Friday, January 21, 2011

The First Half Was the Good Half: New Orleans Hornets 100 Atlanta Hawks 59


Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
NO 85
31.4 16.5
ATL 85 0.694 31.6

Yes, 59. Just the 22nd time since the 1986-87 season that an NBA team scored fewer than 60 points and the only Atlanta Hawks team ever to score so few.

The Atlanta Hawks didn't lose this game because Al Horford didn't play. Even Horford isn't good enough to make a 42-point difference in a game. All Horford's absence did was exacerbate the team's existing (and long-standing) weaknesses. The Hawks lost the game because they struggled to defend on the perimeter, demonstrated an inconsistent interest in taking high-percentage shots, lacked depth, and are not a good rebounding team. All of those weaknesses exist when Horford is present and he does an awful lot to mitigate each of them but his excellent contributions those areas did not prevent a loss in Atlanta's last home game nor did his absence for most of the second half prevent the Hawks from winning in Miami.

There wasn't a single Hawk that gave a creditable performance:
  • Josh Smith and Jamal Crawford put the ball in the basket most often but neither were at all effective, with bad shots and turnovers undermining Smith's scoring and Crawford's pitiful defensive performance easily negating his offensive contributions.
  • The typically fine New Orleans defense completely stymied Joe Johnson and he appeared thoroughly incapable of impacting the game on the defensive end.
  • Mike Bibby probably took more good shots than any other Hawk. Unfortunately, he missed all of them and is several inches shorter than Marco Belinelli, rendering decent defensive positioning irrelevant.
  • Quite unfairly, Mo Evans was asked to guard Chris Paul. Quite predictably, he failed to slow the league's best point guard.
  • Just as unfairly, Jeff Teague was asked to come off back-to-back DNP-CDs (and just 48 minutes over the last 8 games in which he'd appeared) to face Paul. Just as predictably, Teague failed to play well against him.
  • Jason Collins made few basketball plays before being ejected (harshly) for not making a play on the ball when fouling David West early in the third quarter.
  • Zaza Pachulia personified the emptiness of effort with production.
  • Josh Powell personified Josh Powell.
  • Given his youth and inexperience, Jordan Crawford deserves neither criticism for his poor moments nor praise for his flash of potential.
  • Given their age and roles, neither Damien Wilkins nor Etan Thomas deserve either criticism or credit for providing empty minutes in garbage time.
  • Al Horford appeared to be wearing a cardigan under his suit jacket.
As for Larry Drew...
  • His team didn't make any concerted effort to get the ball to Josh Smith in the post in the first half.
  • He used Smith to double Paul early in the second-half, clearing the way for David West to get involved in the game in a non-pouting way.
  • He went zone which only served to prove that Jamal Crawford can't keep track of Mario Belinelli if Belinelli remains immobile four feet away from Crawford
  • And he (allegedly) designed a second-half game plan around his guards driving the ball and getting to the line which would be great if he coached a different team.
Nothing good came out of this game for Atlanta but the only way the loss will make the season demonstrably worse* is if the margin of the defeat causes Al Horford to return to action before his ankle heals.

*Pretty much negating the future value of breaking down the team's stats against teams with winning records
and comparing those to the team's stats against teams with losing records doesn't count.

1 comment:

jrauch said...


And people around the Hawks wonder why no one takes this team seriously...