Late night for “focused” Hawks

I’m guessing a lot of folks won’t be up for tonight’s game against the L.A. Clippers, which takes place at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Which of course means that much of the chatter will be based on reading box scores and things of that sort. In the end, all that matters is whether there is a “W” or an “L” added to the record, right? Hah! Now what fun would it be if we didn’t split every hair and dissect every reason why we won or lost, or by how many points, or whatever other details we come across? At any rate, let’s go over Hawks vs. Clips for a minute or two, and talk about some other issues.

Joe’s The Man

If you’ve been reading Michael Cunningham’s articles, you’ll see that the normally reserved Joe Johnson has done a bit of talking during and after all-star weekend. For  a sample, here’s a link to some of MC Blog-a-lot’s (copyright, MannyT) latest stuff:

http://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-hawks/cavs-look-to-load-306763.html

Now we’ve been through this a thousand times before. Joe was brought here to be “The Man”, and while people still tend to argue whether or not he’s that kind of guy, he is our top player and leader, for better or for worse. But lately, Johnson has been less critical and more encouraging. Remember earlier in the season when he seemed to be slinging stones in every direction (except, perhaps at himself)? Quite the little dust cloud that seemed to kick up amongst us fans (but apparently not among the players). Some said that was Joe being a true leader and calling the team out for not getting things done. Others said it was Joe pointing fingers and not accepting responsibility. Others simply fanned the flames wherever they seemed hottest (um, yeah, that shoe fits a little too snugly).  You know, a typical day at the blog. Heh, that last sentence was a trip down memory lane for some of you who have been around a couple years….if you have, you know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, back to Joe. I was watching part of the all-star game and I believe it was David Aldridge who was interviewing him while he sat on the bench. Joe was asked about Horford, and whether or not he was nervous or feeling out of sorts during the game. The ever-so-glib shooting guard replied “Naw, he’s good, he’ll be fine. He’ll be ok.” No smirk, no silly Lorenzen Wright style jokes about a younger or less experienced player, nothing. Just support for a teammate who had earned his way to this honor. You could call it politic or diplomatic, but I think he was being sincere. And he was right. Horford held his own and then some in the all-star game. So much so that even the satirical Bill Simmons made mention of it.

But as the article link above will show you, that’s not all Joe has been saying. The man has stepped up and said he is ready to “set the tone” for the second half of the season. Sounds like a man on a mission to me. That’s something you definitely want to hear from your team captain. He’s talked the talk. I can’t wait to see the walk.

 

Fan In The Mirror

With less than 18 hours left before the official trade deadline, it’s time to talk trade and free agency, only not in the usual fashion. With the Hawks likely to stand pat with what they have, let’s look at the moves that have been made, the ones that didn’t, and do it from a different perspective. Longtime Hawks fan and blogger Astro Joe brought the idea of a ‘fess up session. Who were you lobbying for GM Rick Sund to bring over? Were you calling for the guys we re-signed to sign back up, or were you looking for them to get traded for other guys? How about the guys you wanted here, but never made it? How are those guys doing NOW? Joe says, “Look in the mirror and grade your scouting skills. For example, remember all of the love for Chris Wilcox? What is he doing this year? Wasn’t Garrett Siler supposed to be a diamond in the rough… is he even earning a basektball paycheck?  Brandon Bass is MIA in Orlando, would that have happened here?”

And before anybody starts in on Astro Joe, he’s already issued a “my bad” on Jamal Crawford. So let’s get it started. Are you “Fan” enough to admit where you were possibly wrong? Or did you call it right, and want your bragging rights? What about your projected performances of existing players? Did some do better or worse than you’d said or thought they’d do? Let’s here it!

I’ll be the first to admit that I was on the fence about Rasheed Wallace, lightly endorsed Chris Wilcox as an offensive low post option, begged for Brandon Bass, and championed the trade that brought Jamal Crawford. In the end, I was happy to get Joe Smith, and that hasn’t turned out so great. I thought re-signing Zaza was a wonderful thing, but wasn’t too crazy about keeping Mike Bibby around. Both guys have taken a dive in their production. I thought Marvin Williams’ new deal was a bargain. Until recently, it has looked like anything but. That story is far from finished. i hoped for, but can’t say I predicted Josh Smith’s sudden change in the way he plays the game. I did think Al Horford’s offense would look better, and it has. I didn’t think he’d make the all-star team, though.

Am I forgetting anything? Probably. I have enough confessions to make any priest have to put in overtime. If I missed some, I’m sure you’ll be happy to remind me. Heh, heh, heh! Now let’s be nice, guys and gals. This is a confessional, not a dart-throwing competition. However, I’m realistic enough to know that some darts are still going to fly. Let’s just keep the poison off the tips, shall we?

 

HAWKS VS. CLIPPERS

The last time these two teams met, it was in the Highlight Factory. Final score: Hawks 103, Clippers 97. The Clippers big man duo of Chris Kaman and Marcus Camby combined for 30 rebounds as L.A. pounded us on the boards, nullifying a very solid effort by our starting frontline, which featured 10 rebounds each from Horford/Smith/Williams. However, L.A. committed several more fouls and couldn’t overcome the lethal combination of Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford, who combined for 56 points all by themselves.

Fresh off a trade, the Clippers look different, and it expects to show in the post. Gone is Marcus Camby, along with his 12 rebounds and nearly 2 blocks per game, along with his defense. In place of him is Steve Blake, who may or may not see decent playing time behind starter Baron Davis. Also added to the mix is Travis Outlaw, who will compete with a small forward-by-committe that features Rasual Butler and Al Thornton. Did the Clippers get better or worse?

If you ask me, they’re going to have a harder time defending Smith and Horford now, and they weren’t able to do it all that well last time (Smith and Horford got 16 and 10, and 15 and 10 against them, respectively…though Smith was 6 for 15 from the field). Though Clippers shooting guard Eric Gordon can be a pest on defense, he’ll no doubt recall the 34 point torching that Joe Johnson gave him last time, while harassing him into a 6 for 17 effort, himself. My guess? Things won’t go much better for the young guy. Even if they do, what are the odds that Jamal Crawford would have a bad night as well? Double trouble!

Your Thoughts

Will the Hawks be fully focused on the second half of the season? How important is it to win a road game (much less out West) coming off the all-star break, with a few more Western road games right after it? Could this stretch of games set the tone for the remainder of the season? Will Marvin Williams continue his most recently strong and agressive play? Will Josh Smith continue to prove that he should have been/should be next year, an all-star? Should the Hawks really stand pat, here in the 11th hour of the trade deadline?

108 comments Add your comment

JMar

February 17th, 2010
9:36 pm

First! For the first time.

JMar

February 17th, 2010
9:38 pm

I had some concerns that this could be a trap game coming back from break and after how well they played in Atlanta, but with the Clips having dumped Camby and Thornton, this should be a walk in the park.

Hawk Str8Talk

February 17th, 2010
10:02 pm

Well, I was all the way wrong on Jamal Crawford and I’m all the way right about preferring Jack or Sessions to Bibby. I could be right about feeling like we should have tried to trade Marvin, so that we could look at players like Butler, Jamison, etc.

Anyway, see my thoughts on why we REALLY aren’t making trades at http://www.hawkstr8talk.com. All this conjecture about why we shouldn’t make a move is silly, so let’s talk about the real…

O'Brien

February 17th, 2010
10:46 pm

Ray,

Over the offseason, I suggested letting Bibby go and using the mid-level to go after either a) Jarrett Jack (he ended up signing for 4 years, $20 mil) or b) Ramon Sessions (he ended up signing for 4 years, $16 mil).

I’m not sure how those guys would have looked in the Hawks uni, but Bibby is not giving us much right now, and we will be stuck with him older and slower next year.

I was a fan of the Crawford trade, I was a fan of bringing ZaZa back, and I liked the signing of Marvin, but I was skeptical about the life and salary of the contract (especially since Sund bid against himself). I was a fan of getting Brandon Bass, and I loved the Joe Smith signing.

Hawks with 10 points, and all 5 Hawks have scored already. Thats good. And Marvin with a style dunk.

Big Ray

February 17th, 2010
10:47 pm

JMar ,

Congrats!

Hawk Str8talk ,

Your stuff is always interesting to read. I’m checking out that link right now…But what conjecture are you referring to about “why we shouldn’t make a move?” Just curious.

Big Ray

February 17th, 2010
10:51 pm

O’brien ,

The Jamal Crawford move was a strong/bold one. There were going to be fans on opposite ends of the spectrum about that, as always.

I certainly understand your points about…well, our “points.” I agree in a number of ways and while there is a lot to point towards the stability and ball movement that Bibby can bring, none of our crystal balls are working properly. Bibby is clearly in decline, but he still gives some things. You’re right, he won’t be better next year (or the year after) and figures to be worse, if anything.

I wanted Jarret Jack or Sessions as well. Would the chemistry have been negatively affected? Hard to tell.

Big Ray

February 17th, 2010
10:55 pm

Hitting our shots. So are they. They’ve hit one more 3-pointer than we have.

Big Al getting the touches early and scoring against their bigger center at will. Hmmm….

Big Ray

February 17th, 2010
11:05 pm

Woody goes to the bench. Big Al still in the game, in double figures already and showing no signs of slowing down.

Joe Johnson missing shots. Eric Gordon may have come ready to play “D” after all, or is Joe just a little off?

O'Brien

February 17th, 2010
11:18 pm

Its just taking JJ a little time to warm up.

Whats up with Woody’s timeout at the end of the first quarter? Its amazing how often he takes them, with very little success.

This is a good game for the bench to get some burn.

Big Ray

February 17th, 2010
11:29 pm

Every Hawk that’s played has scored. Good times…

Big Ray

February 17th, 2010
11:56 pm

Guards can relax. Others are getting the job done, decent contributions from the bench. Horford is really cruising, and Josh looks like he wants to get a triple double again.

Big Ray

February 17th, 2010
11:58 pm

YOWZA! 17 for Horford at the half, Josh with 12, 5, 6, and 4.

14 point lead on the road, shooting 60% from the field. All that’s left is to mirror the first half and come away with a solid victory.

Big Ray

February 18th, 2010
12:13 am

Joe has quietly warmed up to 50% shooting. The 4th quarter will probably be his, if Woody leaves him in the game.

But the real story is Al Horford, who seems to have brought something back with him from the ASG. Dude is unstoppable, and the Clippers are wishing they still had Camby, so they could at least slow him down. Love to see him get 30 tonight. It’s feasible…

Big Ray

February 18th, 2010
12:16 am

Clippers are staying in the game by still beating us on the boards. Nobody in a Hawks uniform outside of Josh Smith seems all that anxious to grab rebounds. Then again, in a game where both teams are shooting over 50%, there are only so many rebounds to be had.

Big Ray

February 18th, 2010
12:18 am

Usually by now, we stop giving Horford the ball. Keep this up, and he will get 30…or more…

Meanwhile, the crickets in here are telling me to shut up because they can’t hear themselves over my typing…

richbrave

February 18th, 2010
12:19 am

richbrave

February 18th, 2010
12:18 am
WIZ win their first (as a new team) against one of the worst (T-Wolves). JAMISON gone, Z in. GOODEN almost finished his coffee before leaving. Al THORNTON and BRIAN SKINNER along for the ride on D.C. transit.

The blow-up is almost complete. Only the ultimate irony remains – GILBERT ARENAS’ contract is intact. I’m sayin’ he stays and he plays for the next two years until his player option year. The club will be hoping he re-establishes himself as an elite league player so he will have options that don’t need to be exercised in D.C.

BTW, the luxury tax was eliminated according to my calculations by this latest trade. IRENE POLLIN breathes a sigh of releif as the asking price to TED LEONSIS skies.

Oh, and the WIZ get the CAVS first, somewhere between pick # 28 and 32.

MannyT

February 18th, 2010
12:20 am

Ni hao Garret Siler. Confirmation if you read his tweets.

As long as the Hawks are maxing out their luck (few injuries, we can’t beat Mouse Daddy, but they stumble against many others), we actually have a chance at the #2 seed as long as we stop giving lesser teams hope. We need to do a better Shaun White imitation and just take hope away from the pretenders and do what we do!

We need at least 3-1 on his trip. A tall order, but that’s what contenders do, step up.

Are all Wizards season ticket holders on suicide watch tonight? All of their big 3 gone, but they will have cap space if anyone wants to start a rebuilding project…if only they could find Joe Johnson 5 years ago!

@niremetal…don’t get too excited. Larry Coon at Hawks vs Clippers tonight.

…and where is the Olympics blog when I need it. 3 golds for USA today…and Women’s Curling needs help.

BWAF

Big Ray

February 18th, 2010
12:25 am

Jamal doesn’t seem to be himself tonight. Our defense is breaking down a bit. Score shouldn’t be this close.

Big Ray

February 18th, 2010
12:26 am

Manny ,

Word…but I don’t get curling. An Olympic sport? Really? Ehh, never mind.

Big Ray

February 18th, 2010
12:28 am

Richbrave ,

Sorry about your dismantled Wiz. It may be for the best…some day. Don’t know how close or far off that day is.

MannyT

February 18th, 2010
12:29 am

@richbrave…I don’t think there is much worse than having the last pick in the 1st round. One pick later and you avoid all that guarantee money.

Did Gooden’s lawyer serve papers on the Wizards? I figure he spilled the hot coffee on himself when the limo made a quick u-turn to the airport before he actually got into the arena.

I say change the name back to the Bullets and make the team song,href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjHCI4W5D30″>Don’t Bring a Gun to a Snowball Fight (about 1:22 in)

BWAF ;-)

MannyT

February 18th, 2010
12:31 am

That should have been…I say change the name back to the Bullets and make the team song, Don’t Bring a Gun to a Snowball Fight (about 1:22 in)

Clearly, I should not be awake right now…dog gone western road trips :lol:

Big Ray

February 18th, 2010
12:35 am

LOL. I have an excuse. I’m on midnight shift…

Big Ray

February 18th, 2010
12:36 am

Big Al: 31 points.

Josh is beasting, too. 20 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists. Come one, Josh. One more board, 3 more assists. You can do it!

Big Ray

February 18th, 2010
12:37 am

Nice to see Jamal picking up dimes when his shot isn’t falling.

MannyT

February 18th, 2010
12:38 am

@Ray…I’ll have to tell you about it another time, but yes, curling…or Shuffleboard on ice.

Notice that most things are oddly more interesting if you can add …on ice to the end.

Imagine what this would look like…basketball…on ice.

Skateboarding…on ice…actually an Olympic sport, aka snowboarding. Shaun White rocks both on and off ice.

Lacrosse on ice…hockey

I could go on, but really–who cares besides me :oops:

Big Ray

February 18th, 2010
12:40 am

Kaman with a chance to pad his stats with Big Al likely done for the game. 31 points, 6 boards, 4 assists. I’d like to have seen more boards, but I’ll dang sure take the 31 points! :)

MannyT

February 18th, 2010
12:40 am

This is exactly how we needed to start the road trip…with a smackdown.

I hope Al keeps up his all star swagger for the rest of the season.

BWAF

Big Ray

February 18th, 2010
12:42 am

Actually, Manny , that makes sense. Things are definitely differnt… on ice . Which is why I try to avoid doing anything that I’d normally do when it involves me being… on ice . ;)

Big Ray

February 18th, 2010
12:43 am

Right on. Me too. I don’t expect him to drop 30 on every team, or even 20. But I’d settle for 15 or more in a heartbeat, with room to grow. At least he’s taking advantage. And he’s done it against a larger opponent who also made the all-star team (and we can debate Kaman’s nomination all we want, but it is what it is).

MannyT

February 18th, 2010
12:45 am

If the Hawks keep playing like this, MC Blog-a-lot may get to keep that temp seat on the team plane. :lol:

MannyT

February 18th, 2010
12:48 am

Do you think Eric Gordon has figured out that his appliaction for all star Saturday night fell into the wrong pile? He would have been much better off in the 3 pt contest. :twisted:

Big Ray

February 18th, 2010
12:49 am

I figured Josh would be out of the game by now, so no triple double for him, but it’s not a big deal.

Joe didn’t get his usual 20 (or his usual assists/rebounds), but he shot well, no need to complain.

On a night where there was no Baron Davis to contend with, I’d expect more out of Bibby. He wasn’t gawd-awful, but he wasn’t great either. He didn’t turn the ball over and picked up 5 dimes in 23 minutes.

Teague gets to see the court a bit. He hit the only shot he’s taken so far, and has picked up 3 steals. He even got to the free throw line. Shall I laud him for playing decently when given some minutes or just be quiet and wait for the inevitable bashing he’ll receive for “doing what he did in garbage time, against the Clippers?” Decisions, decisions…

Big Ray

February 18th, 2010
12:50 am

Yeah, the kid can shoot it from the arc.

Big Ray

February 18th, 2010
12:51 am

What happened to the Mo Evans who would score 8-12 points in minutes like these?

Big Ray

February 18th, 2010
12:54 am

Geez…sure wouldn’t mind Craig Smith on my bench…

Thanks for the company, MannyT …I’ve still got a long night ahead. See ya next time.

Big Ray

February 18th, 2010
12:55 am

Hawks win in a blowout to start it all off. Gotta love it!

MannyT

February 18th, 2010
12:57 am

Craig Smith makes the same as Mo and his contract is up at the end of this season. Probably not a trade, but we should be able to afford him this summer.

…until next time.

vava74

February 18th, 2010
6:55 am

My comments on one of the blog themes:

I was always against Wilcox (a perennial loser) and Villanueva (a ball hog – you forgot to mention this one Ray).

I was pro-Bibby and pro-Zaza, although I always thought that we should have gone after Sessions. Apparently Zaza’s poor play has a simple explanation since he has been fighting a nagging hip injury.

Nonetheless, on the Bibby situation let us not forget two things:

Both Jack and Sessions are having less than stellar seasons in mid to low level teams, so it impossible to know if they would have fitted our game and led us to our current record. Individual stats don’t mean a great deal, in particular PG’s, since many PG put up great numbers but their teams do not win.

Second: Bibby’s game deteriorated mainly after he injured his ankle. Anyone who has even rolled his ankle knows that you can go on playing for months and months with the ankle still tender and diminishing the mobility and explosiveness.

I liked Joe Smith, but his age is starting to catch up quickly… in particular after his injury.

I am thrilled that we did not land ‘Sheed since he proving to be exactly what I thought he is: a washed up, over himself big who does not play in the low post anymore and just jacks up 3 pointers at a .300 clip.

Siler is exactly what I thought he is: a long shot project. Just by looking at the feed during the open media day it was clear that his fundamental were/are extremely raw, contrary to RandoMo who showed good footwork and fundamentals to go with a better conditioning.

Finally, I had great trust in our organic growth (Al, Josh and Marvin) and predicted from day one a 57 win season. I hope that we don’t fall off track until the end of the season since we are on pace to win 53/54. Only Marvin is disappointing, but I have not lost hope on him yet.

Astro Joe

February 18th, 2010
10:39 am

Ray, I disagree with your assessment (brief as it was) on Teague last night. He constantly allowed Bobby Brown or Ralph Trevant of Johnny Gill or whatever that guy’s name is, to get past him and then Teague would poke at the ball from behind. Yes, it worked for 3-4 steals but how is that playing defense? Any bad AAU coach would tell him to move his feet instead of poking at the ball from behind. Can you imagine what will happen if he tries that Friday against Nash (or later against Deron)? Why isn’t a guy with that type of quicks moving his feet laterally to defend the opposing guard? At first, I thought “good recovery” but then he did it like 4-5 more times, as if that was his defensive strategy. UGH! That may be acceptable if you are physically limited from sliding your feet quickly but that is not the case with Teague. Very, very poor technique that would ultimately leave his bigs vulnerable to foul trouble. And certainly something that he needs to correct before he gets more playing time. Matador defense is not a viable strategy.

richbrave

February 18th, 2010
10:51 am

Big Ray

February 18th, 2010
12:28 am
Richbrave ,

Sorry about your dismantled Wiz. It may be for the best…some day. Don’t know how close or far off that day is.

With the health issues I’ve got big guy, it’s probably not on my horizon, maybe my grandson’s though. BTW, BRYAN SKINNER fell off the plane from L.A. Probably refused to leave the airport. Wiz got rights to some european from last year’s CLIPS second pick.

richbrave

February 18th, 2010
10:57 am

MANNY T:

“Are all Wizards season ticket holders on suicide watch tonight? All of their big 3 gone, but they will have cap space if anyone wants to start a rebuilding project……………….”

Au contraire, mes amis, ARENAS lives to haunt the franchise for years to come. Think the HAWKS want him. No more BIBBY. Let’s play GM. I’ll trade you ARENAS and 25% of his salary for the next two years for TEAGUE and your first right now. What do you say?

phar71

February 18th, 2010
11:31 am

If Drew Gooden’s contract is bought out, I think he should be a target. He would look good as the 8th man off the bench….

vava74

February 18th, 2010
11:45 am

Astro,

I did not catch the game but I obviously accept your assessment of Teague’s defense, however, we have already seen him do precisely the opposite.

There was even a situation in which Woody got Teague back into the game for the last possession against the Bulls and he was pretty effective staying in front of Rose.

Teague’s main problem is that he is young and without the game on the line, tends to be careless and relax too much.

He does that also with his passing, missing a lot of deliveries over defenders because he telegraphs the pass and executes too slow.

He’s young. That’s it.

Astro Joe

February 18th, 2010
11:58 am

phar71, no doubt. Although Zaza looked better last night than he has this season, I’d still love to see Gooden added.

Astro Joe

February 18th, 2010
12:06 pm

Vava, agreed. By no means am I suggesting that he is incapable of improving, as much as I was providing a snapshot assessment. I’m as intrigued as the next guy about Teague’s abilities and in understanding if “he is ready”. Last night, he made some pretty glaring defensive mistakes. To your point, maybe he didn’t take Bobby Brown as seriously as he would Derrick Rose (or Nash). Of course, that is no way to instill confidence in either your teammates or coach. Heaven knows, this would not be the first time Hawks fans have had to be patient with guys who need to mature above their shoulders before they can utilize their vast talents below their shoulders.

Astro Joe

February 18th, 2010
12:18 pm

Check out this quality interview. Go down to the section that says “Brandon and Woolvey” and listen to today’s interview with Ian Thomsen (SI.com NBA columnist). He has an interesting take on the Hawks relative to the Cavs. Definitely worth checking out.

http://www.790thezone.com/instantreplay/

vava74

February 18th, 2010
12:33 pm

Astro,

A fun fact which you may remember: when we played in ATL against the Hornets, Bobby Brown, then with NO, completely burned JT0 to the ground when they were together on court.

I am really convinced that it’s lack of maturity rather than lack of defensive skill/ability to stay in front of his man.

Astro Joe

February 18th, 2010
1:03 pm

Vava, good call…. I didn’t realize that he had burned Teague previously. Hey, everyone gets to have a bad match-up. Julius couldn’t do much with Marques Johnson and Jordan often got abused by Mitch Richmond. So if Teague gives it up to Bobby Brown, we’ll have to live with that.

vava74

February 18th, 2010
1:16 pm

Astro,

This is the game:

http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/boxscore;_ylt=AgTrrDryGQHToRs7e1adk9yQvLYF?gid=2009111401

There is some difference in play time but BBrown was 5-7 from within the 3 pt line and mostly by getting into the paint at will against JT0.