Who’s got the funk?

Hello, all-

Hope you’re staying warm. I just took a 20-minute walk from lunch with Hawks PR man Arthur Triche and sideline reporter James Verrett back to my hotel. This is my final road trip with the team, so Arthur and James were good enough to send me off with a lunch. James had a pretty big burger, I had a pizza and Arthur, who is on the same veggies and fruit diet that Mike Woodson is on, had a salad. (If you hadn’t heard, new staffer Michael Cunningham will be taking over at the end of the week.)

How I'm guessing Arthur's lunch looked to him

How I'm guessing Arthur's lunch looked to him

Anyway, got a big of news and a thought about the Hawks’ slump or whatever term you want to give it, and some links.

News: The Hawks are looking at three players to sign to a 10-day contract – Anthony Tolliver, Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Mario West.

Tolliver is a 6-9 center/forward who has spent a lot of time in the D-League and has gotten a little bit of NBA time with San Antonio and Portland. The Hawks may have to move fast on him.

Mensah-Bonsu is a 6-9 forward who was with Toronto, but was let go Jan. 5. I believe Reggie Evans‘ eminent return had something to do with it. He has played in D-League and Europe and is apparently not unwilling to dunk.

West, whom you know about, has been playing in the D-League with the Maine Red Claws, which is a team whose t-shirt I would wear proudly.

Who wouldn't look good in Red Claws gear?

Who wouldn't look good in Red Claws gear?

Here is some totally awesome research for you. It’s the best and worst 15-game stretches for Boston, Cleveland, Orlando and your favorite team.

Boston: 14-1, 10-5

Cleveland: 13-2, 11-4

Orlando: 12-3, 7-8

Hawks: 11-4, 8-7

Now, 15 games is sort of arbitrary, and we’re not even halfway through the season yet, so the sample size is small. But I picked 15 because a team can get hot for 6 or 7 games, but 20 is more than half the season. And I wasn’t quite sure what I thought I’d find, but I can’t say I’m surprised. What it says to me is that the Hawks can’t sustain a high like the other three and can’t work their way out of a funk like the other three (except Orlando).

To me, what it might mean, and I mentioned it in Monday’s story, is this: The Hawks still don’t know how to, or can’t, compete at a consistently high level. One thing I’ve heard Mike Woodson say is that the team is still learning to win. That’s what the numbers bear out.

A good team can ride out a hot streak better than 11-4, and get itself out of a rut better than 8-7. One thing I heard a good bit as the Hawks were trying to get out of the four-game losing streak is that every team goes through a funk, which I suspect is true. It’s just a matter of how quickly, and to what degree, each team gets out of it.

Perhaps Mr. Clinton could help steer the Hawks out of their funk.

Perhaps Mr. Clinton could help steer the Hawks out of their funk.

Obviously, we’ve seen that the Hawks can compete with the best teams in the league. But competing on a given night and consistently doing it are different things. Certainly, there are problems with the team.

(This is an aside. It occurred to me last night that, on this blog, I don’t think there’s one player on the roster, or at least in the rotation, that just about everyone thinks the same thing about. Maybe Jamal Crawford. He’s one guy that you all don’t seem to talk a lot about, except that some of you think he should be starting. And maybe Joe Johnson, specifically his shot selection. But everyone else, I’d think, some of you hold a positive opinion on and some of you think the other way. I’m not sure what it says about the team, or all of us on the blog, or human nature, in general. I just thought it was interesting. End of aside.)

But anyway, maybe what is wrong, if you can call it wrong, is not coaching or personnel, but what’s going on between the ears. I’d suspect that it’s a whole lot easier to go from 37 wins to 47 wins than it is to go from 47 to 53 or wherever the Hawks are trying to get. That certainly doesn’t absolve the Hawks from playing the way they did against Orlando or Miami, but maybe it helps explain it. A 53-team might no’t have let Nate Robinson steal a game at home, but a 47-win team would.

So I guess you’d say it falls on Woodson and/or the veteran leadership to get the Hawks to a point where they do know how to win like a 53-win team does. And I’d say that, with less than half the season gone, I don’t know that this group can’t really begin to figure that out this season. I’m not sure how that works. It does seem easy – play hard. But perhaps it’s a little harder than that. (Read some of the quotes below.) After all, how is it that the Magic can go 7-8 over 15 games when they were good enough to go to the finals last year?

Dwight Howard after Saturday’s game: “We’ve got to play with the same effort and intensity every night.” (Heard that somewhere before?)

Some links

Hoopsworld.com rated the Hawks through 30 games.

The Boston Herald’s take on Friday night’s game.

“They feel real comfortable with us right now,” said a disappointed (Kendrick) Perkins after collecting 15 points and 14 rebounds. “They’ve beat us in our house and their house now. I thought this was a statement game for us. I think we played in spurts. I don’t think everybody was on the same page. Our defense was pretty good, but it could have been better. And offensively we just (stunk). We didn’t play Celtic ball tonight.

“I think sometimes we kind of look over them. Guys don’t take them serious, but they take us serious. You can just tell with the way they’re playing that they’ve got something to prove.”

The Boston Globe’s game story.

Doc Rivers: “They come with a sense when they play us, with a purpose, and we just showed up. I thought the first five minutes we were a Sunday stroll in the park. Then we lit a fire and got it going. We’ll find out – we play them on Monday, but right now you’ve got to give it to them; they’re the better team.”

A Lowell (Mass.) Sun column urging the Celtics to get into the Joe Johnson sweepstakes.

422 comments Add your comment

O'Brien

January 11th, 2010
3:38 pm

First? Say it aint so

Marcus

January 11th, 2010
3:39 pm

somewhere in first 5 !!!!

I had hoped we had figured out the roller-coster performance, but it comes upon us again. What do the Hawks expect or need out of M. West/Mensa-Bonsu/Tolliver that they DIDN’T get from the guy they cut last week?

Fundamentals

January 11th, 2010
3:43 pm

Why not sign one of the centers from the D-League? A real 7′ kid? There’s several.

kwooden1

January 11th, 2010
3:48 pm

Fundamentals If Woody’s not going to play Morris or Collins, why would he play someone further down on the bench?? Sunds has to bring back West, he’s the only guy of the 3, that would get any playing time; chance to contribute.

GO HAWKS!!

O'Brien

January 11th, 2010
4:00 pm

Ken S,

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the team only allowed to dress 12 players? If that’s the case, then it doesn’t matter who the 13th guy is, because he will be wearing a suit at the end of the bench.

Kwooden1,

Agreed. Woody does not effectively utilize Collins or RandMo, and I just find it hard to believe that Woody will give a center from the D League PT. Plus will a D League center be better than who we have right now.

Frontcourt is not the problem. Scheme, player utilization and effort is.

Astro Joe

January 11th, 2010
4:01 pm

If Woody is not going to play…

Come on guys, how many guys who are the 12th or 13th men on the bench get anything resembling consistent playing time? The issue is that we are NOT going to sign someone who breaks the top 10 players. Mario makes the most sense because there is a specific niche that he brings that is required… a perimeter defender who gets off on frustrating the other team’s hot player. He could be the “break glass in case of emergency” player… like when JR Smith, Raja Bell or Nate Robinson are out-of-control and our regular set of wing defenders aren’t making an impact.

Beyond that, players 11-13 are there in case of injury… not to play on a regular basis when everyone on the depth chart ahead of them is healthy.

Ken, I agree. Despite the call for less jump shots from guards, Crawford seems to be the exception to the rule, despite the obvious.

niremetal

January 11th, 2010
4:05 pm

Give me Mario or give me death.

Rod from College Park

January 11th, 2010
4:05 pm

vava74

January 11th, 2010
1:27 pm
Rod,

“Marvin switches frequently enough to guard PG and SG on the top of the key and on the sides to impact his rebounding numbers. Also, he is playing 4 mpg LESS than last year.

As for his shots, I must say that your reply sounds a bit childish to me: if it was so easy to knock down shots during games why there are guys who can hit ten or twenty 3pts in a row during practice and in game time cannot hit more than 37/38%??

Also, for a shooter like Marvin is difficult to get into a good rhythm if you are not featured consistently on offense.

You should note as well that his percentages during the past games improved dramatically: in his last 5 games he shot 55,3% overall and 50% from 3pt land and in his last 10 games, he shot 51,4% overall and 38,1% from 3pt land.”

If I sound childish, I would have to say that you are making EXCUSES. The bottom line is that he is not producing the way that he was expected to. The answer to your second paragraph is because they are guarded. Teams don’t guard Marvin. This poem comes to mind.

“Excuses are monuments of nothingness,

They build bridges to nowhere,

Those of us who us these tools of incompetence,

Seldom become anything but nothing at all.”

GeeMack

January 11th, 2010
4:08 pm

Good read Ken. You’ve done a great job with all the other responsibilities you hold. I guess my thoughts on the inconsistent play is where is the veteren leadership? That’s why we brought in some of these older guys. They are suppose to be teach the younger guys how to be professionals. Teaching them how to be ready to play every night. I guess it’s a work in progress.

KevinA

January 11th, 2010
4:32 pm

It would be good to see West back for awhile and see what the D League taught him. It would also be a good time to send JT to replace him for 15 games or so to give him 35 min a night of consistent playing time. We need Teague confident and improved.

In blow outs would be nice to see less Jamal and more Marvin to work out the kinks. I have nothing against ZaZa but Rando needs the opportunity to show wether he can be better than ZaZa and Joe Smith.

KevinA

January 11th, 2010
4:56 pm

Ken,

You have done a great job and will be missed. I would think you had fun getting to hang with the Hawks and their fans. A life experience you may or may not get again. I hope your future endeavors are as successful. You are allowed to cut and paste for your resume.

Ben

January 11th, 2010
4:59 pm

Ken, so where are you going to be going? Are you staying with the AJC?

lady j 80

January 11th, 2010
4:59 pm

the hawks don’t need to worry too much about signing a 13th man when coach woodson fail to play all the guys in uniform now. For example, they made a big deal this pass summer about adding BIGS to the team so they acquired Smith and Collins who get less than adequate minutes. We took a promising point guard in the first round of the playoffs who rarely gets playing time. Yet, Woodson says Teague needs more confidence. Well, the coach is not showing much confidence by giving him minimal playing time so how is he going to increase his confidence and develop the talent that he has. Sooo again, why are the hawks even talking about acquiring a 13th man when they know he’s not going to play. My suggest would be to bring a fan down and pay them to sit at the end of the bench for 10 days. It’s not like they are going to play, in fact, coach Woodson I nominate myself and Rick Sund I will nominate myself.

KevinA

January 11th, 2010
5:05 pm

It’s official – West back for a 10 day contract.

cp

January 11th, 2010
5:08 pm

If the guys on the end of the bench don’t play now why would any of these other guys get any pt? Who will be forced to wear a suit just to see what any of these guys can do? Really doesn’t make any sense to me.

Ramon

January 11th, 2010
5:09 pm

I honestly think the Hawks should look in to seeing what would be the cost to trade for someone like Dahntay Jones out of Indiana. If the price isn’t too much, I would definitely say consider getting an extra defensive minded player like him, to come off of the bench. I think he can play as good of defense as Mario, and has better offense to go along with it.

KevinA

January 11th, 2010
5:11 pm

lady j 80

West has a different skill set defensively than Bibby/Jamal or Teague. He will get spot minutes.

Ben

January 11th, 2010
5:15 pm

Where did you see it’s official West got signed to a 10 day contract?

GeeMack

January 11th, 2010
5:18 pm

It’s funny how we say Woody don’t play the bench Mo Evans, ZaZa, JC, Joe Smith & Teague all get consistent minutes. Those guys are at least averaging 10 minutes a night. It’s hard to see any team using 11 or 12 players even the champioship caliber teams like the Spurs Lakers,and Celtics.

richbrave

January 11th, 2010
5:19 pm

HAWKS fans. Word is CARON wants out of D.C. He’s 10.5 against the cap next year. Got any ideas?

And J-CRIT is on excused leave. I don’t know any more than that, but the last info to break on the ARENAS thing was not pretty where CRITTER was concerned. It was said that when GIL asked him to chose a weapon, CRITTENTON threw or kicked one across the locker-room, then proceeded to pulled his own, fed in a clip, and chambered a round, all the while calling ARENAS out brandishing the weapon in the air. Now that an out-and-out felony or two in D.C. and with the FEDS as well. If true, CRITT is done as a WIZARD, and will probably do 10 years per conviction.

Mike is Back

January 11th, 2010
5:22 pm

KenS, interesting article…I think the Hawks could avoid these funks…if they focused more on taking advantage of mismatches on Offense. We are undersize at the pivot…but that is it…usually our guards or forwards has a size advantage…yet we always rely on jump shots for offense.

As long as Woody keeps relying so heavily on JJ, Bibby, and Crawford…we will have these swoons. The ISO plays looks great when we are making shots…but when the shots stop falling and guys are still hoisting up shots…the young Bigs get frustrated…then everyone starts trying to win the game on their own. We have all seen it happen… No shots…No execution…No coaching…we F up.

The first quarter is usually a precursor to whether the Hawks will compete in a game. When the shots are not falling, they become listless and give up. That falls on the coach as well as the players.

I’m with the Mario West crowd…his intensity and energy has been sorely missed… I thought Teague would fill some of that void…I was wrong…with Teague struggling with his confidence…it would make a lot of sense to bring Mario back.

niremetal

January 11th, 2010
5:28 pm

Super Mario returns?
http://hardwoodhoudini.com/2010/01/11/report-red-claws-mario-west-to-sign-with-hawks/

I’ll believe it when Arthur Triche tweets it.

KevinA

January 11th, 2010
5:30 pm

A win tonight would make you wanna do this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5N7R9Wbe_E

Sautee

January 11th, 2010
5:50 pm

Ken,

Thanks for all you have done. You definitely got better as you went along. I’m sure it was difficult to take on such a task. You filled in admirably for Sekou.

Well done. Best of luck.

Sautee

January 11th, 2010
5:52 pm

Oh and NICE George Clinton reference!

monuntaiman36

January 11th, 2010
6:04 pm

my take on all this is that they were gelling so well in the begining of the season, and we have lost some of that. i also have a few coaching questions – such as why nate robinson did not get his leg broken the third time he drove the lane? we have fouls to give, foul the man, then he wont be as excited to drive and then run his mouth – same with wade in the last game. also – collins should be in a lot more against the big men.

all that asside – i think some of the other non elite teams have started to gel now – like the knicks. they were terrible, now they arent so bad. charlotte too. and toronto

so its a combo of the ther teams are getting better and we are getting worse for a little while. also playing three elite and one very good team in a 2 week span doesnt help.

rpc

monuntaiman36

January 11th, 2010
6:07 pm

also – mario west needs to come back – teague will be ok. teague thought he was a lot better than he is in the beginning of the season. he drove all the time and got packed. now he fakes and passes.

mario west has that spark we may need. he WOULD have made the difference in the cleveland games – esp the one in cleveland…..perhaps he would stop wade like he did last year too….

TheKid2KILL

January 11th, 2010
6:14 pm

I bet JJ is going to be a NO show today vs Boston.
Typical JJ.
WE REALLY NEED TO TRADE HIM AND MARVIN!

TheKid2KILL

January 11th, 2010
6:18 pm

Kick ‘em while they’re down
That’s what the celtics will try to do to the hawks tonight.

TheKid2KILL

January 11th, 2010
6:27 pm

I think the hawks will win tonight, NOT thanks to JJ but thanks to jamal crawford.

TheKid2KILL

January 11th, 2010
6:29 pm

I wonder if any of the atlanta hawks players read this?

TheKid2KILL

January 11th, 2010
6:29 pm

is anyone here?

TheKid2KILL

January 11th, 2010
6:30 pm

TheKid2KILL

January 11th, 2010
6:30 pm

Thebizz

January 11th, 2010
6:44 pm

TRADE JOE JOHNSON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! JAMAL CRAWFORD IS THE REAL STAR GET CHRIS BOSH

JeJe

January 11th, 2010
6:51 pm

WE DO NOT NEED ANOTHER FORWARD. WE NEED ANOTHER GUARD TO GUARD PLAYERS LIKE NATE ROBINSON AND TO RELIEVE CRAWFORD IN TRASH MINUTES SO CRAW DOESN’T HAVE TO PLAY 35 MINUTES REGARLDESS OF IF IT’S A CLOSE GAME OR A BLOWOUT.

WHY THE HELL DO WE NEED ANOTHER FORWARD/BIG IF WE HAVE JOE SMITH, ZAZA, RANDMO, AND COLLINS, 3 OF WHOM DON’T EVEN GET MINUTES.

THIS IS SO !@#$ING STUPID. GET A GUARD OR MAKE A TRADE?

JESUS

JeJe

January 11th, 2010
6:52 pm

THIS IS SO !@#$ING STUPID. GET A GUARD OR MAKE A TRADE!

JESUS

Ken Sugiura

January 11th, 2010
6:54 pm

thanks everyone for the kind words. you all have made this fun to do because you are so passionate about your team.
for those who are wondering, i’m staying at the paper and will be returning to the old job i had, which was general assignment sports, which means i end up covering a lot of different things.

mario has not signed officially, but it sounds like it’s going to happen tomorrow.

terrell barron

January 11th, 2010
6:55 pm

Hawks on Nat TV vs. a good team on the road = DISASTER!

Ken Sugiura

January 11th, 2010
6:58 pm

O’Brien, you are correct. west would be the 13th player. hard to say how much he would play. the only time othello hunter was activated was when joe smith got hurt. woodson would be free, i believe, to make whoever he wanted the inactive player and move west in and out of the lineup, but, for starters, he’s only on a 10-day contract.

Clyde

January 11th, 2010
7:01 pm

Sign Sean Williams!!!!!!

niremetal

January 11th, 2010
7:03 pm

NBATV qualifies as national TV?

terrell barron

January 11th, 2010
7:04 pm

LMAO at Clyde!

terrell barron

January 11th, 2010
7:05 pm

NBA TV is shown nationwide. Is it not?

Blast

January 11th, 2010
7:11 pm

Would be great to see Mario back. Nobody on Hawks team can guard the quick guards. Nobody. Bring back Mario.

Win or lose, tonight’s game will tell us a lot about our beloved Hawks.

Ken, we gonna miss ya!

Blast

January 11th, 2010
7:14 pm

Ken On NBATV!

ATL Hawks #1 Lady Fan

January 11th, 2010
7:17 pm

I see Ken Sugiura on NBA TV too!

ATL Hawks #1 Lady Fan

January 11th, 2010
7:19 pm

Looks good the Hawks look pretty hype in the background there. Perhaps we’ll see the team come out with a lot of energy and intensity tonight.

rms

January 11th, 2010
7:21 pm

HA, look at Ken on NBATV looking like a square!!!!

monuntaiman36

January 11th, 2010
7:22 pm

je. je. try waiting more then 30 seconds between posts.
ken – thanks for the info – i wonder if woody will inactivate teague or collins when we need west. i bet west doesnt get many minutes though.