Sunday, February 06, 2011

Atlanta Hawks 99 Washington Wizards 92




Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
ATL 85
27.8 11.8
WASH 86 1.07 54.5


Josh Smith (29 points on 19 shots and 8 free throw attempts, 16 rebounds) was magnificent in the paint (22 points on 10 shots and 8 free throw attempts). Washington had no answer for him there. Which makes it all the more disappointing he didn't attack the defense's constant weakness on the nine Atlanta possessions he personally used for jump shots (7 points on 9 shots).

With Smith using so many possessions (and mostly using them well), Joe Johnson didn't have to force anything and since Nick Young can't guard Joe Johnson that led to a quiet, efficient night: 21 points on 12 shots and 6 free throw attempts. Johnson attempted just three shots in the second half and scored four of his six second-half points on intentional foul free throws in the final half-minute.

Marvin Williams picked up his share of the slack created by Al Horford's absence, logging significant time at power forward, grabbing 12 rebounds and scoring 15 points on 11 shots. It's very difficult to imagine a scenario where the Hawks are better served by having both Jason Collins and Mike Bibby or both Jamal Crawford and Mike Bibby on the court rather than Marvin.

Bibby knocked down a couple of threes but could do nothing to impede Kirk Hinrich much less John Wall and spent the final 17 minutes of the game on the bench.

Still, Jeff Teague got another DNP-CD.

Mo Evans and Damien Wilkins combined to play 25-and-a-half minutes. Evans struggled but Wilkins, after sitting for the better part of three quarters, played the final 14:40 at small forward and played well on both ends, setting a season high in points with eight.

It will fall to someone more perceptive than myself will need to explain how, one night earlier with a full, healthy roster, Jason Collins starts at center to match up against DeAndre Jordan, then, with Al Horford absent through injury the next night, Zaza Pachulia starts at center against JaVale McGee and Collins comes off the bench, mostly matched up against Yi Jianlian.

The Hawks swept the weekend back-to-back (by 8 total points) against teams that have combined to win less than a third of their games this season on the strength of free throw defense as much as anything. The Wizards and Clippers combined to score 108.5 points per 100 possessions (league average 107) in the two games despite missing 20 free throws and shooting 56.5% (on 46 attempts) from the line between them.

Larry Drew on playing the Wizards:
"Even when they took the lead, I still felt very comfortable."
Larry Drew on Josh Smith:
"I thought he did a magnificent job in his post-ups. He made some passes out of the post and got to the basket a couple times for some three-point plays. I just thought he played a well-rounded game."
Drew on the nine jump shots Smith attempted:
"The third quarter, we got into a situation where we were taking some ill-advised shots, and him in particular, and he knows that I’m going to stay on him about his shot selection. I do feel very comfortable with Josh Smith taking the jump shot, it’s when he takes it that I have a problem with, but he and I, we’re going to battle that all year long, but we’re on the same page. We’re on the same page with it."
"We're going to battle that all year long, but we're on the same page." deserves induction in the coach-speak Hall of Fame.

Smith on Damien Wilkins:
"Every time he gets the opportunity to play, he does something good on the court. He definitely came in in the fourth quarter and gave us some big points and was pretty much able to hold Young down on his own."
C'mon. Let's be fair and give Nick Young some credit for that, too.

Joe Johnson on Smith:
"When you’ve got something that’s working, you’ve got to milk it. That hasn’t always been the case for us this year. I just kept telling Mike and Jamal, 'Just keep going to him because he’s in a rhythm.'"
Ken Sugiura:
Hawks free throws for the last 10 games – 12, 20, 14, 11, 23, 23, 23, 22, 9, 13. Notably, the Hawks took (and made) 13 free throws in the fourth, when in recent games they’ve resorted to jump shots.
Atlanta's FT Rate for the game (35.6) was the highest in more than a month (since the win in Los Angeles against the Clippers wherein Joe Johnson set a career high with 17 free throw attempts) and their fifth-highest mark of the season (the other three teams the Hawks have most gotten to the line against: Philadelphia, Minnesota, and Indiana) but six of those 13 fourth quarter free throw attempts came in the final 30.9 seconds courtesy of intentional Washington fouls. Those attempts were the result of game-long quality offensive play but were not particularly indicative, in and of themselves, of a change in style of fourth quarter play.

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