What’s up, folks?
Ken Sugiura sitting in again for MC. He’ll be back Sunday.
It’s always interesting reading through the game thread after the game is over (which I just did). It looks like most of you (understandably so) did not see the game going the way it did, although, to your credit (I guess), you didn’t flip-flop completely. There was some measured acceptance of the win, but some “We can’t play like this.”
Some points – The Bobcats have the Hawks’ full attention. Or at least they do now. Mike Bibby, Joe Johnson and Mike Woodson all noted how hard Charlotte plays and how well they defend. You might not know that Charlotte has taken three of four from Cleveland and had won seven of their last eight, including wins over the Lakers and the Magic. This isn’t a bad team.
Said Joe, “They play hard for 48 mintes. They don’t back down to anybody. Give them a lot of credit. Larry Brown had those guys rolling.”
I think some of that went into how the Hawks looked offensively, though I would not say it accounted for all of it. The Hawks turned it over 17 times and I wouldn’t pin that on Charlotte’s defense. Josh Smith was unusually loose with the ball with a seas0n-high six turnovers.
- Rebounding was not great. I was surprised to see the Hawks actually had more rebounds, 51-49. Gerald Wallace had 16 rebounds. But Marvin Williams had a solid game after his clunker against Toronto – 14 rebounds, 12 points on 5-for-10 shooting.
- The last shot of regulation. I’d say what killed the play was the botched handoff between Jamal Crawford and Joe. It forced Joe to retrieve the ball near midcourt, which gave the defense more time to get into him. It’s not clear to me why Josh was the bail-out option in the corner.
Woodson: “They sucked in on Joe and ‘Smoove’ was open. He’s got to take that shot. It looked good when it left his hand. That wasn’t the shot we were looking for, but we were forced into taking that shot.”
- Smith had a great will-imposing stretch in the third. In the third quarter alone, he had 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting, five rebounds, two steals and an assist. That’s pretty dang impressive. Only two other Hawks scored in the entire quarter, Marvin and Al Horford with two each. He basically kept the team in the game. (He also had three turnovers.)
- Horford came alive when the Hawks were down 10, 76-66. He was doing all the small things, setting screens, getting rebounds and hustle points. Here’s what my notes say. Down 76-66, he made a free throw, missed the next, but got the putback by rushing the basket to make it 76-69. He forced a turnover on the next possession and then set a screen for Jamal on the ensuing possession, leading to a basket. On the Hawks’ next possession, he set another screen for Jamal, who hit that fadeaway rom the right side over Raymond Felton that hit the front of the rim and fell in to make the score 76-73. On the ensuing possession, he foiled an alley-oop to Wallace, who was soon after whistled for three seconds. He hit a jump hook to make it 78-75.
Al: “Fourth quarter is kind of clutch time. I felt like I needed to be a little more aggressive and get after it and make plays when the team needed them to be made.”
- Al on playing in front of Michael Jordan: “I saw him in the second half. I was pretty excited about it. I’ve never actually met him. I don’t know him personally, and even though it’s his team and all that, it’s still exciting knowing that he’s there taking the time out of his day to watch us. You definitely want to look good in front of Mike.”
- In a way, that amazes me, that a highly successful professional athlete would be that excited about who’s in the audience, but in a way it doesn’t. It just shows how revered Jordan still is.
- Joe said it took him a while to get his rhythm, having rested for five days. I was listening to the radio broadcast on the way home – 790 had the Georgia Tech broadcast during the Hawks’ game – and at the start of the second half, Dennis Scott said it looked like Joe was “in a daze,” which is about right. He dribbled into traffic a few times and just looked lost. But, obviously, he found the range, making 7 of his last 12 shots.
On the game-winner: “I knew I had 3.8 on the clock. I knew I could take a few dribbles and try to get to a sweet spot on the court where I could get a good look.”
- For what it’s worth, Joe commented Friday morning on an ESPN report that cited an unnamed league source saying that any team that wants LeBron James should go after Joe, because LeBron apparently wants him as a teammate.
Joe kind of laughed and then looked like he didn’t know what to say, then said, “I haven’t heard anything about that. I haven’t seen it. Right now, my main focus is with the Atlanta Hawks ballcub and what we’re trying to do here as a team. We’re really trying to do something special. We’ve got the pieces. Now it’s about us as players going out and executing and getting wins.”
- Have a good weekend!