Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dallas Mavericks 102 Atlanta Hawks 91




Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
ATL 88
21.4 13.6
DALL 87 1.172 54.8

The 13-point fourth quarter* was nothing about which the Atlanta Hawks can or should be proud but with the 15-point fourth quarter debacle in Milwaukee still less than a week old an impotent offensive performance in which missing open shots shared culpability with poor ball movement doesn't seem as dire as Atlanta's defensive performance in the fourth quarter in Dallas.

*The nadir was clearly the sight of the Hawks, coming out of a timeout with 2:14 left in the game, completely flummoxed by the Dallas zone they'd played against for much of this game and a fair amount of their previous meeting (but not on the previous possession...tricky, Rick Carlisle, very tricky), passing the ball around the perimeter until Joe Johnson could hold it, back up, and take a contested 28-footer from the right sideline with the shot clock winding down.

The short explanation for Atlanta's fourth quarter defensive performance would be that Larry Drew had 60 minutes of individual minutes to allocate in the fourth quarter and 39% of them went to Mike Bibby, Jamal Crawford, and Josh Powell. Sufficient though that fact might be to illustrate Drew's priorities, it fails to tell the full picture of ineptitude.

Mike Bibby's first stint in the game lasted four minutes and eight seconds. During that time DeShawn Stevenson scored two of Dallas's 10 points and assisted on six others. The first quarter witnessed not just Stevenson matching his season high in assists for a game but Stevenson creating open looks for Dirk Nowitzki. Such a display throws into question the very existence of someone Mike Bibby could successfully guard but, when Rick Carlisle went to a backcourt of Jason Terry with either Jose Juan Barea or Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki as his forwards, in the fourth quarter there was no one on the court Mike Bibby could successfully guard.

The Hawks have been outscored 85-48 over their last three fourth quarters. Mike Bibby has played 27:22 of those fourth quarters during which he has scored three points on five shots, earned one assist, and grabbed two defensive rebounds. Clearly, the need for Larry Drew to "see more production" exists on a case-by-case basis.

Josh Smith really undermined Drew's absolutely correct decision to leave Smith in the game after committing his fifth foul with 6:16 left in the game and the Hawks down 10. This after giving Smith the Horford Treatment in the first half. Smith lasted two more possessions, one offensive (he took, and missed, a three-pointer from the top of the key) and one defensive (while defending Brendan Haywood in the post, Smith fouled Haywood before he could either commit a turnover or miss a shot).

With Smith disqualified and Al Horford appearing seriously fatigued after having played more than 45 minutes the previous night, Drew made the reasonable (but also telling from a depth and roster construction perspective) decision to insert Damien Wilkins into the game to guard Dirk Nowitzki. Less reasonable and absolutely indefensible? The decision to have the Hawks begin switching ball-screens so that Dallas could get Jamal Crawford defending Nowitzki in the post whenever they wished.

Additional items of interest...
  • Dallas clearly considered doubling Joe Johnson to be situation-dependent rather than mandatory. Johnson had a productive (27 points, 6 assists, 8 rebounds) and reasonably efficient game (24 shots, 1 free throw attempt) but other teams might show a willingness to let Johnson take more shots than any two of his teammates combined rather than encourage ball movement from a team all too willing to take what the defense gives them.
  • Jeff Teague looked really good playing with some starters in the second quarter and late in the third, less good playing alongside Crawford, Evans, Powell, and Pachulia at the start of the fourth quarter.
  • The Hawks being -7 in the 7:15 Josh Powell played upon his re-emergence from suspension and inaction was all too predictable but, ooohhh, put-backs.
  • In their last two road games, the Hawks have been outscored by 31 points and lost both to a team missing three starters through injury and a team that released a starter immediately following the game.
Larry Drew:
"We played, I thought, three good quarters and then in the fourth quarter we had a collapse. Shot selection was not very good. It just comes down to getting tougher in the fourth quarter. You’ve got to do the things that are going to assure you victory."
Learning can take time.

Joe Johnson:
"I thought the game was going great until the start of the fourth. It got out of hand and we never recovered from it."
"We've been in this situation enough times to learn from it. It's something we've got to get better at."
The recipe for success?

"It just comes down to getting tougher in the fourth quarter."
Damn. I was really hoping for it coming down to holding players accountable for their offensive and defensive performances in the fourth quarter. Or at least necessitating more than one player suspension for Josh Powell ever to play for the Atlanta Hawks again.

Al Horford:
"I don’t think it’s discouraging. On the road, it’s always tough and you have to play the right way and do everything right to win and we just had a little slippage the last two outings."
Josh Smith:
"We just had a couple careless turnovers and a couple of little touch fouls. It got them in the bonus early and they were able to utilize the line a little bit."
Smith's complaining about the officials is not limited to the game itself.

Jason Terry:
"It's about spreading it around. Offensively, guys are penetrating in and it's beautiful. Coach Carlisle told us it's a beautiful thing to watch when you see guys move the ball the way we do. He said there's probably only two teams that do it in this league, and it's us and San Antonio. It's the reason for our success."


Unknown said...

Is Drew really around for 2 more seasons? Don't think I can handle anymore of him.

Mitch McNeil said...

He seems like nothing more than a disciple of Woodson. New boss, same as the old boss.

jrauch said...

He's in completely over his head.

Granted Sund hasn't done him any favors with the bench, but he continues to run Mike Bibby's corpse out there, and the team continues to play Iso-Joe, while Horford is, at beast, the third or fourth scoring option.

I'm not saying Dwane Casey would have been Red Auerbach, but anything's better than this.