Washington– You can go down the list of excuses for Atlanta’s atrocious defense: short roster, tired bodies, back-to-back, preseason.
– Al was offered all those outs but he wouldn’t take them: “There’s no excuse. I think we have a long way to go as far as defense if we are going to be an elite team.”
– The Hawks lacked energy and Smoove was the only consistent deterrent at the rim against Washington’s bigs. Al said the Hawks also lack something else: “It’s going to take time for us to trust each other. We’ve been playing together for a few years but when things break down, the next guy isn’t there.”
– The Hawks were slow to get out on shooters. They didn’t fight hard through picks. They gave up too many free runs at the rim. “The defense was not very good at all,” L.D. said. “There energy wasn’t there, the intensity wasn’t there.”
– L.D. didn’t like the 16 turnovers, either. The Hawks forced passes in the offense in the first game, got sloppy in transition last night and this time did both.
– Former AJC Hawks beat guy and current Washington Post scribe Michael Lee came up to me during the second half and said: “I’m sold on Jordan Crawford.”
– It’s not hard to see why. The Hawks play faster with Crawford at the point. He never stops coming, he’s confident and he’s skilled. And he tends to look the same no matter who he’s playing with.
– Crawford needs polish but the raw material looks promising. He’s a dynamic player who can get into the lane and make something happen once he’s there. He’s also a rookie, which means he sometimes immediately follows a very good play (drive-and-dish to Powell for a layup) with a bad one (forced runner early in the shot clock).
— “He’s a true competitor,” L.D. said. “He has a big heart. At times he gets blinded by wanting to get the shot up but I like his competitive spirit. We will continue to nurture him along.”
– JC2 poured in 30 points, distributed the ball well and went 47 minutes after playing 46 at Washington. He looked spent by the end of the third quarter tonight but he kept going. “I’m beat up a little bit,” he said. “But it’s fun. I’m the new guy on the team and the preseason is for me. Coach is letting me play a lot of minutes and giving me freedom”
– For a while in the second half it looked like Crawford and John Wall were trying to outdo one another. Did Crawford have extra juice facing the No. 1 pick? “Not really. He’s a good player and you want to play against the best, but it’s not like I was sitting in my room thinking, ‘I’m going against John Wall.’”
– Joe continued his hot play from the second quarter last night. In the first six minutes of the game he made his first four shots, had an assist and nearly got a steal. It was one of those games where he made scoring appear effortless. You can see him getting his game in shape and building up to the opener.
– It’s the preseason and he’s got stitches in his right hand but Smoove is playing hard. He thwarted a Wizards fastbreak in the first quarter by going low to strip Nick Young, diving to the floor to take the ball away, and then hitting Bibby in stride. The play led to Al drawing a foul at the basket and fired up the the Hawks bench.
– Al, Josh and Joe went to the bench early for Zaza,Powell and Brock. That’s when the game got away from the Hawks. Zaza and Powell had trouble with the tandem of Yi and JaVale McGee. This would have been a good time to at least see what the new-look Twin can do.
– Zaza gave what he got, too. He left McGee checking his nose for blood after a head-to-face collision in the first half, then cleared McGee out with a shoulder to score in the second half.
– This was to be the first home game for Arenas since he was suspended due to gun charges last season but he was a late scratch with a knee injury. Or at least that’s what the Wizards announced.
– After the game, Arenas told reporters he bowed out for Young: “I told him I’d go ahead and fake an injury or say something is wrong with me so you can start.” Michael Lee says Arenas wasn’t joking.
– Tomorrow the Hawks will enjoy their first true off day since camp. “Man, I am so excited,” Smoove said. “I can’t want to go to sleep.”
– “I’ve got some guys banged up, I’ve got some guys tired,” L.D. said. “I’m not going to run them into the ground so we will have a day off. But when we get together Thursday we are going to watch a lot of defensive clips.”
– I’m out, Hawks fans.