-made team, which would seem to include Atlanta but not necessarily the Knicks.

"I can't backtrack," Johnson said before the Hawks lost to the Knicks at the Garden. "I can't go into a situation like when I first got here to Atlanta."
Mark Bradley aggregates the full spectrum of Johnson-to-the-Knicks coverage from yesterday.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link