Thursday, January 06, 2011

Atlanta Hawks 110 Utah Jazz 87


Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
ATL 87
59.5 20.3
28.1 17.2
UTA 87 1.00 44.4

If you can't take away Atlanta's first option on offense, they will destroy you. The Utah Jazz received a more severe lesson in this regard than the Sacramento Kings got one night ago, in no small part because Larry Drew chose to keep his starters in the game until the Hawks were up 24 with 2:45 left in the fourth quarter. Al Horford going 9-16 rather than 4-14 from the field didn't hurt, either. There would be no style points left unclaimed in this game.

Again allowed free reign of the court with the ball in his hands and again knocking down the open shots his teammates created for him, Joe Johnson made it 57 points (on just 35 shots) in 48 hours, with both of those totals matched exactly by Jamal Crawford over the same period.

Possible items of interest: Johnson earned just three assists in the two games and 14 of his 22 made field goals were assisted. Certainly the Hawks will take a decline in Johnson's assists in exchange for more frequent and efficient finishing. It's a fair question how much credit for Johnson's explosion should be apportioned to better shooting, how much to better offensive execution, and how much to poor defending but perhaps, somewhat paradoxically, a reduction of Johnson's offensive workload spurred increased production.

Johnson's defensive workload wasn't lessened tonight but he once again did a good job against Deron Williams. In a classic Atlanta Hawks sagging man-to-man defensive performance, his teammates followed suit. Last night, it appeared the Sacramento Kings settled for jump shots Tonight, the Hawks disrupted and frustrated the flex sets and forced Utah to take jump shots.

Everything worked. Had it occurred a day later the performance would have been thoroughly epiphanal. Still, it provided a reminder of why, even though this team struggles to make adjustments, they so often do not need to anything other than they wish.

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