Saturday, March 31, 2012

Initial Feedback: 76ers out-Hawk the Hawks

Initial feedback: A completely subjective and immediate response to the events of tonight's game, featuring a comment and rating, the latter on a scale of 1 to 10, on every player who saw the floor and the head coach, along with ephemera and miscellany as the author deems necessary.

Your ratings and commentary, dear reader, are welcomed in the comments to this post.


Jeff Teague: The Hawks outscored the 76ers on fast break points and points in the paint. This game wasn't about the Hawks getting dominated inside or run out of the gym. This game was about the 76ers making shots. They made just enough tough, contested shots with the clock running down to win. Jeff Teague made two shots. 2/10

Joe Johnson: Hawks players still do not know their roles. Joe Johnson's role is to score more than 15 points. 4/10

Kirk Hinrich: Hinrich shot 50%, the best percentage of any Hawks guard, and had more assists (6) than Teague (4) vs. 2 turnovers each. But again, it just wasn't enough. The Hawks needed someone to take some of the scoring burden off of Josh Smith, but Kirk was 0-for-3 from 3-point range and scored only 8 points. 4/10

Josh Smith: Josh shot 12-for-18, scored 34 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and dished out 5 assists. He was also 9-for-11 on free throws despite a decided lack of help from the referees. What more can you ask? 9/10

Zaza Pachulia: Neither Spencer Hawes nor Elton Brand is a good matchup for Zaza. Joined Hinrich and Teague among starters who failed to reach double figures with 4 points on 2-for-7 shooting with 7 rebounds. 3/10

Marvin Williams: After his nice game against the Knicks, he led the reserves in this game with 27 minutes. But he was not the shot maker Larry Drew was looking for as he hit only 1-for-4 on threes, 2-for-8 overall and finished with 6 points. 3/10

Willie Green: I'm going to sound like a broken record, but I don't know what else to say. Willie Green shot decently but didn't make enough shots. 3/10

Ivan Johnson: This game featured some promising developments. Despite the short rotation, Jason Collins did not see the floor. Ivan Johnson scored 7 points on 3-for-5 shooting and pulled down 6 rebounds in only 16 minutes. He was the only player with the right combination of size, strength and foot speed to slow down Brand. During his first appearance, spanning the first and second quarters, the Hawks outscored the 76ers 16-8 and Elton Brand did not score. However, on a night when the Hawks only went 8 players deep, Ivan only played 16 minutes. 4/10

The head coach
This is the closest the Hawks have come to defeating the 76ers during the current losing streak to this team that dates back to last season. Drew was unable to use telepathy to prevent the ball from going in when the 76ers shot. Drew allocated zero bad player minutes during the close loss. 5/10

A thought regarding the opposition
The 76ers are third in the Eastern Conference in point differential but somehow have fallen all the way to 7th in playoff position. A team that looked like world beaters early in the season, blowing out opponents with reckless abandon, now sits only 6 games above .500. They even struggled against the Hawks, which hasn't happened in a while.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Initial Feedback: Personally, I'm On Speaking Terms With Hardly Anybody

Initial feedback: A completely subjective and immediate response to the events of tonight's game, featuring a comment and rating, the latter on a scale of 1 to 10, on every player who saw the floor and the head coach, along with ephemera and miscellany as the author deems necessary.

Your ratings and commentary, dear reader, are welcomed in the comments to this post.


Jeff Teague: There are few things more entertaining in a battle between middle-class teams than a point guard blocking three shots. Thoroughly outplayed the Knicks' second- through fourth-string point guards. Mike Woodson might not have expected that. 7/10

Kirk Hinrich: Eeesh. 2/10

Joe Johnson: Super Willie Green. His shot-making and New York's inability to convert beating him off the dribble into points were the differences in the game. 8/10

Josh Smith: 23 points on 13 shots in the paint. 0 points on 6 shots outside of the paint. Seven turnovers make it difficult for the former to make up for the latter. On the other end, Carmelo Anthony is a terrible matchup for Josh Smith. Smith struggles to defend at the point of attack. Anthony is all point of attack. By making Smith defend the ball, New York really limited his impact on the defensive glass, just four defensive rebounds in 38 minutes for a guy pulling down a quarter of opponents' misses this season. 7/10

Zaza Pachulia: Will never have the defensive impact of Tyson Chandler but attacked the glass and scored one handful of points to make a play for a a draw. 5/10

Marvin Williams: If you only watch the ball when the offensive team has it, Willie Green was the unquestioned star off the bench. If you watch the entire basketball game, Marvin Williams was his equal. 6/10

Willie Green: If he makes every shot, Willie Green is a good basketball player. Even then, he's also a poor defender. Baron Davis beat him off the dribble in the fourth quarter but couldn't finish at the rim. The inability of the Knicks to guard Green in the fourth was as telling as their inability to exploit him offensively. 7/10

Ivan Johnson: Ivan Johnson is not going to get regular minutes. 2/10

Jerry Stackhouse: Marked present. Incomplete

Jason Collins: A new scoreless game streak begins. Incomplete

The head coach
Simply by virtue of standing on the Atlanta sideline for the better part of two seasons while Mike Woodson has been a head coach for 10 games, Larry Drew won whatever power struggle may or may not have gone down between the two. Drew also works for the better organization as the Hawks without Al Horford were clearly superior to the Knicks without Amare Stoudemire. But the Hawks rarely look bad when they make half (48.6 eFG% from 15 feet and beyond) their jump shots. 6/10

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Classical: Whitaker: The Josh Smith Question

Over at The Classical, Lang Whitaker muses on Josh Smith. Because the subject is Josh Smith, there's no definitive conclusion. I like this passage in particular:
I’m not the only one: NBA fans in general don’t seem to know what to make of Josh. Even though everyone knows long jumpers aren’t his forte, he still occasionally lofts them at the rim, eliciting loud criticisms from Hawks fans. (At least when those shots carom off.) Fans see Josh flash a sour face when a call goes against him or the Hawks, and don’t seem quite to get his perceived obstinacy. These are the two biggest criticisms regularly lodged against Smith, and though both are mostly outdated this point, Smith seems to still be paying for past mistakes.
What we have here is a profound difference in temperament and almost no difference of opinion. Lang likes Josh Smith and gives the two biggest criticisms* no more weight than the many, many productive things Smith does on the court. I like Josh Smith and fixate on the jump shots because they make little sense** in the context of the many, many productive things Smith does on the court.

*I'd agree that the latter is more outdated than not, but as to the former, Josh Smith is attempting 7.75 shot outside of 16 feet per game. Only Kobe Bryant, Monta Ellis, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Gerald Henderson take more long two-pointers per game than he does.

**Perhaps Smith is channeling his obstinacy away from officials and toward his shot selection?

Given the selective appeal of the Atlanta Hawks and the organization's fairly calcified approach to team construction, I think there tends to be a limited range of perspectives about the team. There's minimal appeal in having the same argument over and over again. Sometimes, the most direct path to original thought is merely someone approaching a familiar subject and reaching a familiar (non-)conclusion from a unique starting point.

Initial Feedback: Jason Collins Scored a Basket

Initial feedback: A completely subjective and immediate response to the events of tonight's game, featuring a comment and rating, the latter on a scale of 1 to 10, on every player who saw the floor and the head coach, along with ephemera and miscellany as the author deems necessary.

Your ratings and commentary, dear reader, are welcomed in the comments to this post.

Jeff Teague: You would think with Derrick Rose missing extended time due to injury, this would be an opportunity for Teague to make an imprint on a game. The stats were not terrible: 13 points on 5-for-14 shooting with 8 assists and only 2 turnovers. These contributions were nearly matched by Chicago's third-string point guard, John Lucas. 5/10

Joe Johnson: Again, with Chicago's superstar out of action, you would expect Atlanta's franchise player to feast in his absence. Joe went on a diet with 12 points on 5-for-11 shooting with 6 assists. Said after the game that some of his teammates still do not know their roles. Note to Joe Johnson: Your role is to score. 3/10

Josh Smith: Josh has been one of the hottest players in the NBA since the All-Star break. His increased production can be attributed to an increase in scoring chances close to the basket. However, this by no means indicates that Josh has abandoned his efforts to shoot himself out of a career-long slump from 16-feet-and-out. Shooting 3-for-10 on long jumpers is actually an ok night for Josh. 5/10

Zaza Pachulia: Sat on the bench and watched Jamal Crawford shoot the Hawks to a 2nd round playoff exit against the Bulls last year when the team really needed a mobile big man to counter Chicago's front court depth. More about available depth in a moment. 4/10

Kirk Hinrich: Let's hope the hamstring he tweaked while playing 44 minutes in Sunday's epic against Utah doesn't become a nagging issue. 2/10

Marvin Williams: Bringing Marvin off the bench really allows for an adjustment in expectations. For a bench player, 10 points and 5 rebounds are valuable contributions. 4/10

Tracy McGrady: Did not set the world on fire in 5 minutes of court time. Incomplete

Jerry Stackhouse: Did not set the world on fire in 6 minutes of court time. Incomplete

Willie Green: The 4th overtime hero didn't have it tonight, scoring 4 points on 1-of-6 shooting in 21 minutes. 2/10

Ivan Johnson: After scoring 17 points on perfect 7-for-7 shooting in just 23 minutes in Tuesday's loss to Milwaukee, Larry Drew rewarded Ivan with 11 minutes against the Bulls. Ivan Johnson has outplayed All-Star centers this year. Is the Hawks organization trying to hide him from potential bidders this summer? 3/10

Jason Collins: Jason Collins scored a basket. 1/10

The head coach
Drew probably wishes the opposition was coached by Tyrone Corbin every time the Hawks play. 1/10

A thought regarding the opposition
The Bulls may not get past the Heat again in this year's playoffs. The Bulls may wish they had a better player than Carlos Boozer to show for all the cap space they have invested in him. But you can't question that the Bulls get the most out of what they have.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

SB Nation Atlanta: We Should Care More About the 2012 Atlanta Hawks

Michael has a nice post up at SB Nation Atlanta exploring why he's not more excited about this surprisingly successful Atlanta Hawks team. And it's not just all Lionel Messi's fault:
If I have to come to grips with why I feel the way I feel, the lack of a collective excitement over the Hawks is one reason for me. If Philips Arena were full and loud, then I would be more likely to go to games. Instead, I have to get myself in the right mood to be hectored by Ryan Cameron. SEC football is fun in this market because if I go to a game or watch one on TV, I get the fact that other people care and it makes me want to care. Similarly, I can listen to the radio in Atlanta and get my fill of SEC football discussion, at least between the transparent "we have personalities!" schtick of many of the local hosts. Try to find discussion of the Hawks on the radio.

The second reason why I am having to force myself to get more excited about the local pro basketball collective is the fact that the team has reached a plateau. It's harder to appreciate the team having the fifth-best record in the East when they finished fifth last year, third the year before that, and fourth the year before that. Each of the past three seasons have finished with a narrow win in the first round of the playoffs, followed by an elimination at the hands of one of the elite teams in the conference. Sure enough, the likely end of the road this year in the event that the Hawks win their first-round series is a loss in the Eastern semifinals to the Bulls or Heat. It takes a lot of creativity to imagine a deep playoff run, which is a drag on excitement.
Discussing second-round playoff exits and fan apathy is the universal treadmill of Hawks fandom. If you figure an escape, please let me know.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Initial Feedback: Busted Lip Spells Trouble

By James Goeders

Initial feedback: A completely subjective and immediate response to the events of tonight's game, featuring a comment and rating, the latter on a scale of 1 to 10, on every player who saw the floor and the head coach, along with ephemera and miscellany as the author deems necessary.

Your ratings and commentary, dear reader, are welcomed in the comments to this post.


Jeff Teague: Looking at the stat sheet alone, it was a decent night for Teague scoring 15 points and adding 7 assists. The downside was the 7 turnovers, the poor defense of Monta Ellis (more later), and Jeff's desire to dribble out the shot clock and either leave a teammate in a bad position or not get a shot off at all. Far too timid and did not drive to the basket like we saw him do against the weaker opponents of the last week. 4/10

Joe Johnson: Joe suffered a busted lip early in the 1st which saw the Hawks fall down by 12 by the time he got back into the game. Obviously used up all of his magic with the late threes of the past few games because nothing was falling tonight. Did finish in double figures and had 8 assists, but was 0-for-5 in the 4th and only 1-for-6 from behind the arc for the game. 4/10

Marvin Williams: When Joe went out early in the first it was Marvin that carried the offense. Sadly that did not carry over into the 2nd half, as Marvin only had 1 basket in the 14 minutes he played. 3/10

Josh Smith: Absolutely monster night rebounding, grabbing 18, and had 30 points, which on the surface sounds like an amazing game. At times it was, but then there were the frequent airballed jumpshots that left the viewer questioning what Josh was thinking. The effects of the 4 OT game also seemed apparent in Josh's legs and lack of hustle at times, but that could have also been the significant minutes he played again tonight trying to carry the team in Joe's absence. 6/10

Zaza Pachulia: Quiet night for Zaza who lost most of his second half minutes to the red-hot Ivan Johnson. Helped the Hawks outrebound the Bucks, and it would have been interesting to see him and Ivan on the court together as it may have forced the Hawks to go inside instead of relying on perimeter shots. 4/10

Kirk Hinrich: When Kirk had his shot against Ellis it wasn't much different than Jeff or Joe. If the defense is going to be that poor, it would help if the outside shots were falling (Hinrich finished 1-for-6 from behind the arc). 2/10

Ivan Johnson: The lone bright spot for the Hawks in an otherwise forgettable 4th quarter. Finished a perfect 7-for-7 from the floor for a career high 17 points, including a three pointer. Also was impressive defensively getting a pair of steals from Milwaukee guards 8/10

Tracy McGrady: With the Hawks only playing 9 players, and Joe missing significant time in the 1st, it's surprising how little TMac played. Missed both of his shot attempts, but at least grabbed a couple of rebounds and had an assist. 2/10

Willie Green: Certainly doesn't seem healthy, and also played quite sparingly. Only had two quick fouls and a turnover in his 6 minutes of action incomplete

The head coach It's like a broken record. Injuries and a shortened-schedule have left the Hawks with a tired roster that is going to have games where Joe won't score 20+ and save the day in the 4th. With 15 games to go, can the Hawks secure a top 6 seed (to avoid Chicago and Miami in the first round) and be healthy enough to make noise in the playoffs?

A thought regarding the opposition
Last night in the loss to the Knicks, Monta Elis was 2-for-14 for 4 points. Against the tired legs of the Hawks, he scored 33.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Initial Feedback: Who's Ready For a Day Off?

Initial feedback: A completely subjective and immediate response to the events of tonight's game, featuring a comment and rating, the latter on a scale of 1 to 10, on every player who saw the floor and the head coach, along with ephemera and miscellany as the author deems necessary.

Your ratings and commentary, dear reader, are welcomed in the comments to this post.


Jeff Teague: No one would have blamed the Hawks for packing it in, down five, just before Teague's and-one in the second overtime. A big bucket in a poor shooting night to that point. Credit due for Devin Harris shooting even worse. 6/10

Kirk Hinrich: For the second straight night, he was a big part of pulling the Hawks back into the game in the second half. 5/10

Joe Johnson: When a guy doesn't rely on athleticism so much as skill to score, perhaps he's better suited to maintain effectiveness when fatigued. Or maybe it's just not that hard to score against CJ Miles. His fatigue showed only in some of the passes he choose to make, not when the ball left his hand en route to the bottom of the net. 10/10

Josh Smith: Was a major defensive factor in the first half but, very understandably, didn't have much left in the tank after halftime. Given his play of late, he deserved to watch an entertaining basketball game as much as anyone. 7/10

Zaza Pachulia: A massive effort against Al Jefferson. Zaza struggled to guard him, but did everything he could to make up for that, including not sending Jefferson to foul line. 7/10

Marvin Williams: Like Hinrich, the Hawks don't get back in either of the last two games without Marvin Williams. He can still have a possession where he dribbles the ball off his person before throwing a pass off Zaza's face, but the Hawks are going to need rebounding and efficient scoring from Marvin in order to do anything in the postseason. 7/10

Willie Green: Couldn't initially rise to Hinrich's level but there was likely value, long-term in him sopping up some minutes and not just because Gordon Hayward seemed to really enjoy initiating Utah's offense while Green guarded him. Green looked relatively fresh in the fourth overtime. 4/10

Ivan Johnson: A second straight solid night off the bench. I say give him 20 minutes a night for the next couple weeks to see if a regular, defined role in the rotation suits him. You can't count on Tracy McGrafy's knee or Vladimir Radmanovic's back. Not really. 4/10

Jason Collins: A self-parody at this point. 1/10

The head coach
I get that he doesn't have a lot of good options, doesn't have a guaranteed contract for next season, and the Hawks (quite naturally) want home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Still, there are 16 games to be played over the next 32 days and I hope the very admirable effort evidenced tonight doesn't come back to bite the team down the stretch. 7/10

A thought regarding the opposition
Paul Millsap's pretty good but he's not nearly as tall as Solomon Jones.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Initial Feedback: Different Class

Initial feedback: A completely subjective and immediate response to the events of tonight's game, featuring a comment and rating, the latter on a scale of 1 to 10, on every player who saw the floor and the head coach, along with ephemera and miscellany as the author deems necessary.

Your ratings and commentary, dear reader, are welcomed in the comments to this post.


Jeff Teague: Always aggressive but not intermittently effective. There's no doubt that this type of game is a necessary part of his learning and development. There's also no doubt that he could have been playing this type of game either of the last two seasons. 6/10

Kirk Hinrich: Timely contributions following Jeff Teague leaving the game with five fouls. Even with the vast gulf in quickness between them, Hinrich can defend John Wall pretty effectively since Wall won't kill you if you go under ball-screens. Plus, it's not like the Wizards surround Wall with shooters, so Hinrich had plenty of help when needed. 5/10

Joe Johnson: Put a dent in Chris Singleton's defensive reputation but didn't convert a percentage of shots befitting their quality. It was like March basketball worlds colliding, with Joe Johnson as honorary Jayhawk. The go-ahead possession should provide the template for every Atlanta possession. The lesson: Joe Johnson can't turn a defensive switch into a shot attempt at the rim on his own but he sure can make an open shot that team-wide ball and player movement creates for him. 7/10

Josh Smith: Quite understandably looked tired, having played a lot of minutes in three close games this week. Effective when going to the basket and made some jumpers in the first half and the one that tied the game at 90. To his credit, despite the heavy legs, he had a serious defensive impact. At least until a shot went up. After that, he was often just one of five Hawks getting overwhelmed by the Wizards on the defensive glass. 7/10

Zaza Pachulia: I don't know that he would have played tonight were the alternatives not Jason Collins and Erick Dampier. It's not often Zaza goes 10 minutes before grabbing his first rebound. Looked much more himself in the second half, carrying Atlanta's offense for much of the third quarter. 5/10

Marvin Williams: With Joe Johnson and Kirk Hinrich largely ineffective offensively for the first 40 minutes, Marvin brought a much-needed boost off the bench. You know, if Al Horford were healthy, the Hawks would have a pretty nice 8-man rotation. Of course, if Al Horford were healthy, the Hawks might have tried to trade Zaza Pachulia again, also. 5/10

Ivan Johnson: The way he contributes against the second units of lesser teams confirms his place int he league. Unless the opposition has a post behemoth on the court, Jason Collins should never be on the floor ahead of Ivan Johnson. 4/10

Willie Green: He defended Jordan Crawford well. If Crawford makes those shots, you tip your cap to him and invite him to do the same the next time you meet. 3/10

Vladimir Radmanovic: Provided an object lesson in the value of the three-point shot in the third and fourth quarters. Later, he provided in object lesson in the value of Vladimir Radmanovic not dribbling. 3/10

Jason Collins: Now on a 57-day, 7-game, 63-minute scoreless streak. 1/10

The head coach
Hanging around and waiting for the inferior team to beat themselves isn't a bad idea given the hand Larry Drew's been dealt. Of the 10 Hawks who played, I'd be hard pressed to convince that more than seven of them were fully healthy. For three quarters, before a shot went up, the Hawks played good defense. In the fourth quarter, they started rebounding Washington's missed shots. For all the frustrations and absences, this is clearly an above average defensive team. 6/10

A thought regarding the opposition
The Wizards (Jordan Crawford and Chris Singleton in particular) made some shots the Hawks were perfectly content to let them attempt. Making shots always helps, but they controlled much of the game by virtue of all the rebounds they got off their own misses. 14 through three quarters equaled a 10-point lead. None in the fourth quarter equaled just 14 points and, ultimately, a loss.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Initial Feedback: Winning Streak

Initial feedback: A completely subjective and immediate response to the events of tonight's game, featuring a comment and rating, the latter on a scale of 1 to 10, on every player who saw the floor and the head coach, along with ephemera and miscellany as the author deems necessary.

Your ratings and commentary, dear reader, are welcomed in the comments to this post.


Jeff Teague: The difference between this season's Hawks team playing one good quarter to dismiss inferior opposition and the past two seasons' Hawks teams playing one good quarter to dismiss inferior opposition is, largely, Al Horford. Losing a really good player affects your margin for error. Zaza Pachulia's absence tonight only exaggerated that narrow margin. 7/10

Joe Johnson: Speaking of narrow margins, there's not much difference between a heroic 22-point, 19-shot performance and a doesn't make you lose by itself against a lottery team 16-point, 17-shot performance. Joe Johnson plays in that margin most of the time now and the Hawks are less than a third of the way through his contract. 5/10

Josh Smith: There's no doubt that Horford's absence is an aesthetic as well as a practical loss. Even when taking care of business, the Hawks don't evidence much understanding of how they're accomplishing that. For example, Josh Smith made 11 of 14 field goals and 6 of 8 free throws when going toward the basket. He made 1 of 11 jump shots. This is not just a Josh Smith problem. Those bad shots are not all bad decisions he makes. This is an Atlanta Hawks problem. 8/10

Kirk Hinrich: Joe Johnson has a long and distinguished history of defending Deron Williams effectively. The small lineup (and injuries) didn't make that possible. Hinrich and Teague both struggled with Williams' strength but both battled gamely and, just as importantly, made shots on the other end to more than mitigate that mismatch. 6/10

Jason Collins: Other than Shelden Williams, no one did more to hold Shelden Williams scoreless than Jason Collins. Williams deserves no like credit in the other direction. That was all Jason Collins. 1/10

Marvin Williams: A welcome return for a player who figures to be essential in the playoffs given Horford's likely absence and McGrady's rapid physical disintegration. Given Williams' playoff history, I don't blame the less confident among us. 6/10

Ivan Johnson: Activity does not always actualize. Congratulations on the birth of your namesake, an energetic, unfocused effort does not surprise given the circumstances. 3/10

Tracy McGrady: Had nothing. Doubled down on Josh Smith's truly wonderful T. Only the greats can draw a T after getting the call because they think a different referee should have called the foul. McGrady's piggy-backing smacked of chasing former glory. 1/10

Willie Green: Yes, I considered whether or not I'd rather have Gerald Green. Willie isn't healthy and one hopes he doesn't make things worse through an admirable instinct to answer the bell. 1/10

Jerry Stackhouse: Made no impact in the game nor an entry in the boxscore while being on the court for the final 81.8% of New Jersey's 11-0 run that ended the third quarter. 0/10

The head coach
Josh Smith took 11 jump shots. The Hawks trailed the Nets at home after three quarters. The injuries aren't his fault, the lousy roster construction isn't all his fault, but the team remains unconvincing. Fans of several teams would not take an adequate head coach in charge of decent talent for granted. Almost four seasons in, it's getting old here. Or maybe I'm just getting old. Either way, let's do it again tomorrow night. 4/10

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Initial Feedback: Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows

Initial feedback: A completely subjective and immediate response to the events of tonight's game, featuring a comment and rating, the latter on a scale of 1 to 10, on every player who saw the floor and the head coach, along with ephemera and miscellany as the author deems necessary.

Your ratings and commentary, dear reader, are welcomed in the comments to this post.


Jeff Teague: I'm beginning to think that Jeff Teague is a fairly substantial cause of Atlanta's poor pick-and-roll defense in Al Horford's absence. Still, he's a talented enough offensive player and defensive gambler to break even on nights when he scores 12 points on 9 shots, earns 7 assists, and grabs four steals. 5/10

Joe Johnson: You agree to pay the man $123 million over 6 years because he can shake off a 3-14 night to make a clutch three en route to dragging a short-handed (largely because he's being paid $123 million over 6 years and was 3-14 on the night) team to an overtime win at home against the 24th best team in the NBA. This should be the night memorialized in statue when the franchise decides giving $200 million to Joe Johnson, his agent, and the government just isn't sufficient expression of gratitude to an above average (playoffs not included) player. I envy Bob Rathbun's ability to be delighted by another 22 point, 19 shot Joe Johnson performance at this point. 6/10

Josh Smith: A rather sui generis Josh Smith night wherein he scores 32 points, grabs 17 rebounds, earn 5 assists, and blocks 3 shots while making a fairly strong argument for not getting anywhere near his next contract. 30 of those points were scored in the paint (on 20 shots and 14 free throw attempts). He scored 2 points on 9 jump shots and made no effort to box out a Cavalier. Once he can no longer rely on his athleticism to bail out his purposelessness, he'll have nothing. 7/10

Zaza Pachulia: Making open layups late in close games just isn't his thing. Otherwise, another very solid night. 5/10

Kirk Hinrich: Younger men than Hinrich (Teague tonight, for one) have failed and will fail to stay in front of Kyrie Irving. In a similar vein, lots of guys can score 10 points on 13 shots before fouling out. 3/10

Tracy McGrady: I'm losing interest in Tracy McGrady and Marvin Williams playing together. I also suspect we've heard the last playing time demand from McGrady this season. 1/10

Willie Green: He's back. 2/10

Jerry Stackhouse: Possibly the best Atlanta guard or wing or 30-something in regulation. Can't knock his effort even if his presence on the roster doesn't convince. 4/10

Jason Collins: Did not use any offensive possessions while going scoreless tonight, tallying just two fouls in five minutes and eight seconds. During which the Hawks were outscored by 12 points. 1/10

The head coach
It's not his fault that guys are hurt, the bench stinks, and the Hawks are on course for a fifth consecutive losing playoff record. It would take a special coach to change the direction of the franchise and you get what you pay for at both ends of the bench. 4/10

Is Jason Collins Playing Too Much?

I was thinking about an article I read last year over at Wages of Wins that compared the number of minutes allocated by various teams to what it termed "bad players." The main thrust of the article was to praise the Chicago Bulls for making personnel decisions that resulted in the fewest "bad players" on its roster, and for allocating the fewest minutes to those players.

It got me thinking, could Jason Collins be the most over-used bad player in NBA history? The table below shows how Collins ranks, according to John Hollinger's Player Statistics, in lowest Player Efficiency Rating over the last 7 seasons among players to play in at least 10 games and average at least 10 minutes per game. The only season in which Collins failed to rank in the bottom 5 in this category was 2009-10, when Mike Woodson blessedly allocated only 4.8 MPG to Collins.

Lowest PER among players w/ 10 MPG and 10 GP:

Year GP MPG PER Rank

2011-12 15 10.0 0.97 1st

2010-11 49 12.1 5.37 3rd

2009-10 24 4.8 0.96 NR

2008-09 31 13.6 3.29 1st

2007-08 74 15.8 3.40 4th

2006-07 80 23.1 3.02 2nd

2005-06 71 26.7 5.49 5th

Once again, my interest here is not to engage in a discussion of the valididty of Hollinger's PER statistic. The argument is frequently made that certain players (such as Bruce Bowen) contribute to winning basketball in ways that are not reflected in the raw statistics that PER compares. If anyone would like to make an argument that Collins makes a Bowen-like defensive impact that's not given justice by this post, please have at it in the comments.

Here's my argument: In Monday's game against the Celtics, Collins checked in with 6:16 to play in the third quarter after Jeff Teague's monster dunk over Ray Allen. The Hawks led 47-40 after Allen's technical free throw. Over the next 3:34, the Celtics rattled off 5 unanswered points. Collins' plays looked like this: offensive foul, turnover, defensive rebound, missed a pair of free throws, offensive rebound, traveling, defensive rebound, missed a pair of free throws.

That's what the eye test shows you. The raw stats for Collins, as reflected in the table above, are also stunningly-consistent over 7 seasons.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Quote of the Day -- March 20, 2012

“I don’t even know who you are talking about. That guy’s a nobody.’’

No Hawk was assessed a technical foul for excessive celebration after Teague closed out the home loss with an air ball on a three-point attempt.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Initial Feedback: The Latest Offensive Implosion

Initial feedback: A completely subjective and immediate response to the events of tonight's game, featuring a comment and rating, the latter on a scale of 1 to 10, on every player who saw the floor and the head coach, along with ephemera and miscellany as the author deems necessary.

Your ratings and commentary, dear reader, are welcomed in the comments to this post.


Jeff Teague: That his emphatic third quarter dunk came with a technical foul attached was all too typical of Atlanta's misguided effort. A rare offensive triumph undercut by misdirected effort. Nice hip-check on Rondo to free Joe Johnson for the three that made it 71-75. 3/10

Kirk Hinrich: A dreadful night, ineffectual offensively and frequently at fault on the infrequent occasions Boston scored. His block of Brandon Bass followed by setting up Joe Johnson for a game-tying transition three seemed a notable fourth quarter exception at the time. 'Twas not to be. 3/10

Joe Johnson: Atypically and delightfully took a page out of Paul Pierce's book to draw and sell minimal contact on Pierce's fourth foul early in the third quarter. Otherwise, he hit shots only intermittently and did nothing of value when not hitting shots. Perked up briefly after the Hawks fell behind by 15. Committed his seventh turnover once the Hawks were back within four. 4/10

Josh Smith: There's not a direct correlation between seven jump shot Josh Smith quarters and 15 point Atlanta Hawks quarters but the two are not unrelated. We can (and should) argue circles about whether the jumpers are indicative or the cause of bad offense but the results are, either way, dispiriting. As was his remonstrating at Tracy McGrady prior to the in-bounds play that ended the third quarter. Once the ball was in play, McGrady wasn't the one who lost a man who sneakily moved five feet to the left. He made 3-4 jump shots in the first four-and-a-half minutes. Boston let him shoot eight more. He missed them all. 4/10

Zaza Pachulia: Grabbed 8 of Atlanta's 22 rebounds (and all three of the team's offensive rebounds) in the first half when not serving as a scapegoat for Tracy McGrady or Joe Johnson's inability to create offense off the dribble. This team can be so miserable to watch. Dribbling establishes status, rebounding just happens. 5/10

Tracy McGrady: His production has dipped to the point where playing back-to-back games can't adversely affect it too much. Here's hoping he can play again this week. 3/10

Ivan Johnson: The difference between playing the Cavaliers and playing the Celtics, in microcosm. 2/10

Jerry Stackhouse: It must be the dog days of the season. Back-to-back Jerry Stackhouse makes in the second quarter gave the Hawks a four-point lead (and the game a much needed instance of back-to-back makes) drove my thoughts to utility of writing about a playoff team not just employing but playing Jerry Stackhouse in 2012. That he was playing because Jannero Pargo, Willie Green, and Vladimir Radmanovic were all unavailable brought no comfort in the grand scheme of things. 3/10

Jason Collins: I don't deny he has his use and acknowledge both that he's better than Erick Dampier and was on the court in the third quarter due, in part, to Zaza Pachulia needing to visit the locker room. Still, 0 points on 5 possessions is bad. Even in the context of this game. Four rebounds were a nice surprise. 1/10

The head coach
The injuries aren't his fault and he can't do anything to change them. Josh Smith's shot selection isn't his fault. Joe Johnson's meandering dribbling isn't his fault. The difference there is that Larry Drew has proven incapable of instilling change. This team remains perfectly capable of overpowering inferior opposition and folding to the slightest residual competency from a marginal opponent. It's not a good sign that the Hawks came back only once the game became ragged and desperate. 2/10

A thought regarding the opposition
A shadow of their former selves, the aged Celtics should serve as an object lesson the Hawks as to the dangers of stasis with an expensive core surrounded by fungible spare parts. The Hawks got their core together younger, the Celtics timed their acquisitions perfectly. Without change, neither will end ceremoniously. At least the Celtics got to enjoy three Hall of Famers and a championship out of the journey.

Remaining Schedule Favorable to Hawks

It was a good weekend for the Hawks as the Magic, 76ers, Pacers and Celtics all lost while Atlanta assembled a modest 2-game win streak. Among Eastern Conference teams, only the Bulls (impressively, given injury woes) have a better record in the last 10 games than the 6-4 Hawks.

The Hawks presently hold the 6th seed in playoff position, and must overtake division rival Orlando (2.5 games ahead in the standings) to gain home court advantage. The Hawks are ahead of Philadelphia in winning percentage, but the 76ers hold the 4th playoff position because they lead the Atlantic division (the seeding process is explained here).

Tonight's opponent the Celtics are the team immediately behind the Hawks in the playoff picture, currently holding the 7th position. However, if Boston hopes to move up, the team has its work cut out for it. The Celtics have played the 5th-easiest schedule in the league thus far. This site shows the strength of schedule for remaining opponents among Eastern Conference teams. The Celtics face the second-toughest remaining schedule while Atlanta, which has faced the 3rd-hardest schedule, will face the 2nd-easiest schedule the rest of the way.

Further, while the Celtics and 76ers have the most road games remaining among Eastern Conference teams (13) and the fewest home games (8 for Philadelphia, 9 for Boston), the Hawks have the most home games (14) and fewest road games (7). The Hawks would do well to deny the Celtics a much-needed road victory tonight at Phillips Arena.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Initial Feedback: The Latest Offensive Explosion

Initial feedback: A completely subjective and immediate response to the events of tonight's game, featuring a comment and rating, the latter on a scale of 1 to 10, on every player who saw the floor and the head coach, along with ephemera and miscellany as the author deems necessary.

Your ratings and commentary, dear reader, are welcomed in the comments to this post.

By Mark Phelps



Joe Johnson: Joe's hot hand started the game out as he used his size advantage to expose the defensive limitations of the Cavs' backcourt. He stayed hot throughout the game, finishing 11-of-16 and 3-4 from the arc, surprisingly playing off the ball and getting int catch-and-shoot situations often. Joe also picked up five assists and four rebounds. Since both Teague and Hinrich are starting and Joe is technically moving up to the small forward slot, you might expect a few more rebounds, but you can't argue too much with a great game like this. 9/10

Josh Smith: Josh provided the flipside to Joe's coin, extremely cold shooting from the floor, finishing a paltry 3-15, but the nine assists, eight boards, and ability to guard five positions shows that he's a more complete player than often given credit for. A great use of a poor shooting night, even if his defense was lacking late in the game. 5/10

Zaza Pachulia: You can't fault Zaza's energy for the game. Despite not shooting well, he was all over the court, fighting for rebounds and hounding the Cleveland offense. His 12 rebounds helped swing the game the Hawks' direction early, and so far, only twice in March has he been kept from the double-digit plateau in rebounds. He picked up 40 minutes on the front half of a back-to-back, showing why he is an integral part to this Hawks team. 5/10

Kirk Hinrich: Hinrich has shown flashes of his old self this month, and this is what you want to see. His effective use of screens and penetration of the lane led to a 6-10 shooting performance. A few more assists than the one he chalked up would be nice, but if we see this side of Kirk more often, there will be no complaints over not
dealing him at the deadline. 6/10

Jeff Teague: Absolutely great day for Teague. Jeff saw a lot of action with both the first and second units, had a great shooting day at 8-14, and hounded the super-quick Kyrie Irving as much as anyone could expect. Though he didn't share the ball as well as he might, he still provided a great spark on offense and didn't seem to lose a step on D. 7/10

Ivan Johnson: Would anyone bother defining Ivan as anything other than a hustle player? It totally paid off today, as he was constantly being rewarded for solid positioning and running the court. He was 5-5 from the floor and picked up four rebounds. Even if the Cavs aren't a top-tier team, he really showed why he was pulled out of the D-league today. 8/10

Tracy McGrady: It's always great to see Tracy play well -- the Hawks become a much deeper team, and we needed that with numerous injuries and illnesses affecting the Hawks bench today. Excellent energy in attacking the basket and using his length to harass the Cavs on both offense and defense. Quietly efficient basketball and six rebounds off the bench from the small forward slot. 6/10

Jerry Stackhouse: Give it to Jerry Stackhouse. He will never know at the beginning of a game if he will play one minute of game time and he's far too old to be what he used to be, but he always comes out with the fervor of a player half his age. Jerry picked up nine points, including three on trips to the line in nine minutes. 5/10

Jason Collins: Hey! Jason Collins is, there you have it. Incomplete

Erick Dampier: One minute for Erick. Incomplete

The head coach
Drew played a reasonably smart game today, using the Hawks' height advantage to run the score up early -- the Cavs never led after the first five minutes of the game. He was also able to rest Joe & Josh a bit since the Hawks will be back home to play another tomorrow against Boston. Effective use of post offense and high screens for the long-range guns, and we help push the Cavs one step closer to another postseason off. 7/10

A thought regarding the opposition
1) Why have people been saying the race for Rookie of the Year was between Irving and Rubio? Even before he was hurt, Rubio has still not been the player Irving has been. I know every team would love to have this guy. Great shooter, above average passer. Oh yeah, he's NINETEEN. Point guards of the NBA, watch out.

2) I was a little surprised the Cavs waived Jason Kapono after the trade that sent Ramon Sessions to L.A. Sure, he's not the player he was a few years back, but he can still be a dangerous long-range weapon and he was signed for minimum money. It will be interesting to see if any team that needs a bomber going into the playoffs takes a gamble on him.

Notes: Neither Kapono nor also-newly-acquired Luke Walton played in this game. Former Hawk Donald Sloan did step onto the court for a minute.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Initial Feedback: Medium Fish Eat the Little Ones

Initial feedback: A completely subjective and immediate response to the events of tonight's game, featuring a comment and rating, the latter on a scale of 1 to 10, on every player who saw the floor and the head coach, along with ephemera and miscellany as the author deems necessary.

Your ratings and commentary, dear reader, are welcomed in the comments to this post.

Joe Johnson: It's good to see that the pre-trade-deadline tendinitis has cleared up. 9/10

Josh Smith: After Rick Sund energized the fan base with the trade of a second round draft pick for cash, Smoove followed up with one of his most entertaining dunks of the year, a reverse 180 that brought back memories of Dominique. If Sund has stuck with the core this long, the Hawks need to stick with it through next season's playoffs. To trade Josh in the off-season or at next year's trading deadline without seeing what this group can do in the playoffs with a healthy roster would be a travesty. 8/10

Zaza Pachulia: Energized the fan base with yet another double-double. Did you enjoy the 7 assists? 7/10

Kirk Hinrich: It took 41 minutes of playing time, but 5 points and 5 assists with zero turnovers is a spectacular line for Kirk, relative to how he's been playing. With the Lakers trading for Ramon Sessions, Kirk will remain a Hawk through the playoffs. He's getting better, and we might see another impact performance in the postseason like what we saw against Orlando. He still has a chance to be worth two first-rounders if he can help the Hawks win another playoff series. 6/10

Jeff Teague: A performance that reminds you what Teague can do defensively when he tries. His 14 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals against John Wall were impressive. As he watches Mike Woodson's treatment of Jeremy Lin, the sensation who doubled MSG's market capitalization in 10 magical February days, Teague should count himself fortunate that he has earned Larry Drew's trust. 7/10

Ivan Johnson: Had a monster dunk of his own, and for one play he looked like the fearless player who won a spot in the rotation early this season. That was before Drew's roller coaster minutes made Ivan start second guessing himself and hesitating with his offense. A modest 6 points and 2 rebounds in 15 minutes was his line for the night. 4/10

Tracy McGrady: Played only 9 minutes, which apparently wasn't enough for T-Mac to give his usual production. Had only 2 points and did not record an assist or a rebound. 2/10

Vladimir Radmanovic: Played only 5 minutes, so I won't bother with assigning a grade. Incomplete

Jannero Pargo: Not one of his more explosive scoring performances of the season, but this is exactly what you want from Pargo: 8 points, 1 assist and zero turnovers in 14 minutes. 6/10

The head coach
Drew should be happy that Woodson is back in business in New York. It means he's no longer a branch on a dead coaching tree. It will be interesting to see how the Hawks and Knicks perform down the stretch because both coaches have a limited opportunity to audition for a more permanent position. Can't give Drew too much credit for this performance against depleted bottom feeders. 5/10

A thought regarding the opposition
The trade of Nene for JaVale McGee helps both teams. George Karl may turn McGee into a better player than Nene, and the Nuggets obviously wouldn't ship out their franchise center for a project if he hadn't disappointed. But any transformation of McGee into a solid player was never going to happen in Washington, and Nene will instantly raise the team's professionalism. This failure of the Wizards' organizational culture reminds me how it took the Hawks organization way longer than it should have to realize (in two senses) the potential of Smoove, Teague and Zaza.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Initial Feedback: Running on Fumes

by James Goeders

Initial feedback: A completely subjective and immediate response to the events of tonight's game, featuring a comment and rating, the latter on a scale of 1 to 10, on every player who saw the floor and the head coach, along with ephemera and miscellany as the author deems necessary.

Your ratings and commentary, dear reader, are welcomed in the comments to this post.


Jeff Teague: Teague was given the tough task of guarding Chris Paul after playing 40+ minutes last night and the fatigue showed in his jump shot. Jeff was only 3-of-11 from the floor finishing with 10 points. The 5 dimes and 3 rebounds were nice, especially combined with 0 turnovers, but the guards in general gave up way too many shots. 3/10

Kirk Hinrich: A night after having his best game of the season, Hinrich went back to being mostly ineffective ending the game with a single made field goal and only 4 points. He did come down with 5 rebounds. 2/10

Joe Johnson: Joe did his best to keep the Hawks in this one, but by the second half the jumpshots weren't even making it to the basket. Way too many three point attempts came up short and Joe kept shooting them. Leading scorer for the Hawks with 19 and had 5 assists, but only grabbed 1 rebound. 5/10

Josh Smith: J-Smoove had another perfect night from the line and a decent night overall shooting 6-of-14 for 18 points (his lowest total in March). Early foul trouble kept him off the court for extended periods leading to more minutes for TMac. Josh pulled down 6 rebounds and had 4 assists, his fourth straight game with at least 3 assists. Had another monster block, this time stuffing Mo Williams, about the only time the Hawks slowed him down all night. 5/10

Zaza Pachulia: Zaza very quietly had another double-double, his fourth in the last seven games, on 5-of-8 shooting from the floor. Will be good to get Ivan Johnson back to give Zaza some help and an occasional rest. 6/10

Tracy McGrady: TMac played the most minutes of anyone off the bench, which makes sense since he hasn't been in action in almost a week. McGrady finished with 9 points and only 3 assists, but you can tell he sees the court better than most players on the team and is consistently finding the open man. To completely refute that point, he's got to cut down on the turnovers. 4/10

Jannero Pargo: Much better effort tonight than last night in Denver with 2-of-4 three pointers falling in. Finished with 8 points in 15 minutes of action but grabbed just 1 rebound with no assists. 2/10

Jerry Stackhouse: Stack played 13 minutes off the bench which showed just how desperate the Hawks were for warm bodies to put on the court. 1/10

Erick Dampier: Even with Zaza having played a ton of minutes last night and Ivan Johnson and Vladimir Radmanovic not playing at all tonight, Damp still only got in the game for 9 minutes and again did not have a single field goal attempt. If the big man isn't going to take any shots, can he at least try and grab some rebounds? 1/10

The head coach A lab created super coach wasn't going to pull this one out tonight for the Hawks. The lack of any bench production and the starters coming off an overtime road game the night before just spelled disaster for the Hawks against an athletic opponent.

A thought regarding the opposition Mo Williams led all scorers with 25 off the bench and the Clippers were able to get an easy victory playing the second team for most of the second half. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were the only starters to play over 30 minutes.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Initial Feedback: Missed Opportunities

By James Goeders

Initial feedback: A completely subjective and immediate response to the events of tonight's game, featuring a comment and rating, the latter on a scale of 1 to 10, on every player who saw the floor and the head coach, along with ephemera and miscellany as the author deems necessary.

Your ratings and commentary, dear reader, are welcomed in the comments to this post.


Jeff Teague: Teague played a ton of minutes but had a tough time from the floor only scoring 9 on 2-of-8 shooting. Jeff was able to dish out 8 assists and grab 5 rebounds, but he had a tough time defensively with Ty Lawson 4/10

Kirk Hinrich: Hinrich was huge in this game getting another start at the 2, but he mostly will be remembered for missing the free throw with 1.1 seconds remaining that would have given the Hawks the lead (his only miss from the line all night). Kirk had his first 20+ point game of the season (22) building on his strong March. Hinrich finished 7-of-8 from the floor (3-of-4 from behind the arc) and had 4 assists, but not a single rebound. 6/10

Joe Johnson: It was a weird game for Joe, as he started hot but the two early fouls got Pargo in much earlier than anyone would want. One might think that moving over to the 3 would get Joe more chances at rebounds, but he finished with only 2. His game high 34 points (including 6-of-10 from 3) were great, but there were stretches when Joe would dribble out the shot clock and leave the Hawks in a precarious situation. The final 2 minutes of regulation were particularly frustrating after an elite 2nd half. Kept the Hawks in it after Josh fouled out, but this doesn't feel like his team like it did before the break 8/10

Josh Smith: When the jumper is falling J-Smoove is unstoppable, and you get games like tonight. After a rough first quarter, Josh went off and finished with 33 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 blocks in 36 minutes of action. On top of that, Smoove hit 2-of-3 from behind the arc and all 5 free throw opportunities. Josh was beastly on both sides of the court and you could feel the energy leave the team when he fouled out with over a minute left in OT. 9/10

Zaza Pachulia: Zaza did work on the glass grabbing 13 rebounds, but the missed lay-in at the buzzer was all anyone will remember. The playcall was perfect but the shot just did not go down. With Ivan Johnson currently not available there is a huge hole defensively when Zaza is on the bench. His 45 minutes tonight will make things quite interesting tomorrow when he's chasing Blake Griffin around. 5/10

Marvin Williams: Another great night for Marvin off the bench as he was one of only four Hawks players in double figures. Amazing energy all over the court with 3 steals, 2 dimes, and 2 rebounds. Vital in the Hawks' run in the 3rd quarter. Marvin is finally aggressively going to the basket, and then he was knocked out of the game with a right hip injury. He came in as a decoy on the final possession of regulation, but it was quite disappointing to not have him down the stretch. 6/10

Vladimir Radmanovic: Definition of worthless tonight. Missed all four shots from the floor (all behind the arc) to finish with no points and four fouls. You'd think a guy playing 11 minutes at the 4/5 would luck into more than 2 rebounds. What has happened to this 3-point specialist? 1/10

Jannero Pargo: Joined VladRad as the two worst Hawks players in +/- finishing with a -11. Pargo was also mostly ineffective on the court making 1-of-5 shots and finishing with 3 points. He was able to grab 2 rebounds and dish out 3 assists making his night less of an abomination. Lost the inbounds pass with 9 seconds left off his knee giving Denver the opportunity to make the go-ahead 3 pointer. 2/10

Erick Dampier: Four completely irrelevant minutes 1/10

The head coach Tried throwing a number of different things at Denver to slow down their offense (going small, going to a zone, etc) and it should have led to the Hawks stealing one on the road. After giving up 64 points in the first half, the Hawks held Denver to 54 in the 2nd (including OT). It was good to see him pick up the technical defending Josh (and Marvin) who were both knocked to the ground by Nene in successive possessions. As short handed as the Hawks were, Coach Drew got all he could hope for from the starters and Marvin. Will be interesting to see what he can do tomorrow with so many guys playing 40+ minutes.

A thought regarding the opposition Gallinari's fade-away three to go up 1 at the end of regulation was just absurd. Denver has a weakness falling asleep inside on defense, and the Hawks drew up the perfect play to exploit it and win the game, and the shot just did not fall.

Hawks Ownership Plays Semantics Game Regarding Josh Smith's Trade Desire

The Associated Press is reporting that the likelihood of the Hawks trading Josh Smith before Thursday's trade deadline is "as close to zero as you can get," according to Atlanta Spirit part-owner Bruce Levenson.

The AP story quotes Levenson saying, "I don't know where the rumors are coming from and neither does Josh. [He] said to me, 'They're not coming from me, Bruce. They're not coming from my agent.'"

The problem with this bit of revisionism is that Atlanta Journal-Constitution Hawks beat writer Michael Cunningham never specified in his blog entry that Josh or his agent were his source. Josh Smith still has not gone on record saying he does not want to be traded or that Cunningham's source was incorrect about his desires or lack of faith in the organization's commitment to winning a championship.

Until Josh goes on record to deny that the comments of Cunningham's source accurately reflect his feelings, denials such as the above from Levenson will ring a bit hollow.

Narrow-margin Road Futility Reaches Historic Proportions for Atlanta Hawks

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Hawks, after tonight's 118-117 loss at Denver, have tied the Pistons (from 1978 to 1981) and Clippers (1994 to 2002) for the longest streak of one-point road losses in NBA history. The Hawks have now lost their last nine road games decided by one point, dating back to March 2007.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Initial Feedback: Volume Shooting Continues to Work

By James Goeders

Initial feedback: A completely subjective and immediate response to the events of tonight's game, featuring a comment and rating, the latter on a scale of 1 to 10, on every player who saw the floor and the head coach, along with ephemera and miscellany as the author deems necessary.

Your ratings and commentary, dear reader, are welcomed in the comments to this post.


Jeff Teague: Jeff looked really good against the 5'9" Isiah Thomas, scoring 16 points (shooting 7-for-11 from the floor) with 7 assists and 3 steals. Made the only 3 he took and had a sick dunk off of a turnover. 7/10

Joe Johnson: In the first half it looked like the knee was still bothering Joe a great deal as he started 1-for-7. He did have 6 assists, but at times seemed timid and too willing to give up the ball. Totally turned that around in the 2nd half finishing with 21 points (his highest point total since January 31 against Toronto). Made all 9 FT attempts which was vital in the final minute to preserve the victory. 7/10

Kirk Hinrich: Hinrich got the start at the 2 even with Joe back in the lineup to try and match the smaller size Sacramento put on the court. Finished with 12 points (helped by 2-of-5 shooting from behind the arc), 3 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals. Played 42 minutes (the most of any player) and was most useful defensively as Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton were both held way below their ppg averages. 6/10

Josh Smith: Tonight was precisely why the Hawks cannot afford to trade J-Smoove. Josh led all scorers with 28 points, 19 coming in the 2nd half. The 3rd quarter was all Josh, Joe, and Jeff as they scored 26 of the Hawks 29 points (Vlad Rad hit the 3). Smoove kept playing aggressive and when he was double-teamed did a great job of finding the open man (which was usually Joe Johnson standing alone at the 3 point line) resulting in 3 assists. Did work on defense getting 3 blocks and 3 steals. Still took too many jumpers (FIVE 3 pointers!), but finished shooting 57% from the floor 9/10

Zaza Pachulia: Zaza was a beast in the first half, recording a double double with 4 minutes remaining in the 2nd quarter. Was outmatched at times by the 6'11" 270 lb Cousins, but grabbed 13 rebounds to go with his 10 points. Disappeared in the 2nd half when he got into foul trouble, but Marvin and VladRad were able to give quality minutes 7/10

Marvin Williams: Marvin didn't get the start tonight, but had a great game off of the bench finishing with 12 points and 5 rebounds in 24 minutes. Marvin showed incredible effort in the 2nd quarter with the second team. One of the biggest plays of the night was Marvin's steal that he took coast-to-coast and finished with a dunk and an and-1 that fouled out DeMarcus Cousins. Was vital in the final minute when Zaza fouled out and Drew decided to put Marvin at the 4 and Josh at the 5. 8/10

Vladimir Radmanovic: Was a beast off of the bench grabbing 10 rebounds in only 16 minutes of work. Only had 5 points, but was much more useful battling under the hoop. 5/10

Jannero Pargo: Had two just ridiculously bad turnovers in his 7 minutes of action, all coming in the first half. Had one made basket and one horrible airball. Was the only Hawks player with a negative plus/minus (-5) to further demonstrate how bad those 7 minutes were. 1/10

Erick Dampier: Damp came in to spell Zaza for 6 minutes in the first half and did not take a single shot. He was able to grab 2 rebounds to go with an assist and a block. incomplete

The head coach Leaving Marvin on the bench to start the game and going with 3 guards seemed questionable at tipoff. It was even more questionable when the Kings scored 12 of their first 14 points in the paint. However, Marvin seemed to get a spark coming in at the 3:03 mark of the 1st quarter, and for just the second time in the last 31 games all 5 starters scored double figures for the Hawks. Going small obviously worked to slow down the Kings' guards.

A thought regarding the opposition
The Kings are a young team that show it with their carelessness with the basketball. They're dangerous from behind the arc and get a ton of minutes from their bench. Cousins is going to be a stud.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Arena Apothecary: Dig This Groove: Don't Trade Smoove!

Oh, jeez, Travis v. Noam. I'm in an internet friend no man's land:
Over at the bastion of internet awesomeness known as Hardwood Paroxysm, Noam Schiller wrote about the possibility of a Josh Smith trade, and that post included the following:

"Of course, [a trade] fits with us just fine. We hate Josh Smith in Atlanta, and we fully understand if he hates it as well."

Dear Noam, I am a huge fan of your work, but please, please shut up. Atlanta absolutely cannot trade Smoove. I might be the only one, but I most definitely do not hate him. I love Josh Smith; I treasure him, in fact. Because think about it: Josh Smith is almost all we have.

We're not getting out of this maddening, middling mediocrity until the financial albatross that is Joe Johnson's contract comes off the books. (And maybe not even then because the ASG ownership is a walking debacle and a waking nightmare.) Not only is Joe the most overpaid "star" in the game, he's also by far the least entertaining. I have never vehemently disliked watching a good Hawks player before, or any Hawks player, really, but I really, really, hate watching Joe Johnson play basketball. He is the most thoroughly "blah" twenty-a-night guy of all time. Then there's good ol' Al Horford, who when healthy is so very good at his job, but it's all dirty work and grind, the kind of thing you deeply appreciate but can't really admire. I love the man, but he'll never be the recipient of breathless superlatives.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Initial Feedback: Palace Muse Ick

Initial feedback: A completely subjective and immediate response to the events of tonight's game, featuring a comment and rating, the latter on a scale of 1 to 10, on every player who saw the floor and the head coach, along with ephemera and miscellany as the author deems necessary.

Your ratings and commentary, dear reader, are welcomed in the comments to this post.


Jeff Teague: An ineffectual game and his decision not to shoot when Joe Johnson passed him the ball on the final possession summed up the conundrum of his time in Atlanta: where does lack of ability end and lack of confidence begin? 3/10

Joe Johnson: Yay, Joe Johnson's back and he brought dribble non-penetration (against Rodney Stuckey) on the final possession leading to a guarded, 20-foot fall-away for the win (missed) with him. That possession undermined a decent offensive performance. By his standards, if not the terms of his contract. He switched every screen possible defensively, something to watch regarding the true health of his knee. 6/10

Marvin Williams: Makes some shots but he doesn't rebound. Different, but no more or less effective than the norm. 5/10

Josh Smith: If this loss has a silver lining it's the positive reinforcement Larry Drew might have received from leaving Josh Smith in the game in the third quarter with four fouls. Sure, Smith picked up his fifth fairly quickly, but he played 11:26 of the fourth without fouling out. This game (21 points on 19 FGA and 8 FTA) did not help his TS%. 6/10

Zaza Pachulia: Didn't match up well with Greg Monroe, which says more good about Monroe than bad about Pachulia. 3/10

Ivan Johnson: Extremely active on both ends so it's surprising to realize he only grabbed four rebounds (two on each end) in 30:29. 10 points and 5 steals aren't nothing, though. 5/10

Kirk Hinrich: Made some shots, played decent defense. For perhaps the first time this season, he might have deserved more minutes. 4/10

Tracy McGrady: He sees the game the well, but he just can't score anymore. His ability is entirely wrapped up in passing and defensive rebounding. Was on the floor for both big Pistons runs, leading to -17 in just under 16 minutes. 2/10

Vladimir Radmanovic: Short minutes, no reason why not. 2/10

Jannero Pargo: Career eFG%: 44.8. Hawks have been spared those type of games so far this season. 2/10

Erick Dampier: Erick Dampier played in this game. 1/10

The head coach
I gave Larry Drew credit when the Hawks took care of business against bad teams at the start of the season. Well, tonight the Hawks lost to the Pistons and went 13 minutes without a field goal in the second half. Business wasn't good and he's coaching his second straight team with a bottom-third offense. 2/10