Sunday, March 27, 2011

Atlanta Hawks 98 New Jersey Nets 87



Hoopdata boxscore


Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR%

ATL 87
1.126 52.6


Admittedly, as one who claimed weeks in advance that the Hawks should be judged more on their post-February 14th schedule than the routine wins they so frequently tallied against inferior competition prior to the All-Star break, I'm less inclined than many to grant this game the same weight as those recently played against Philadelphia, Chicago, Miami, and Denver.

Not that the Hawks make it easy to credit them for the victory (or clinching a playoff spot). A 30-point lead with less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter wasn't quite sufficient to put away the New Jersey Nets playing without their best player on the second night of a back-to-back. True, the Nets didn't quite get back in the game, thanks to three straight Al Horford scores (true, two of them came courtesy of long jumpers, and one of those a step-back 18-footer as the shot clock expired, but the first came via an all-too-rare trip to the free throw line for Horford), but the Nets did go on a 34-14 run in a little less than a quarter's worth of time against Atlanta's regular rotation.

One can't deny the damper that Joe Johnson's thumb injury, one that will keep him out of tonight's game in Cleveland, put on the night, either. The team may have signed Johnson to an onerous contract and Johnson might be late into his least-good season as a Hawk but he remains an above average player on a team with very little guard depth.

I mentioned above that New Jersey's sort-of comeback run came against Atlanta's regular rotation. That's due in part to Jason Collins and Hilton Armstrong and Etan Thomas all being active for the game. Presumably* all made available to Larry Drew should Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia prove insufficient to battle the beastly Brook Lopez (0 rebounds in 30:46 tonight) on the glass, once Johnson left the game, the Hawks had more backup centers dressed than guards. Tonight, no matter who Larry Drew tells to put on his suit, he will have more backup centers than guards who have played a single second in the NBA from which to choose. I'm sure this will all pay off when Al Horford's trying to close out on Ryan Anderson on Wednesday against Orlando.

*Checking to see if Josh Powell got arrested or suspended again...apparently he did not.

Joe Johnson on his injured right thumb:
"I didn’t know if it was still attached when it happened. It hurt that much."
In positive injury news, though Johnson will miss tonight's game and Josh Smith is still hampered by his sprained knee, in Michael Cunningham's post-game injury report, only Al Horford's sprained ankle, and not his sore hamstring, rates a mention.

Larry Drew:
"We really played our game that first half. We were pushing the ball, we were moving the ball. Guys were making plays, Joe was making plays out of the post. We were swigning the ball well. It just seemed like everything was going right. I thought we played as well of a first half as we could offensively and defensively we did a really good job."
Kirk Hinrich:
"I think our mindset was great for three quarters or so. We just have to feel when we are starting to go the other way and get a little bit of slippage and come together and not allow that to happen."
Al Hoford on clinching a playoff spot:
"It’s special. It’s something I don’t take or granted. A lot of guys play in this league and don’t get this chance. I’m very excited about it. Now it’s about us building on this and keep getting better."
Routine as it is for the Hawks to make the playoffs now, it was far more routine for far longer for them not to make the playoffs.

Josh Smith:
"It's a big accomplishment. There's a lot of guys who play a whole career and don't make it. I think if we get our act together, we can do something special this year."

1 comment:

Mitch McNeil said...

Making the playoffs in the NBA is a "big accomplishment" ? Really? 16 out of 30 teams? If that's the case, then making it past the 1st round will be "Mission Accomplished", in the words of GW.
I thought winning a championship was the goal here, but I must be wrong.