Thursday, March 18, 2010

Raptors 106 Hawks 105



Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
ATL 92.7
54.7 14.1
17.1 11.9
TOR 92.7 1.144 47.8

It was clear that Josh Smith wasn't in a good mood early in the game. Complaints, against teammates, referees, the fates, came frequently and easily. He took two jump shots in the first three minutes. He did not look to be troubled by the possibility of getting thrown out over his reaction to whatever Jose Calderon said to him in the second quarter. Despite this, Smith was reasonably productive. He's a good and talented player. He can't get by on talent and occasional effort alone as three key fourth quarter possessions proved.
  • With 4:25 left in the game and the Hawks up eight, Smith, with seven seconds left on the shot clock, needlessly ends an Atlanta offensive possession with a 22-foot jump shot.
  • With 2:57 left in the game, Andrea Bargnani, spotting up as a trailer on Toronto's secondary break, hits a wide-open three-pointer. Smith either chose not to close out on Bargnani or never picked up his man in transition, instead floating in the lane, helping teammates who needed no help at that time.
  • With 15.7 seconds left, Hedo Turkoglu misses a free throw that would have tied the game. Al Horford seals off Chris Bosh. On the strength of Horford's box out, Marvin Williams comes hard down the lane to get the rebound. Josh Smith stands and watches and gets no piece of Amir Johnson, who attacks the rebounding opportunity as hard as does Williams, keeps Williams from getting clean control of the ball, the ball ultimately going out of bounds to Toronto and giving Chris Bosh the opportunity to make the game-winning shot.
These aren't the only reasons the Hawks lost but they were three clear instances of poor effort by the team's best player in the final 4:25 of a one-point loss. Each was important.

As was...
  • Smith making just 5 of 12 shots at and around the rim and just 4 of 8 free throws.
  • Marvin Williams going 1-10 from the floor and failing to take advantage of the extra offensive possessions granted him in Joe Johnson's absence.
  • Mike Woodson making sure that the far more effective (than Williams or Mike Bibby, 0-1 from the field with no assists or turnovers in the fourth quarter) Maurice Evans finished the game with five fouls.
  • Toronto taking advantage of Atlanta's insistence on switching every ball-screen to get Chris Bosh matched up against Williams rather than Smith or Al Horford in the post on the possession immediately following Bargnani's transition three.
  • The first half technical fouls on Smith and Mike Bibby.
  • Jamal Crawford's inability to function as either a complementary scoring threat (four points on six shots) to Al Horford in the fourth quarter or as a lead guard (Crawford's one fourth quarter assist was a gift from the scorekeeper as his pass precipitated a nice Horford post move that freed him for his jump hook).
  • Allowing 31 Toronto fast break points.
The Hawks took care of business impressively Tuesday night in New Jersey, giving them a better-than-normal chance of picking up a win on the road the next night in Toronto. Despite making 11 of 18 three-pointers and watching Toronto miss ten free throws, the Hawks wasted that opportunity.

Al Horford:
"We really had it going. We really should have closed it out. I understand it is all part of learning and growing as a team, but we’ve got to close it out."
Mike Woodson:
"I thought we played pretty steady throughout the ball game but coming down the stretch we just unraveled and didn't make the plays that we needed to make."
Peachtree Hoops:
Atlanta led 101-92 with under (4) minutes left on Jamal Crawford's amazing 32nd and 33rd points.

The Raptors, to that point, had played only temporary defense, allowing the Hawks to get open for plenty of open three point looks and trips to the rim. In the fourth quarter, Al Horford asserted himself on the perimeter focused Toronto front line and scored (10) fourth quarter points inside, the last of which gave the Hawks a (6) point lead with 1:37 left to play.

That, however, was the end of Crawford and Horford's scoring--and the Hawks as well.

The Hawks couldn't get the ball into Horford as Bosh overplayed well. They forgot that Josh Smith was effective in the high post, getting his 7th assist of the night the only time the ball ran through him in the final quarter. As stunned as we were watching the game, the Hawks seemed leg-locked as well that Toronto, who had struggled mightily lately, was playing with such desperation and precision down the stretch in this game--one the Hawks had seemed to have in hand.
Raptors Republic has the round-up of links from the Toronto perspective.

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