Auburn Hills, Mich.– Another tough one to judge as a whole because of all the missing players and L.D. giving liberal minutes to non-rotation guys.
– Turnovers were a problem again for the Hawks except this time they were more the function of getting in a hurry in transition rather than a lack of cohesion in the halfcourt. The Pistons scored 10 points off Atlanta’s nine turnovers in the first quarter.
– Here was one first-quarter sequence for J.J.: turnover, turnover, missed a rushed jumper on the break, turnover, turnover.
– But then the Hawks settled down in the second quarter and you could see some real offensive chemistry developing. They came back from 15 down to get within 55-52 at the half. Atlanta recorded nine assists on 11 field goals, turned it over just twice and was quicker and crisper than the Pistons.
– “We slowed down,” Josh said. “We have got to take our time. Everybody is not here, so for us to be in the ballgame with limited players, that is a plus for us.”
– The Hawks were particularly effective with the high-low post game between Al, Josh and J.J. Josh is a good passer, Al is nearly automatic when flashing to the free-throw line for a jumper and J.J. can post up most two guards or just shoot over them.
– Those three form a tough combination when they are in sync. “When it gets going and they get a real feel for one another, not just those three but other guys will profit from it as well,” L.D. said. “There was some encouraging things with the high-low. I can see the guys are starting to get a feel for it.”
– With Jamal and Teague back in Atlanta, JC2 (20 points, seven assists) logged a lot of minutes at point guard. He again showed off some good instincts: In the first quarter he found Evan Brock going backdoor for a dunk and had a nice drive-and-dish to Josh Powell, who had the ball stripped.
– There were a few times Crawford barked at teammates to give him the ball and get into position. “No matter if you are a rookie or not, at point guard have to be dominant and not back down,” Smoove said. “When you do that, guys will respect you. They might be like ‘What the hell are you doing?’ at first but then in the end you will get respect.”
–Crawford also did reasonably well with the tough task of chasing around Ben Gordon. The effort is there on defense if not always the awareness.
– Crawford did struggle a bit against ball pressure in the second half. “I thought he did a good job for the most part,” L.D. said. “Obviously he is not totally comfortable playing the point. I wanted to keep him in the fire and let him work through it.”
– Bibby didn’t fare well trying to get through screens to stay in front of Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum. When that happened, the structure of the defense broke down and open shots weren’t t hard to find.
– I know it’s just the preseason but at this rate it’s hard to see how the Hawks can play good, straight-up D with Bibby playing major minutes. I would say it’s not a question of effort, positioning or even straight-line speed. He just can’t move laterally well enough to stay in front of ballhandlers and it puts his teammates in bad positions.
– Al was physical in the post against Ben Wallace and Greg Monroe, clearing space with his shoulder and dropping in baby hooks. Still haven’t seen too many of the counter moves he said he worked on this summer but that could be related to his balky ankle.
– Al sat the second half with soreness. He said he will play at Washington tomorrow.
– Smoove’s glove is a bit bulky. It clearly affected him on a few attempts at the rim and he said it’s tough to catch the ball: “I have got to get kind of used to it. It is still kind of tender. I have got to play because we have limited guys playing and I have to be able to give them some kind of minutes.”
– L.D. asked the players for a good effort despite the short roster. “I did get it,” he said. “I thought the guys did a great job with their energy. The thing that kind of handicapped us at the start was the turnovers. They could have easily folded their tents and called it quits for the night but they fought back.”
– I’m out, Hawks fans.