Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Atlanta Hawks 112 Memphis Grizzlies 109


Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
ATL 92
1.217 57.6

The Hawks will have four-to-six weeks to learn to play without Joe Johnson. The initial evidence suggests both that he won't necessarily be missed offensively* and that's he's not central to the team's defensive problems. As to the former, the Hawks can't expect Josh Powell to shot 88.9% for any length of time. As to the latter, if Josh Smith can stay out of foul trouble (or Larry Drew can refrain from creating foul trouble where it may not exist) the Hawks won't have to watch Josh Powell keep the other team in the game for the better part of a half.

*Home team scorekeepers and all that, but 33 assists on 42 made field goals is mighty nice.

Zach Randolph lit up Powell to the tune of 8 points, 4 offensive rebounds, and an assist while Josh Smith sat for 15 minutes of the first half with two personal fouls. The Hawks allowed 20 points during the 9:30 Powell played across the third and fourth quarters, though Powell's comic* inability to guard the screen-and-roll was mitigated most of that time by Al Horford's presence on the court. 8 of those 20 Memphis points were scored during the 2:20 Horford spent on the bench.

*His choice to run as hard as he could toward half-court, bypassing both screener and ball-handler by several steps was a technique with which I was not familiar.

For the second time in three games Horford was massive in the fourth quarter. 8 Of his 20 points, 2 of his 6 rebounds, and 2 of his 6 assists came in the final 10:02. Plus he contributed his usual assortment of quick, accurate passes that did not lead directly to baskets and solid screens. Defending alongside Powell and with the Grizzlies having gone small, Horford had to guard Rudy Gay on the wing, a task he accomplished admirably.

Of course, on a night where eight Hawks scored at least eight points (and make no mistake the Hawks won by outscoring the Grizzlies) Horford didn't win the game by himself. Mike Bibby knocked down three three-pointers in the final 4:22 to polish off a 15-point, 8-assist night. Jamal Crawford missed some tough, borderline forced shots down the stretch but still scored 16 points on 12 shots and earned 8 assists. (Granted, the Hawks needed such production from both veteran guards to counter Mike Conley's second terrific outing against Atlanta's nominal perimeter defense.) Marvin Williams (15 points on 11 shots, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists) and Marvin Evans (9 points on 4 shots) continued to demonstrate the value of their good health to the Atlanta Hawks. Jeff Teague played perhaps the best basketball of his professional career in the first half and finished with 8 points and 5 assists.

Even the mixed performances from the power forwards were more good than bad. Replicable or not, Josh Powell did make 8 of 9 field goal attempts though his three turnovers and two rebounds take some the luster (that remains after factoring in his defense) off his performance. Similarly, Josh Smith managed to turn the ball over 4 times in just under 23 minutes (3 of them passes to Tony Allen in a 60 second stretch of the third quarter) and needed 15 shots to score 13 points but his defense and rebounding (when on the court) likely made his performance a net positive.

It's unlikely that Joe Johnson's absence will be a positive but, as poorly as he's shot the ball so far this season and considering how much of his value is wrapped up in that skill, it's possible the Hawks (with three other shooting guards on the roster, as well) are not appreciably worse in his absence.


Bronnt said...

I remember someone on Daily Dime asking once if you were funny when the Hawks win. I think you proved it definitively here.

Jay said...

Is it not perhaps the biggest indictment of Joe's deal that we are paying max money to a player, who is NOT sorely missed when saddled with an injury?

Not to say that it's a good thing Joe is hurt, but that the team can survive without him.