Friday, November 05, 2010

Atlanta Hawks 113 Minnesota Timberwolves 103


Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
ATL 98
56.8 25.9
23.5 15.3
MINN 100 1.03 46.5

It's a toss-up as to which is a worse idea: looking for reasons not to play Al Horford or looking for reasons to play Jason Collins. Neither idea itself nor the two working in concert proved to be as bad as the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight but I suspect that Larry Drew will have to treat frontcourt minutes more preciously as the competition improves next week or suffer some consequences.

Somehow, an injury to his starting small forward caused Drew to give his third-string center more first half minutes and either his first- or second-string center. Heck, with Marvin Williams and Mo Evans injured and Al Horford having picked up (GASP!) two personal fouls before halftime, Jordan Crawford played more minutes in the first half than did Horford.

It didn't much matter, even though Minnesota closed out the first half on a 14-5 run to get within five at halftime, Atlanta restored their lead with a 21-11 start to the second half. Josh Smith (20 points on 13 shots, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 blocks, 2 steals, and 0 turnovers) was, by himself, far too good for the Hawks ever to lose this game. And he had help. Al Horford posted another double-double (14 and 12, plus 3 assists) and thoroughly dominated the great Kevin Love despite barely being allowed to play half the game, Mike Bibby continued (for a half, at least) to knock down open shots, Jamal Crawford (22 points on 14 shots, and, what's this? It's SIX rebounds.) made a welcome return* to active duty, and Josh Powell (5-6 from the floor for 10 points) knocked down almost all of the jump shots Minnesota were willing to let him take.

*Crawford the Elder and Jeff Teague (5 assists) started to show some chemistry while leading the second unit during the first half.

It's not just that Collins is massively inferior to Al Horford. It's that Collins is clearly inferior to Zaza Pachulia and that Josh Powell would be a preferable option to receive minutes made available by injury. It's curious that Drew would turn so readily to Collins as Collins does none of things Drew wants from the team. Collins is more obstacle* than defender, can't rebound, and can't run. He doesn't do anything that someone else on the roster could do better to help the team win. Perversely, it's in not doing anything that Collins remains blameless for his inadequacies. Nothing is expected of him, thus his failure to be productive is not perceived as failure at all. At least when his teammates are so much better than the opposition.

Put another least until he plays for the Hawks against Orlando on Monday.

*Granted, you don't need to be much more than an obstacle to defend Darko Milicic adequately in the post. Though, it should be noted that Milicic made both his baskets, grabbed two of his three offensive rebounds, and played some effective help defense (two of his three blocks also came) when matched up against Collins.


rbubp said...

I'm going to give Drew some benefit of the doubt and assume that he is trying to get people some extended run where he can. Against Minnesota's rather lame bigs and with two SFs out seems like as good a time as any to work bench legs into some shape.

I mean, they may have to actually play Jason Collins at some point, unfortunately, so they may as well get him as prepped as they can, I guess.

Collins notwithstanding, getting Teague and Jo Crawford extended minutes where possible seems like a good choice, especially if it's not garbage time but also is not going to threaten to cost a game.

jeherv said...

i think rbubp called this right. if the bigs are going to be out for some time, and ld knows he is going to need al and zaza to have fresh legs for bigger games coming up, why not go with jason collins against an inferior team like minny and give those guys a breather.

i like it.

it's the sort of bench management woody never would have engaged in.

Courtney Conaway said...

Agreed. No way Woddy would have kept Joe under 40 minutes for this game.

Keith Box said...

Don't think you have to worry about Al getting tired legs. He's played 30 or more minutes only three times this season. This is despite the fact that he's averaging right at 19 points and 13 rebounds per 36 minutes this season.