Six in a row

Greetings, all-

Hope you got to enjoy Friday night’s game. Wow. That stretch in the third quarter, I think it was one of those times where you didn’t really have to be a Hawks fan to appreciate what was going on. You just had to be a fan of the game, period. It was just five guys losing themselves in the flow of the game, totally committed and executing at a near flawless rate.

This is probably a stretch, and please don’t take this to mean I’m saying the Hawks are as good as the Michael Jordan Bulls, but I grew up watching that team and, particularly when they had Horace Grant and Scottie Pippen teamed up with Jordan – I remember assistant coach Johnny Bach called them Doberman pinschers – that team could turn it on defensively like nothing else.

The Hawks looked something like that against Utah in the third quarter. Josh Smith was unreal rebounding, blocking and altering shots and even that behind-the-back bounce pass to Al Horford on the break. Passes got deflected, Jazz cutters were covered, Joe Johnson swallowed up Deron Williams. That Ray Lewis comparison that Jamal Crawford made with Smith looks a little less lopsided today than Friday.

The crazy thing is how it followed a pretty rancid first half. If you remember, Horford tried to start a break by throwing the ball backwards over his head. Mike Bibby’s layup. A couple wild outlet passes by Smith. Typically level-headed Mo Evans turning to yell at a ref while the ball was still in play.

Watching all this, it certainly seemed like the Hawks were off their game and were headed to a loss, just because no team can keep up the kind of mojo they’ve been having (to wit: Boston against Philly. Did you know the Celtics are 3-4 on Fridays, including the Hawks’ win over them last month? They’re 17-1 the other six days of the week. Strange.)

But, heavens, what a turnaround. You’d have to think the Hawks will win again tonight. I’d hardly call it a sure thing, though, and I wouldn’t be too surprised if they lost. It seems to happen enough in the NBA. But it makes me wonder how long they can keep playing like this and what it’ll take to stop them. Denver looms large, obviously – second game of a back to back at altitude, for whatever that’s worth. And then Cleveland, certainly.

But, anyway, I am on the flight to Chicago and am going to have to shut down the laptop pretty soon. So, some links, and I think that’ll do it.

Enjoy the game tonight.

The Salt Lake Tribune’s take.

“I think more than anything their length just hurt us,” Deron Williams said. “They switched everything. We didn’t really have an answer for that. We didn’t have a game plan against that. They played great basketball tonight.”

The Jazz lost the third quarter 37-17, giving up a 16-0 run in which they were held scoreless for 5:13 and suffered a complete meltdown.

From Jazz beat writer Ross Siler’s blog:

The funniest thing in there is that Deron Williams left about 40 tickets for the University of Illinois basketball team (where Williams played) because they’re in Atlanta playing Georgia at Gwinnett Arena, I think. Because of traffic delays, the team got there in the third quarter. Bummer.

Carlos Boozer quotes:

“They’re one of the fastest teams in the league at every position and they exploited that tonight. They played fast with layups and dunks and transition. They just kicked our butts in general.”

“It’s almost like we played right into their hands. Whatever their scheme was worked.”

The Chicago Tribune’s Bulls page.

The nuttiest stat I’ve seen today, from espn.com’s Daily Dime courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau.

The irrepressible Elias Sports Bureau might have outdone itself with this one involving Shaquille O’Neal and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Cleveland’s two centers produced near-identical lines in the box score in Tuesday’s win over New Jersey: Both scored 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting with five rebounds and three blocked shots. How hard is it to produce a line with those specifics? Elias says that players have recorded more than 750,000 box-score lines since the NBA began keeping track of blocks in 1973 … and only two other players in all that time went for 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting with five boards and three swats: Cavs swingman Jamario Moon in April 2008 (with Toronto), and Portland’s Greg Oden earlier this season.

A page I’ve now bookmarked, because Elias Sports Bureau does a great job of digging up stuff like this – plus stuff that has more meaning, is Elias Says.

319 comments Add your comment

dap01

December 19th, 2009
12:31 pm

Ken, great blog.

The Hawks have an opportunity for something special.

Craig

December 19th, 2009
1:01 pm

I got a big group of folks going to the Hawks/Cavs game coming up, and we are calling for the RED OUT. I repeat, RED OUT Phillips Arena.

ncat96

December 19th, 2009
1:08 pm

The hard work that Coach Woodson has put into these Hawks over the years is really coming together this season. He has shown steady progression and development of this team since his first year. I just don’t understand why he has not gotten a contract extension by now. How foolish can the management be regarding this.

BILLY KNIGHT

December 19th, 2009
1:35 pm

GREAT GAME MY BIGGEST ISSUE WHY ARE THE ORGANIZATION DOING MORE 2 GET THE PEOPLE 2 THE GAMES, MAYBE THEY SHOULD HAVE MORE FAMILY DISCOUNT OR BUY A TICKET AND GET THE 2ND HALF PRICE.

ILL-logical

December 19th, 2009
1:43 pm

Keep an eye on UT’s Dexter Pittman today as the clash with Carolina. He has come along way from his 400 lbs days and could be a better version of Kendrick Perkins, another Texas high school phenom.

rms

December 19th, 2009
1:43 pm

Hey Craig, if you get the AJC and the sporttalk radio to jump on board for the that to let more fans know about the RED OUT then maybe it could happen! Good idea. Didnt know we were playing the Cavs back to back! It would be nice if we could sweep them but a huge bummer if we got swept.

MannyT

December 19th, 2009
2:11 pm

Why would we have a red out when the Cavs main road color is red?

I’ll pass on the red for that game.

KenS, is Dec 19th the official slow news day in the NBA? That seems like a stretch for news…even for the Daily Dime.

Next, they will promote Z & Shaq as the heaviest guys to ever have that stat line.

Gotta keep the good roll going in Chicago tonight.

BWAF

Grandad

December 19th, 2009
2:19 pm

From the previous blog:
Merry Christmas to Doc and KevinA
No offense taken.
I know less about Econ. than I do Basketball.
I do prefer Marvin over Childress in that Marv is a Hawk. J.Childress
is not. This is a super TEAM and Marv is an integral member of OUR team.
Enjoy! Happy Holidays All!

RLP

December 19th, 2009
2:45 pm

Regarding the discussion from the previous blog concerning Jerry Sloan:

I agree that Jerry Sloan gave up on the game during the third quarter blitz. But he did not give up on coaching. From the point that the Hawks were up by thirty and the starters were pulled to the point that the game ended the Jazz reduced the lead by 17 points. I agree that Sloan gave up on the game but I think he did not give up on coaching his players. I was disappointed with the play of the Hawks second team during that stretch. That stretch could have been a teaching moment for the second team.

I also think Sloan is a really good coach. But for some on this blog he would not qualify for that designation because he has never won a championship although he did have two teams to reach the finals.

RLP

December 19th, 2009
3:04 pm

Here comes the hard part of the ten game predictions game. I think all of the first five of the games won during Ken S.’s ten game prediction schedule were fairly easy to predict. All were against teams the Hawks should defeat based on the fact that four of the five games were at home against teams with losing road records on the road and the one away game was against a team we has just defeated by 31 points a few days earlier.

But now the Hawks are going on the road. Until this year their road record has been miserable over the last few years. As the year began the road record was the biggest impediment to the team showing improvement. On this trip the team will be facing a team with a 12-1 record at home, another team that is 7-5 at home, a third that is 6-6 at home and finally one game which should be an easy win since that team is only 3-11 at home. But road games are never easy in the NBA. And then the game most of us on the blog have pointed to as some kind of definitive moment for the team – the home and away series with Cleveland.

When I made my predictions I predicted a loss tonight. If I were to be making my prediction now I would move that game into a prediction of a win for the Hawks. The Bulls have been struggling lately and are only 3-7 in their last 10 games.They have issues that I did not foresee at the time.

I would love to see the team reel off a road win stretch. Their confidence level is high and I think they can win the next two. But Denver will really be tough. Every team will have nights where things just do not go right. Let us hope that the current win streak will help give the Hawks the confidence level to fight through road adversity and up their won loss record on the road during these next four games.

Ken Sugiura

December 19th, 2009
3:28 pm

MannyT – Elias Sports Bureau is the official record keeper for the four major pro leagues and mls and wnba. i think part of their job is coming up with random stuff like that.
thanks, Dap

tjhook

December 19th, 2009
3:50 pm

Enjoyed the Hawks’ intensity and teamwork last night. Marvin was even playing aggressive. Ken, could you talk to Coach Woodson about any consideration to moving Maurice Evans into the starting lineup since the team plays with a little more urgency when he is on the court. The slow starts can be killers when we match up with the elite teams. Also, if putting Marvin on the bench to come on with Crawford would be beneficial or detrimental to his growth. I personally believe he could learn a lot by watching the game and his opponents before joining the action. He’s never really taken a big-picture approach to the game (although he is a conscientious guy).

Melvin

December 19th, 2009
3:55 pm

From the previous blog:

Melvin

December 19th, 2009
2:56 pm
For all the hype about UNC big men, this big guy for Texas (Pitman, 6-10/11 290) is dominanting them all… Too bad he can’t play more than a 5 mins stretch or he would be a top 5 pick in next year draft…. Hmmm, he may not be a bad late 1st round pick….

O'Brien

December 19th, 2009
4:02 pm

ILL-logical,

Melvin mentioned him on the other blog too. If he can get in better shape, it will be interesting to see how he improves during the year.

The thing I like about Jerry Sloan, is regardless of the players on the team, you have a pretty good idea what to expect. They will be physical, they will hustle, and they will execute his offense (most of the times).

But last night, they had no answer for the Hawks. And that was awesome.

Samuel, Woody has shown that the Hawks can win/dominate some good teams (at times). But in the playoffs, he is still an unproven commodity, and his record is 7-10. I think the performance of the Hawks in the playoffs will determine the length of his new contract.

As for the game tonight, the starters are rested, and I expect to see Al have a good game against Noah. Lets keep it going Hawks.

RLP

December 19th, 2009
4:07 pm

Ken S:

Many have commented on the job you have done on this site. I would like to add my comments thanking you for providing us with an interim writer. I found you professional and loved your creativity in trying some new things to get us involved in discussions different from the same old tired repetitions that we fall into during slack periods between games. Thank you.

For you bloggers:

Check out the link Ken gave us to the Salt Lake Tribune and the fans blog that can be found on the site. Swap a couple of players names and the coaches names and it would read like this blog does at times. The only difference is that our team is soaring right now and their perception of their team is not as kind as what we find here. Thanks for the link Ken.

Samuel

December 19th, 2009
4:22 pm

“I think more than anything their length just hurt us,” Deron Williams said. “They switched everything. We didn’t really have an answer for that. We didn’t have a game plan against that. They played great basketball tonight.”

I thought “switching” everything was our main problem, Coach Strickland.

Big Ump

December 19th, 2009
4:33 pm

Samuel

I’m like you. I believe Deron should know because he was caught up in it.

O'Brien

December 19th, 2009
4:49 pm

Samuel,

When we lost to the Knicks in ATL, got blown out by the Bobcats, and lost to the Pistons who were without 3 of their top 6 players, the Hawks were switching everything too. How did that work out?

For what its worth, I think the Hawks should be more selective when they switch, as opposed to doing it every game all the time. And when they mix it up, they have been very effective.

Samuel

December 19th, 2009
5:08 pm

O’brien,

What’s our record compared to the Knicks and Bobcats? Thought so. I trust Woody to do what it takes to win. He’s proving that he knows best how to run this team.

Woody=COY

O'Brien

December 19th, 2009
5:19 pm

Samuel,

I was very critical of Woody over the years, but so far this season, he has surprised me, and exceeded my expectations.

As for the switching, there are some games when it doesn’t work. When it is not working, I just want Woody to be flexible, and adjust. Obviously, the switching was very effective last night.

Samuel

December 19th, 2009
5:24 pm

Looks like he’s being pretty flexible to me, since we have the 2nd best record in the conference and the 3rd best overall. I don’t believe he expects to go undefeated in 82 games. I’ll take 76% any day.

Ramon

December 19th, 2009
6:26 pm

The switching on defense will be successful against many western conference teams, because they only play the Hawks once/twice a year. So that defense is easy to catch someone off guard with it, especially on a road trip when they haven’t had time to prepare for it. The weaknesses of a switch defense will be exploited in a playoff series, where mismatches are searched for and abused. Another thing is Utah only possesses one player who actually likes to post up, and that is Boozer. So if you’re switching when Boozer isn’t in the game, Bibby is less likely to be exploited on defense.

Grandad

December 19th, 2009
6:27 pm

For All:
The main reason R.Sund is going to evaluate Mr.Woodson in the play-offs
is precisely what yawl have been discussing this afternoon. The switching def. debate. It evidently caused Utah great problems. They had not seen it this yr. They may or may not see it again until they
re-match with us. In a play-off series they would have the opportunity to adjust next game. Thus a series becomes a match of counterpunches.
Will Mr. Woodson be able to adapt and maximize talent? Will he be able to make the necessary adjustments in a short amount of time? Will he be able to hold serve [Boston '08] plus win a big game on the opponents court? Will he be able to out-coach a percieved better tactician and strategist? Right now, he is just letting the horses run. Please, one more metaphor, he has actually loosened the reigns. However, come
play-offs, the pace will slow. Then we and R.Sund will see the real ‘Woodson’. This has in no way been a criticism. Lets wait and see.
In the meantime, lets enjoy this run. Go Hawks! Merry Christmas to All.

Rufus1

December 19th, 2009
6:36 pm

No extension until Joe signs

Woodson has proven he can’t develop players…so if he loses his bet veteran, Woodson must go. Billy knight tried to fire him because of the player development.

Ken Strickland

December 19th, 2009
6:47 pm

SAMUEL-you spend so much of your time looking for excuses, you can’t seem to fathum what’s actually going on in gms. You also appear to have difficulty comprehending anything beyond the literal interpretation of anything. You don’t seem to understand there are difference in the way we switch when playing both DEF’s. You heard the word switch and automatically seized the opportunity to try and justify your position, while employing very little thought process in your response. Allow me to explaing something you’ve obviously failed to recognize.

Even when we play straight man to man DEF we switch if the DEF player is unable to get over the pick. However, we almost immediately switch back once the player gets past the pick, thus eliminating any potential mismatch. There are occasions when they are unable to switch back and each player stays with the player he switched to until they are able to switch back again.

It doesn’t take much basketball knowledge or understanding to read between the lines of DWilliams comments. There’s absolutely no way he was talking about having difficulty with Horford, Zaza or Smoove switching off and guarding him, or having Bibby, Teague or Crawford switching off and guarding Boozer or Okur. He was referring to us switching on the successful picks and then switching back before they could take advantage of the mismatches, like teams do when we play the perpetually switching DEF.

In the constantly switching DEF, the player that switches stays with the player he switches to, which creates constant mismatches which usually favors the opposition. Read OBRIEN’S 5:19pm post and get an idea of what is meant by making adjustments, especially during gms, and using strategy. A good HC will often make certain adjustments and changes to meet certain situations rather than stubbornly sticking to something that isn’t working effectively, just because it’s worked before.

doc

December 19th, 2009
7:26 pm

samuel good stuff. as far as promoting woody as coy that is the worst thing i could do for him. last year i promoted george karl who should have won it several times over but he didnt get it; so, maybe if you want your guy to get it, keep me out of it. ;-)

Ken Strickland

December 19th, 2009
7:52 pm

I wonder if the Bulls are excited about this gm, or nervous. Are they concerned about being competitive, or getting blown out like our previous 6 opponents. At any rate, it’s almost time to rumble people. I LOVE THE WAY WOODSON IS NOW HANDLING THIS TEAM AND ALL OF HIS COACHING RESPONSIBILITIES.

GOOOOOOOOO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

bigdave

December 19th, 2009
8:01 pm

lets get it…

BONE

December 19th, 2009
8:11 pm

I’m here reporting for duty

BONE

December 19th, 2009
8:11 pm

HOw many times is Marvin gonna get stuffed 2day????

niremetal

December 19th, 2009
8:13 pm

Great post, Ken. I was waiting for someone to see the description of the switching that was done yesterday and act like it was the same switching that has been done for most of the past season and a quarter.

BONE

December 19th, 2009
8:16 pm

bigdave

December 19th, 2009
8:17 pm

bigdave

December 19th, 2009
8:18 pm

Joe pulling up from East Saint…

Sautee

December 19th, 2009
8:22 pm

Keep shooting JJ

BONE

December 19th, 2009
8:23 pm

Noah looks like Splinter from the Ninja Turtles

BONE

December 19th, 2009
8:24 pm

Marvin’s shooting form looks good but he misses soooooo many jumpers. I don’t understand it.

J.J.M.

December 19th, 2009
8:31 pm

BONE

December 19th, 2009
8:31 pm

Marvin stuffed. thats the 1st 2nite lol

BONE

December 19th, 2009
8:32 pm

Nique with the heat check lol

bigdave

December 19th, 2009
8:34 pm

beautiful…

Sautee

December 19th, 2009
8:34 pm

Sautee

December 19th, 2009
8:36 pm

Can we sustain this intensity?

Sure hope so, it’s great to watch.

JB

December 19th, 2009
8:42 pm

Teague please stop shooting threes

Sautee

December 19th, 2009
8:48 pm

As Clark Kellogg might say…. this team has “spurtability”.

bigdave

December 19th, 2009
8:50 pm

those NBA rankings look championship worthy…

Melvin

December 19th, 2009
8:57 pm

Spurtability…. Sautee, I think a good description for this team…

niremetal

December 19th, 2009
9:03 pm

It seems like the Bulls are going right at Crawford every time down right now.

Melvin

December 19th, 2009
9:03 pm

We missed Josh energy on the court to finished the 1st half…

So as I type this, Joe hits a big 3 to push the lead back to 10….

Melvin

December 19th, 2009
9:04 pm

Correction I meant 8 pt lead…