Saturday, December 04, 2010

Atlanta Hawks 93 Philadelphia 76ers 88




Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
ATL 93
1.000 45.2

With 8:45 left in the game, the Atlanta Hawks trailed 85-72. The Hawks appeared equally incapable of stopping the 76ers as they did (Marvin Williams* excluded) of creating and converting a decent field goal attempt.

But then the 76ers stopped attacking. They slowed down and tried to score on isolations (many of them Andre Iguodala against Marvin Williams rather than Jrue Holiday or Lou Williams against Mike Bibby or Jamal Crawford) as the shot clock wore down. Philadelphia made one (1) field goal in the final 8:45, made one (1) free throw in the final 8:45, Lou Williams missed one (1) fast break dunk in the final 8:45, Jrue Holiday had one (1) jump shot blocked by Mike Bibby in the final 8:45, and the team committed five turnovers in the final 8:45.

On the other end of the floor, Marvin Williams finally got some help. Mike Bibby (who entered the game with an eFG% of 64.8% but went 3-8, with 1 three-pointer from the floor) and Al Horford** (who entered the game with an eFG% of 60% but went 5-15 from the floor, just 3-9 from inside 6 feet) got a shot to fall, Jamal Crawford demonstrated how isolation basketball should be played, and Zaza Pachulia (playing in pace of the jump shot prone Josh Smith*** down the stretch), through his passing and screening, kept both the ball and his teammates moving and picked up Crawford with an offensive rebound after Crawford missed two free throws with 18 seconds left and the Hawks up one.

The Hawks finished the game on a 21-3 run. A game they had no business winning given the events of its first 39 minutes and 15 seconds. A game they did not lead until Horford's free throw made at 89-88 with 31.1 seconds left.

*Not coincidentally, Williams was the one Hawk capable of exploiting Philadelphia's lone defensive weakness: an inclination to put opponents on the free throw line.

**In Horford's case two shots, one of them being the and-1 that gave the Hawks their first lead of the game.

***Smith clearly re-entered the game early in the fourth quarter with a brief not to shoot jump shots. He ignored his instructions and there were consequences. He sat for the final 6:04, save for Philadelphia's final offensive possession. Even better for Larry Drew and the power of discipline, the Hawks won without Smith. To Smith's credit (or to the eternal frustration of his well-wishers), he played a dynamite 59 seconds while Pachulia waited at the scorer's table to replace him. Furthermore, it was a good night for Drew overall as Jeff Teague played 9:19 of pretty poor basketball in the first half but was allowed to play through his mistakes and rewarded his head coach's faith with a very solid stint (2 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds) in the second half.

Marvin Williams:
"We got down but we were never out. A couple years back we would have folded. We are all older guys now."
Al Horford:
"At the end I wanted us to win so bad I’d do whatever it takes."
Larry Drew:
"You’re not going to put the perfect game together every time. There’s going to be some games where you’ve just got to grind it and gut it out. I’m very proud of our team because we did that tonight."
More from Drew:
"I didn’t think we were very sharp running our offense. We settled. We will do enough things to give us the movement but we cannot settle for the perimeter shot. We’ve got to get the ball inside and establish our inside game. I’ve got to give Philadelphia credit, too, because they did a good job defending us."
Drew on Josh Smith:
"We were in a situation we had to be a little bit more focused on getting the ball inside and getting the ball to the basket. He took two ill-advised shots. When the game is a grind, we can’t settle for that type shot. I explained that to him, he did it again, so I took him out the game.

At the start of the fourth quarter, I subbed Josh in to give Al a blow. The minute I did that their lead went right back up on a couple of bad offensive possessions. I thought I have got to go with what was working, and in this particular game was Zaza and Al together with Jamal and Mike and Marvin. I went with my gut and I’m glad I did that."
Locker room talk, baby.

Josh Smith:
"Obviously I wanted to be in the game. I knew that my offensive game wasn’t clicking. I’ve got to thank Zaza for stepping in there. He played big minutes tonight. Every time we go to hug each other, I make sure to tell him he plays a big part in what we do."
Jamal Crawford:
"I thank Zaza. If I would have missed those two and they wouldn’t won I would’ve walked to Miami tonight."
Zaza Pachulia:
"When the game is on the line like that, it's the little things that are important, and I had to do my part and get the rebound. When I saw he missed, I just followed the ball."
Doug Collins:
"We couldn't get a basket in the last 5 minutes. We tried to put the ball in some guys' hands, but we just couldn't get a basket. And that's been my concern the whole year long is in a close game finding a basket. Our defense was good enough to win . . . It's pretty disheartening for the guys."
To me, it looked like the Sixers, rather than working to finish the game off, just wanted it to end for the last seven minutes. As to the issue of getting a basket, Marreese Speights or even (shudder) Spencer Hawes would help far more than Tony Battie in that respect.

At Peachtree Hoops, Jason Walker breaks down the early offensive struggles:
The Hawks began the game almost matter-of-factly, as in, patient almost to a fault, and then, unlucky. They worked the ball and got open shots, and they didn't fall. Then, they went inside, as they were wise to do, and those shots wouldn't go in, either.

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