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

Daniel

December 21st, 2009
10:02 am

Fundamentals- dude, you are on fire. C’mon man it’s Christmas at least wait until Jan. to let loose. (although, I do agree with what you said.)

rusty

December 21st, 2009
10:10 am

when is one vs five ever better

Fundamentals

December 21st, 2009
10:12 am

I’ll be fine after we take care of business tomorrow. I’d accept a hard fought loss in Denver or Cleveland. I just can’t take losing in lackluster effort to a team we should’ve crushed. Are we contenders or pretenders? Contenders don’t allow such lapses and when they do they’re pissed…not sullen and full of excuses in post game interviews. Somebody should’ve said it was unacceptable and the Timberwolves will pay for it Tuesday. That’s just me though.

Daniel

December 21st, 2009
10:20 am

I hear you. Orlando got slapped by Miami, Boston took one by Phila. Contenders do lose won now and again. The difference between contenders and pretenders is how do you bounce back? Does one loss turn into three? Or do you “take it out” on the next team. I think the Wolves are going to get a beat down.

Daniel

December 21st, 2009
10:20 am

lose one… you know what I meant

Fundamentals

December 21st, 2009
10:27 am

Beat down for sure! I will admit ahead of time that the T’Wolves have some nice pieces. There was a time when a Hawks team would come out on fire and knock down a sure fire contender. Boy those were some fun nights. You’d see the potential, you’d see the fire. I just pray we come out strong and eliminate the potential for the T’Wolves to show us their future. One day they’ll be good if they follow our model. Keep the talent together, let them grow and reap the benefits.

What’s up with Miami? What a roller coaster?

Daniel

December 21st, 2009
10:56 am

Miami has a mercurial star in Wade who is either run down, more interested in commercials or thinking about free agency. The rest of the team is pretty much garbage and they have a young head coach who can’t put all the pieces together because it is not really his team.

RLP

December 21st, 2009
10:58 am

There was an interesting article in the Sunday New York Times on the 10:00 morning shoot around. The article can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/20/sports/basketball/20sleep.html?_r=1&ref=basketball.

There was also a brief profile of the Hawks in that paper but I cannot find a link to the piece. In it they said the Hawks were on the cusp of becoming an elite team and specifically mentioned JJ, Josh and Al as being part of the reason.

As for all of the comments on the current status of the team I think some people have had their expectations raised too high by the great start this team has had. But we should have a few cautionary notes. This team is still young. Winning on the road is not easy for anybody in the NBA. Check out the son loss records of all teams. There are only 11 teams in all of the NBA with winning road records. There are only five teams in the East with winning road records. Sure the Hawks lost to a team they should have defeated. But it was on the road. But the team does have a winning record on the road. Last years team only won 16 games on the road all year.

And for those who take offense to the remarks made after the loss please remember how the team responded after the loss to the Knicks. I think Minnesota will pay a price for the teams loss in Chicago. And it was not as though the team got blown away. It took overtime for Chicago to prevail.

Astro Joe

December 21st, 2009
11:01 am

The Hawks have responded well to losses throughout the season… maybe not in words but in their play in the next game. And with Denver looming ahead, I’m sure that they don’t want to see a Chicago loss become the start of a 3-game losing streak.

northcyde

December 21st, 2009
11:11 am

And yes, I know that wasn’t Phil Jackson’s record in his first 2 years with the Lakers. I left out the word “back”. That should’ve said it was his record “in his first 2 years BACK with the Lakers.” Just wanted to state that before the critics pounce all over that, and try to make me look crazy ( even though they know exactly the time frame that I’m talking about )

At 7 – 5, the Hawks are on pace to go 24 – 17. I’ll definitely take that.

Shoot, there’s at least a 25% chance that we’ll lose @ Minny ( although I doubt it ). But if we lose there, but turn around and win @ Denver, which game is more telling about the Hawks? )

A: Neither

Fundamentals

December 21st, 2009
11:13 am

I’m guessing 12-9 through the end of January.

O'Brien

December 21st, 2009
12:14 pm

After the Hawks lost to Knicks, I thought they would be doomed against Dallas the next night. Woody got them ready, And then they went out and beat Dallas in Dallas. I look for them to put a beatdown on Minny. We are well rested, and should be able to run.

Woody does get some of the credit for our record, and he has improved this year. However, the playoffs will be the judge for just how far Woody and the Hawks have come.

As far as road wins, if the Hawks can go 21-20 on the road, that will be good enough for me. And we should win 30+ games at home.

Rick

December 21st, 2009
12:42 pm

Woodson is going brain dead again. After watching his three guard look generate a minnie slump culminating in a loss to lowly New York, he was back at it against Chicago. Who did he think was going to guard Rose and keep him from driving and scoring or driving and dishing, Biiby, Jamal, Joe? Joe does an OK job of defending off the ball, but cannot handle anyone with a quick first step with the ball and never can figure out how to avoid screens as his man is always open for spot uo threes. Is that your answer to holding a lead. Put in your worst defensive alignment? Give me a break on that IsoJoe junk. When is Woodson going to learn that IsoJoe means you Ohso lose? This team can win without Joe, but it cannot win without Josh. Woodson had numerous options of three bigs to put on the floor, but cannot seem to figure it out. After going 0 for 18 last year on late shots off desinged plays run for Joe at the end of the game you would think Woodson would learn that Joe plays on nautral ability and instincts and can’t run a designed play. Went he gave the last shot to Bibby earlier this year I thought he had come to his senses, but looks like he is still clueless as to whom should take the last shot. It ain’t Joe Mike. Woodson wake up this is your second coaches loss.

vava74

December 21st, 2009
12:53 pm

Rick,

Your criticism is too strong in my opinion, however, I do believe that you hit some interesting points.

JJ is an excellent defender (where we disagree), however, these particular match ups did not favor us. Also, we were coasting on defense.

Yes, I agree that we should have gone big and that Woody should have had some command on the ISO-Joe situation and get other things going.

However, you cannot forget that we won in Dallas with Joe carrying us. This time, it did not work and when he was slumping we should have resorted to other solutions.

Bibby, as you say should have taken a couple of shots in the crunch time (in spite of his bad line until that point) and Crawford could have been given the responsibility as well.

Rufus1

December 21st, 2009
12:57 pm

Why not LEBRON to Atlanta?

If Joe signs and we trade Crawford and or Marvin..couldn’t the Hawks go after Lebron.

If Joe doesn’t sign we would have about 18mil with a better supporting cast than New York, New jersey and Miami(maybe). We are a high profile city that caters to athletes.

Astro Joe

December 21st, 2009
1:19 pm

Wow, and here I thought that the Bulls only scored 40 points in the first half.

Our defense was lacking in the second half because we were missing both of our PFs and Horford was exhausted. Josh Smith simply needs to play better on the road if he is going to continue to improve his game.

Grandad

December 21st, 2009
2:40 pm

Astro Joe:(from last evening)
C’mon seriously, fancy name! K.S. has already made my main point in that I was talking half ct. off., not run & gun. I even said “Woodson has a philosophy on def. Honestly, I think they run on their own.
Big Al & Josh just take off with the ball. Jamal & Teager push it up
by nature.
I was referring to ‘Iso-Joe’ or ‘Woody Ball’ [there's your fancy name for your PR firm].
*Triangle*Princton*P&R*Motion*Passing-Game*Flex*UCLA*Dribble-Motion, all have a well known [amongst b-ball folks] name with a well defined
objective plus a clear cut method to reach reach said objective.
And no, Woodson has neither.
He will be exposed come play-off time.

RLP

December 21st, 2009
5:26 pm

I find it offensive for those bloggers who refer to a portion of the Hawks offense as “Woody Ball” while hailing the offense when it is playing the kind of ball that they like. Do you mean to imply that in the 19 games the team has won they simply ignore the coach’s influence but when they lose it can only be attributed to the coach and that therefore he is a bad coach because the team is then playing the type of ball that he has coached? That seems totally illogical to me. It also seems illogical to me to blame the bad offensive sets the team gets into on the team’s acknowledge offensive leader and refer to the “IsoJoe”. I agree that there are times when the team does not pass the ball well and gets stagnant in offensive sets. I also agree that when teams double team Joe he has difficulty making good passes out of the double team. But this year that has not been the type of offense the team is running. I suspect that the team got into the habit of using the Isojoe play back in the days before Josh came into his own and Al got here and the team lacked any other effective offensive weapons. But part of this teams evolution has been changing the way they play ball. They have demonstrated more offensive firepower this year than at any time during this past five and a quarter year. As the team continues to mature I suspect the offensive capabilities of the team will continue to mature. But just as with the improvements the team has made in the won lost record and other aspects of their development change does not come overnight. It is a gradual thing. I look for continued development of the offense as the team grows.

As for the offensive style I beg to disagree with those who do not believe a team can win offensively based on the kind of defense they play. This Hawks team has athletic big men who are capable of running the floor and taking advantage of there athleticism on fast breaks. Most running teams have a higher turnover ratio because in a running game you do take more risks in order to make a higher percentage of your shots when you are engaged in that type of offense. But the impressive thing about the Hawks is that their turnover rate leads the league in the fewest number of turnovers committed. So when the numbers are not there this team does know how to pull the ball out an get into a half court set. That half court set is admittedly not where they are at their best. But they do have some new pieces that are showing potential for changing this area of their game for the better.

I also believe the ownership of this team is gradually, slowly, but methodically, turning this team into a team with the potential to win a title in the only way a team without the financial resources of teams such as the Lakers and the Celtics or teams without the luck of having a superstar fall into their laps like the Cavaliers or Magic can build a championship team. They have recognized that it takes patience and a willingness to ignore those who cannot be satisfied unless a team has a win now attitude. I love how this team has been constructed and feel that this year is just one more chapter in something that began when they tore up the roster upon assuming ownership of the team. For all of the abuse this ownership has taken they should now reap the benefits for the product they now have on the floor.

Miss Horford

December 21st, 2009
11:55 pm

RLP is very long winded, but you can’t argue a word that he said. Unless you’re just a hater! Nice post.

BEATDOWN TOMORROW!