Monday, January 03, 2011

Quotes, Notes, and Links: Atlanta Hawks 107 Los Angeles Clippers 98




Larry Drew isn't buying the argument that giving up 45 points on 43 second-half possessions (104.7 points per 100 possessions) to the 22nd-most efficient offense (averaging 104.6 points per 100 possessions on the season) in the league wasn't a factor co-equal to Josh Smith and Jamal Crawford making everything and the Clippers helping Joe Johnson set a career high in free throw attempts in the Hawks winning the game:
"Our defense stiffened up the second half, we started making shots, Joe got into a rhythm, Jamal was Jamal and then Josh Smith made a couple 3s down the stretch."
Regardless of the events of any game, I believe head coaches are required to first address them in terms of defense.

Pedro Moura, of ESPNLosAngeles, reports of Vinny Del Negro wandering down a similarly misguided path:
[Del Negro] said the Hawks began sending over help to defend Griffin almost as soon as he touched the ball, which almost immediately got the Clippers out of sync. Atlanta also made a conscious effort to prevent L.A. from working its potent pick-and-roll with Griffin and Davis and any other possible tandem. Even more, the Hawks did everything they could to pump up the pace and do away with the half-court offense in the second half.
The Hawks had 48 possessions in the first half. They had 43 in the second half, including 3 in the final 46 seconds as Los Angeles fouled intentionally.

Among the things the Hawks didn't do to pump up the pace in the second half:
  • Rebound the missed Clipper shots (Los Angeles grabbed 38.1% of their second half misses)
  • Force turnovers more frequently (Los Angeles turned the ball over on 21.3% of their first half possessions and 20.5% of their second half possessions)
Josh Smith, being honest:
"It was a 12:30 game. People still had to wake up. I still was in my bed a little bit until I got it going. Everybody got it going. Jamal was a big lift off the bench. He was able to keep the game close with his scoring."
Smith on his second half shooting prowess:
"It was like a tremendous weight off my shoulders. One thing about me is that I don't give up on myself. I believe in myself and my teammates believe in me. That's why they kept feeding me the ball, and I was able to knock down a couple of jumpers in the second half. I was open and my teammates got me the ball and I just stepped into my shots and let it go. In the first half, I was fading away."
Vinny Del Negro's more succinct game recap:
"In the second half we didn't stop them at all."
Smith, rejecting the notion that the Hawks were outplayed in the first half:
"One quarter. We won the other three."
The Atlanta Hawks, getting prickly about receiving credit for outscoring the Clippers 24-22 in the second quarter to pull within in 11 at the half. Maybe he was shining some indirect light on Jeff Teague's second quarter cameo. Maybe he misses the CBA. I do.

Joe Johnson on posting up the smaller Clipper guards:
"We wanted to take advantage of the mismatch and either make them double team, score or get fouled."
It should be noted that approximately half of his career-high 17 free throw attempts came courtesy of technical fouls or a Clipperfouling him as he shot a fall-away. I fear such an explosion of efficiency is not replicable.

According to's shot chart, Johnson took half of his 20 field goal attempts outside of 14 feet (making 3 of those shots), 2 from the left block (1-2 from that range), 3 (each of which he made) from the the bottom of the circle, and 4 (all of which he missed) from 3-to-4 feet in the paint.

Even with the career day at the free throw line, Johnson's True Shooting Percentage on the day was 52.8%. The league average is 53.9% this season.

Larry Drew on Johnson:
"Just as soon as that elbow heals at 100 percent, he will be back into form."
And people say the Hawks lack a long-term plan.

Drew on the first half defense:
"In the first half we were hurt by our pick-and-roll coverages. We made some adjustments with that."
I suspect Michael Cunningham has a macro for that quote.

Cunningham's analysis:
I’m trying to remember a time when the Hawks weren’t hurt by their pick-and-roll coverages and exactly what adjustments can be made given their personnel. It’s not something that figures to get much better, particularly against faster teams like the Clippers.

It’s repetitive to watch the Hawks get beat off the dribble, leading to open jumpers, drive-and-dishes for high-percentage shots, or putbacks because Atlanta’s bigs are constantly helping. There’s just no way for the Hawks to consistently stop good teams that way in the kind of possession-by-possession games that come in the playoffs.
Al Horford's right hand is feeling better:
"It’s pretty much good now. I’ve been lucky. As soon as it gets better, then I get hit."
Efficient on and off the court, Horford saved the team the cost of an MRI.


Adam Malka said...

Are you surprised at how bad Joe Johnson has been this year? I know you and others spent a good amount of space last season and offseason predicting he would suffer a rapid decline, but did you see such a fall-off in Johnson's efficiency during YEAR ONE of the new contract?

Which raises, I suppose, the elephant in the room : how long until we abandon hope that Johnson is just "off" or injured, and conclude that he is at the beginning of a steep decline?

Bret LaGree said...

Adam --

I'm surprised at Johnson's poor shooting since I didn't know he was playing through an injury. Knowing that now and knowing that he didn't let his injury heal before returning (and that no one has the authority to make him heal), I'm no longer surprised.

You simply can't shoot a high percentage when your shooting elbow can't function properly.

Because Johnson's value is tied up entirely in making shots and passes, he will continue to be a passable offensive player as long as opponents double-team him and making the passing easier. Should they stop double-teaming him before his elbow heals, he will be a more serious drain on the team's offensive efficiency.

And, because he's a poor defender (at least as utilized by the Hawks), that will possibly make him a below average NBA player far earlier in the life of the contract than anyone anticipated.