Hawks lose, but who let the (inner) dogs out?

The Atlanta Hawks weren’t able to get revenge on the rival Celtics, but at least it wasn’t a bewildering blowout like before. Winning the battle on the glass was not enough to overcome 18 turnovers and the fact that the Celtics had 28 assists, whereas the Hawks only had 16. Suffice it to say that Larry Drew’s offensive sets were hardly executed to any consistent effect.

While the Hawks predictably struggled against another good team without star guard Joe Johnson, there were other factors that affected this game every bit as much, and could continue to do so in upcoming games.

 

Running with the Big Dogs

- Marvin Williams. The much maligned Atlanta forward had arguably his best performance of the year on offense, scoring a team high 26 points and looking good from everywhere on the floor. What was different? Marvin didn’t hesitate and looked to be on the attack nearly every time he got the ball, whether it was slashing to the basket, hitting jumpers with a defender in his face, or spotting up from behind the arc. In short, Marvin looked like he knew the team needed his scoring, and was eager to provide it. With Atlanta’s current top two scoring options all but non-existent, Williams was the difference between a loss and an outright blowout. History says we won’t see a game like this from him again for many moons, but it’s always nice to see when it does happen. Can Marvin give us a few more good games while Joe is out (or whenever needed), or will he go back to being the daily whipping boy?

- Damien Wilkins. The man’s defensive verve cannot be underestimated or underappreciated. But Wilkins doesn’t just bring defense (though we love to see how he does it on the perimeter, and all the way to the basket), he also has some decent offensive moves, and the Hawks would do well to go to him a little more often. There’s no “inner dog” with Damien. He brings it every time, and does so without fail. It would be a pity if the Hawks didn’t find a way to hang onto him, as using him in some way to acquire or make room for another much needed and useable talent, would be the only consolation for losing him.

- Jeff Teague. This might be the best game Jeff Teague has ever played for the Hawks. Maybe his ankle simply feels better now (as was suggested by one or two of the TNT commentators last night), or maybe it’s something else. Maybe it’s because Jamal Crawford wasn’t out there. The only other credible caveat would be the absence of Rajon Rondo. But if you don’t want to make excuses for Teague’s dazzling performance, then just settle for this: the second year point guard hasn’t shown this level of aggression and predatory instinct since his days at Wake Forest. Few things beat the sight of Avery Bradley totally getting lost and Paul Pierce leaning back (and out of the way) as Teague dunked it harder than any Hawk not named Josh Smith, has in a while. Whatever the reason for Teague’s level of aggression last night, somebody needs to bottle it and pour it on him for each game. Check that, enough of the external factors and jokes about them. Whatever got Teague going should have (and probably did) come from the inside. It’s up to him to bring that fire, speed, and penetration from night to night. Can he/will he do it?

 

All Dogged Out

- Josh Smith. Some of Josh’s deplorable outing can be attributed to Boston’s defensive scheme, but I’ll give it 30% at best. Most of this was Josh’s mental and emotional state….again. Instead of trying to establish himself inside early on not trying to get his offense going from the perimeter, Josh did the opposite and fell flat on his face. The explosive forward was a fizzling dud from every area of the floor, and while a few calls didn’t go his way, that was no excuse. Where was his newfound ability to find his way to the free throw line? Smith also was very little help on the boards and spent more time succumbing to the one thing that seems to be his self-derived kryptonite these days: despondency. No one can really stop Josh, except Josh. Wants he gets in a funky mood, he has the worst time getting out of it, and his play hurts the team. That’s the trick with Josh, you see. He can’t NOT affect a game. No middle road. The question is whether he’s affecting it negatively or positively.

- Al Horford. The All-star PF/C still shot above 50% from the field, but 4 of 7 shooting with no trips to the free throw line isn’t going to wow anybody. Horford’s 7 rebounds led the team, which is a sad commentary in and of itself. His beautiful midrange jumper looked good, but Al often either hesitated, or passed it off. It seemed like his one attempt to go directly at Kevin Garnett was a deciding moment for him. After not getting what looked like it should have been a sure foul call, Horford failed to respond to much of anything for the remainder of the game, and there were a number of times that Mike Bibby tried to set him up for scores. Whatever happened to the warrior in this guy? Am I off base for calling him out?

Doggin’ it the best they can

A shout out goes to Zaza Pachulia, Mike Bibby, and Josh Powell for their efforts last night. Bibby continues to play like  a man renewed, and I truly believe he should have been named a team captain. His team high 8 assists (exactly half the team total) was an example of his effort to get teammates invovled, even as he continues to score decently, including leading the league in 3 point percentage.

Powell and Pachulia were solid off the bench, both providing some points and rebounds in pivotal minutes. You have to hand it to Zaza on that fake he put on Big Baby Davis. And did he sell that flagrant foul or what? For what it’s worth, Davis did hold onto him too long (especially around the head/neck area), I thought….

It was nice to see Jordan Crawford get some minutes, though clearly the rookie was rather jittery. Normally, his passing is more crisp, but there’s no denying his mindset when he gets the ball in his hands. The kid is a shooter/scorer predator type. No doubt about it.

Charles Barkley continues to rant (though shortly) about Mike Woodson’s lack of employment and the TNT commentary crew think Teague must be played more. I say he has to earn it and these guys haven’t been watching him play enough to say that.

What do YOU think?

136 comments Add your comment

Trig

December 17th, 2010
8:06 am

I agree with the Teague part..every time I see him play he looks productive, and the only person to really take time away from is Bibby. The Mike Woodson thing? Maybe. At least the Hawks seemed more consistent with him as coach, and this is from a guy who wanted Woodson gone from years.

Also, after last nights game, I’m ready to trade JSmoove. Lot of talent there, but Im exasperated with his inconsistency.

[...] News Sources wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [...]

wordsmithtom

December 17th, 2010
8:31 am

Big Ray….
3rd quarter was the tell: Marvin & Bibbs hit 3’s to get Hawks even followed by Josh and Al missing 3 footers. What should have been a run turned into confidence building pushbacks by Celts. The game was lost in the 3rd quarter, not the 4th…..

JS has the talent to be another Barkley, if he can ever get control of his mental state. Sometimes, I wonder. Horf is a very good player. But, he’ll never be a great player like Duncan, who he reminds me more than the classic center, unless he gets more mentally tough.Ultimately, I’m concerned we don’t improve with both guys going forward.

It’s a tough one…..Obviously, MW CAN play….why doesn’t he do it more often? I suggest it’s what he thinks his role is. If we traded Horf for a true C and moved MW to 4, this team could be a force. All that’s conjecture, mind you. Also, keeping JS at 4 and MW at 3 could also work, if coach can get it through JS’s head to do what he is supposed to do. Iffy….

wordsmithtom

December 17th, 2010
8:33 am

But, as constructed, this team goes no further than the 1’st round of playoffs. Not bad….just NOT elite.

wordsmithtom

December 17th, 2010
8:35 am

Oh, and yes, MW could bring that C keeping JS and Horf. That too could work. But, as a three position player, I’d rather keep MW and move one of the other two. MW proved the value of being a 3 position player, and a number of GM’s, especially on the west coast, would LOVE to have him at current contract costs.

[...] News Sources wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [...]

Rudy

December 17th, 2010
8:49 am

Teague look great lastnight but i can see why he dont get much playing time, he made some crucial turnovers at the most important part of the game. they seemed like they were all back to back.

drmaryb (*_*)

December 17th, 2010
8:58 am

The Sum!

The whole is NOT greater than the Sum of it’s parts.

[...] webmaster@technorati.com wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [...]

[...] News Sources wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [...]

doc

December 17th, 2010
9:14 am

who will be the first to ask; “i wonder if it is marvin’s knee?”, when he disappears again.

[...] News Sources wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [...]

drmaryb (*_*)

December 17th, 2010
9:21 am

doc

I hope it won’t be the “Bees Knees” story line.
Maybe, someone will reach deeper into the BS-bin and say, “He hurt his back two seasons ago, and hasn’t been the same since.”

Either way, there is no excuse to not bring your “A” Game every night.

[...] webmaster@technorati.com wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [...]

Mike is back

December 17th, 2010
9:33 am

Big Ray, Great commentary on the game…I especially like your insight on Josh…I notice the same thing…he is a lot closer to putting everything together…than a lot of people think…dude is still going to have his days.

I also agree on Teague…he needs to earn it.

Man, the way U and MC are flowing now days…all a brotha got to do is read…no need to be a part of that group that make the same repetitive comments.lol

Astro Joe

December 17th, 2010
9:33 am

A chance to play without any iso-ball hogs and the team looked “scrappy” but never really like they belonged. Oh well, they play again tonight.

Marvin won’t have so many shot attempts next time, when Jamal is back or when Josh and Al are in rhythm. I haven’t seen many (if any) games that were lost because Marvin didn’t attempt 12+ FGAs. Better rebounding, better defense, knocking down jumpers on kick-out passes… absolutely. But I can’t find another team’s 5/6 option who is averaging 14 a game.

I think Teague could easily score 8-12 points if he were the “lead guard” off the bench and played with guys like Evans or Wilkins in the backcourt. He’ll make bad turnovers, but that is to be expected. Bad turnovers when you’re struggling to run the team as a pure PG is much more damaging (IMO), than when you’re in a George Hill/Lou Williams role.

Our captains need to have a strong game tonight… they barely broke a sweat yesterday so they should be ready and willing to go.

niremetal

December 17th, 2010
9:34 am

Doc,

From the last blog – ain’t much to tell. It’s a red 2010 Corolla S. I was surprised how roomy it was. The clincher was that it was snowing up here yesterday, and the car handled really well through the ice and snow. I haven’t had a car for the past 2 years and had a rickety 1989 volvo 760 wagon (with 189k miles) before that, so I don’t even notice the supposedly bad noise and ride quality :lol: .

Astro Joe

December 17th, 2010
9:35 am

Big Ray, I also like your Teague “needs to earn it” comment. Gee, it sounds eerily familiar to something that someone was saying last year. :roll:

Astro Joe

December 17th, 2010
9:41 am

OB, from last night, I’m worried about this Uggla signing. I wish we would have waited to see how he does on a team that has a different set of expecatations. I guess I’m still smarting from watching small market stars like Dan Kolb and Nate McLouth come to the Braves and look like a deer in headlights. I’m also concerned about our up-the-middle defense between A-Gon and Uggla (and McLouth in CF). But hey, we’re only playinng for a wild card… the Phillies took care of that earlier this week.

Astro Joe

December 17th, 2010
9:46 am

Add the Rockets to the list of teams that may be holding a January/February yard sale. Sad news about Yao.

http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Yao-Ming-s-career-could-be-over?urn=nba-297005

steve brown

December 17th, 2010
10:25 am

Josh Smith is Josh Smith-lots of great moments-lots of crazy. Steve Kerr in an interview yesterday said the Hawks will probably need to gamble on a trade in order to get to the next level. Kerr would explore trading Smith as the Hawks should be able to get the most for him. I couldn’t agree more.

steve brown

December 17th, 2010
10:26 am

Maybe there is life in Teague after all!

JM

December 17th, 2010
10:34 am

Big Ray, you’re on point once again. There will be days like this. If they had won it would have been a steal, so they just need to move on. LD, though, should develop a plan to puncture Boston’s D, because it still gives the offense fits. Teague showed that when his head is there, he can contribute. There are a number of players who have mental blocks on their game from time to time, Smoove being number one. LD needs to find a way to talk it out of them, kinda like what a pitcher needs after throwing a homerun, gotta be able to shake it off.

slimjr

December 17th, 2010
10:40 am

JOSH SMITH COULD NOT HOLD BARKLEYS JOCK!!! And will never be able to. Josh offensive skills are that of high school level…..Sorry to bust your bubble…

niremetal

December 17th, 2010
10:51 am

I would be interested in Battier from Houston, but his contract is expiring so I doubt he’ll be part of any firesale. The first guy on the block for them if they do decide to rebuild will be Kevin Martin, and I want no part of him.

lukas

December 17th, 2010
11:35 am

Big Ray,
“In short, the Hawks need Horford to be “The Boss” a little more, down in the pivot”.
“Whatever happened to the warrior in this guy? Am I off base for calling him out?”

On your last excellent 2 post, these 2 lines standout for me. Are you off base by calling him out? NO you aren’t because, indeed, the guy is getting softer by the minute. There’s a huge difference between the rookie Al Horford that flexed his biceps on strong plays and taunted Paul Pierce and this “offensive” Al Horford that scores a lot but does not box out, does not bang inside and is more focussed on getting minutes at the PF than playing were his team needs him to. I want him to be Karl Malone, but instead i’m getting Chris Bosh.

Astro Joe

December 17th, 2010
11:38 am

I want him to be Karl Malone, but instead I’m getting Chris Bosh.

OUCH!

Astro Joe

December 17th, 2010
11:48 am

My dream that Horford would become Duncan-light have been close to destroyed. A fundamentally sound BIG who doesn’t worry about position titles, just a guy who anchors his team’s offense and defense and gets it done regardless of the size or skill of the opposing big.

Sund needs to find a center to match with this new version of Al, the “natural PF”.

Fundamentals

December 17th, 2010
12:10 pm

Amen Ray – great job!!!

sam'l

December 17th, 2010
1:02 pm

Teague played very well, but when he had a chance to help the Hawks win, Had Teague kept his head the Hawks could have won that game. Josh Smith was unbelievably bad.

Right after the last Boston games, coach Drew said something about he didn’t know what happened the night before games as a clue to his team’s readiness. How better to explain this group’s erratic play over the years? Sex, drugs or alcohol? .

Miles D

December 17th, 2010
1:51 pm

AGAIN!! SEVEN YEARS IN THE LEAGUE AND STILL NO POST GAME!! I’M TELLING YOU JOSH’S LACK OF PROFESSIONALISM AND ATTITUDE IS AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE THE REASON WE DON’T OR WON’T GET OVER THE HUMP!! HE THINKS BEING A LEADER IS TELLING EVERYONE ELSE WHAT TO DO INSTEAD OF DOING THE “LITTLE THINGS” THAT TURN OUT TO BE “BIG THINGS” HIMSELF FOR HIS TEAM TO WIN!! HE IS A CANCER!! SORRY… BUT THATS THE ONLY WAY TO PUT IT NOW!! AL IS PLAYING OUT OF POSITION BUT SHOWS THE WILL TO DO WHATEVER TO GET THE JOB DONE AND JOSH DOESN’T!! FOR THE VERY REASON JUST MENTIONED, WILL BE WHY AL WILL GET VOTED TO THE ALL-STAR GAME, BY COACHES AND GM’S, AGAIN OVER JOSH FOR THE SECOND TIME IN HIS FOUR PRO SEASONS AND JOSH WON’T MAKE IT IN HIS SEVENTH!! EAT THAT WITH YOUR HASHBROWNS!!! TIME TO FED-EX “SMOOVE”!!! HIS CRYING TO THE REFS MAKE IT HARD FOR THE REST OF OUR TEAM TO GET CALLS!! AND HE STILL MAKING EXCUSES SEVEN YEARS INTO THIS THING!!! TIME TO KICK HIS A** OUT OF THE NEST!!! LET’S GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2 FOR JOHN DREW

December 17th, 2010
1:58 pm

Big Ray,
I don’t know if awesome is ur first, middle, or last last name.
But please note ……. what you do is …. APPRECIATED !

Big Ray

December 17th, 2010
2:55 pm

2 FOR JOHN DREW ,

Man, I’m just trying to lay it down for y’all, AS one of y’all. Thanks for the kudos!

doc

December 17th, 2010
3:07 pm

ROFL at DMB, yeah baby it is known as going to the “phantom file for the phantom man”, when you talk about marvin.

cool nire, got to be a pleasure for you. safe travels. speaking of traveling, you never did say much about your flight to the big A or was it that bad? ;-) bet the wheels might roll a bit this way if you dont like flying that much.

doc

December 17th, 2010
3:11 pm

got to get big ray straight here, you suck at this man.

good, now i feel better got some reality going. ;-)

man guys, he already has a big head, its going to swole to barry size if i dont intervene as the doc around here.

going to be at the game tonight with oldest daughter. nice.

chuckw/deadjournalist

December 17th, 2010
3:19 pm

As much as any team I’ve watched, this team can have their confidence jacked-up or ripped-out around a play or two. I hate watching Paul Pierce – I don’t like the dude – but I’d want him on my team. He moans and complains, but he never lets it shake is confidence.

Night-in and night-out, you just don’t know which Hawks players are going to be flying high or laying low. Last night, Marvin, Teague and ZaZa were playing like they knew they belonged. Smoove and Al looked totally out of it. Tonight, it may be 180-degree flip.

Which brings me to Wilkins. His play is steady. And when JJ returns, I’d rather have him as the back-up option that Mo Evans (who is the lost and forgotten rotational wing). Evans has looked horrible. Is it rust from the injuries or is his confidence shot, too?

I’m going to get on my soap box again that what this team needs are more leaders – i.e. Battier. Wilkins is helping the second unit a great deal because he’s all effort, almost all the time. But the starting line-up needs that as well. While JJ’s game is consistent (for the most part), he’s not the vocal on the floor leader.

It always helps to have guys who know what it takes to win on your team. Although the announcers were horrible last night, they did make a good point on Josh Powell understanding the patience needed on the court – something the TNT crew attributed to the Lakers.

We all give credit to Al for this college pedigree, but Bibby is the only big-minute player to get as far as the conference finals. The team needs a big-minute player to help the younger players the steps it takes to refrain from the mental lapses that take them out of their game.

chuckw/deadjournalist

December 17th, 2010
3:21 pm

And I still thing the team would be better with Marvin coming off the bench. If he’d except his role, he might thrive against better match-ups and by also being the primary of secondary scoring option of the second unit.

Astro Joe

December 17th, 2010
3:51 pm

niremetal, any chance Portland trades Oden? No way they would offer him an $8M QO, but they could at least get value back in a S&T for him. I was thinking with Roy having all of those issues, that a trade of Jamal + Zaza for Pryzbilla & Oden would at least get them a dynamic scorer while Roy deals with his issues and Zaza can back-up Camby. We would get an upgrade on Collins (also 2 expiring contracts) and save a little money next season. A bench of Collins, Powell, Marvin, Wilkins and Teague would at least be much better defensively while allowing Teague a little more offensive freedom (and Marvin also). Pryz can be the 18 minute/game starter to make Al happy (and provide some more rugged rebounding/shot-blocking than Collins). But my guess is that Portland views Oden as too big of a trading chip in the summer to make that deal.

niremetal

December 17th, 2010
4:21 pm

Doc,

Actually, my flight from Philly to Atlanta had to make an emergency landing back in Philly because we hit some birds on our ascent. We turned out ok, and I flew out safely the next day. Actually, I feel a lot better about flying now – I figure fate has already sent me my allotment of harrowing flight experiences for my lifetime :grin:

niremetal

December 17th, 2010
4:23 pm

Astro,

I actually think the Blazers will end up keeping Oden past this summer. I think they’ll make him the QO and Oden will end up staying with them for a bit above the mid-level. If we blew the Blazers away with an offer (ie if we offered Josh, Joe, or Al), they might bite, but I don’t think they’ll part with him just for an expiring and a solid backup C.

Astro Joe

December 17th, 2010
4:45 pm

Wow! Offering him $8M with that injury history? And Roy on the books for something around $50M with his injury history? And another $11M on Camby (although he has been mostly healthy of late). If you keep buying known lemons, can you really complain when your car breaks down? OK, bad analogy for a recent car purchaser. If you keep buying Colby electronic equipment, can you really complain when you can’t get any sound out of the speaker?

niremetal

December 17th, 2010
5:31 pm

Astro,

Roy’s contract is sunk costs that they’ll have to pay regardless of whether they keep Oden, and Camby is old and only there for two years. Camby was basically a rental supposed to last them until Oden got back on his feet. Oden is a #1 pick and unless there’s some discernible connection between his injuries (and from everything I’ve heard, there isn’t), they likely are not going to throw him away easily. They will hope that he turns out to be another Ilgauskas rather than another Bowie. They aren’t going to write off Oden’s career as easily as many fans outside Portland are writing it off.

niremetal

December 17th, 2010
5:36 pm

It should also be said, obviously, that big men get overpaid in the NBA at any rate. The fact that we were able to get even a halfway decent backup center for under the mid-level was unusual. A 23 year old 7-footer who was averaging 11 and 8.5 when he last was on an NBA floor? Injuries or no, it would be unprecedented for a team to let such a player go without getting something good in return, much less refuse to extend the QO and let him walk altogether.

tbhawksfan

December 17th, 2010
5:50 pm

Some players complain to gain an edge with the refs. It’s psychology and can affect the refs if you do it right. Smith gets carried away and just whines which probably only has a negative effect, on him and the refs. it’s about respect. If you can complain without showing them out, you get their respect. If you whine little league, there is no respect.

tbhawksfan

December 17th, 2010
6:25 pm

Poor birds. We’re they Hawks…

tbhawksfan

December 17th, 2010
6:26 pm

“were” they Hawks

Sautee

December 17th, 2010
6:48 pm

WOW! MC just tweeted that Joe Johnson will start tonight.

That’s a quick healer.

Blast

December 17th, 2010
6:54 pm

Big Ray.

Nice work as usual. Keep it up.

niremetal

December 17th, 2010
7:46 pm

Doc,

Correct me if I’m wrong on this, because I’m going based on what I remember my docs telling me when I got an arthoscopy last year.

JJ was getting loose cartilage removed, based on what I’ve read. Thus, there was no underlying structural injury to repair. In a situation like that, when there are no internal sutures or tears that need to heal, the only obstacles to his return are:

1) The healing of the incision sites. This usually takes ~ 1 week.
2) Swelling from the procedure. With an arthroscopy, this heals pretty quickly because you’re not sewing anything up inside the body and it’s a minimally invasive procedure – you just have to wait for the area where the scope went in to heal. When I had mine done, they actually told me to start doing moving the joint around again to avoid the risk of tough scar tissue build-up. You could conceivably prolong the swelling by overdoing it too quickly, but a trainer or doctor can detect swelling easily. Even if you play through it, there’s no real risk of exacerbating it because, again, we’re not talking about a structural injury. So if Joe starts playing tonight and some pain creeps back, he can rest another couple days and try again, but he can’t “re-injure” himself because there’s nothing left to re-injure.

Am I roughly right?

niremetal

December 17th, 2010
7:46 pm

Drmaryb, you can confirm too if you’re around – didn’t mean to leave you out ;)