Utah Jazz at Atlanta Hawks: Still happy, together?

L.D. called guys out during the Thursday video session and apparently some feelings got hurt. When the team huddled up after practice, he told them: “This is no time to be sensitive. I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong and you have to be able to look in the mirror. There is going to be accountability.”

Smoove and Al, who got into during a timeout huddle in the Bucks game, both said the team remains together.

“It took a game like that to wake us up to doing things the right way and staying together,” Smoove said.

“I think for a moment there everybody kind of went their own ways on the court,” Al said. “We came back together [Thursday] solid. We have to make a commitment to each other to always try to stick together even when the going gets tough.”

Wednesday night’s debacle was reminiscent of Atlanta’s meltdown against Orlando last spring, but L.D. said he’s fine with some healthy disagreement:

“It kind of comes with the territory any time you lose. The most important thing is that we don’t fragment. I want those guys upset. I want them mad that they didn’t play well, they didn’t play the way capable of playing. I want them them jawing at each other but do it in a constructive way and allow that frustration to transfer to [Friday] night’s game and let’s take it out on the Jazz. I think it’s healthy for a team if it’s done in the right way. But it it causes any kind of problems among the players, then it’s a problem. I embrace that, especially if it’s done the right way.”

Crucial conflict

At Hoopinion, Bret LaGree succinctly sums up L.D.’s dilemma when it comes to his reserves:

Larry Drew’s commitment to using his bench both to develop depth* and not to exhaust his starters is theoretically sound. Practically, he lacks the personnel to accomplish either goal without suffering in-game consequences. Jamal Crawford** and Zaza Pachulia are his only (healthy) quality reserves. There are very good reasons why Josh Powell, Jason Collins, and Etan Thomas have not been rotation players in the NBA for years and the drop-off from All-Star starters to sub-replacement level reserves will cause conflict between Drew’s desires and the realities of winning basketball games.

**Jamal Crawford is still a valuable offensive contributor to this team but, as he reverts to his career norms following a career year and has to fit into a team concept which does not suit his particular skills as well as the absolute scoring freedom Mike Woodson gave him, his weaknesses become more apparent with each passing game.

And the consequences of the conflict for Drew that LaGree desribes, which has been exacerbated by injuries exposing Atlanta’s unbalanced roster, lead to the kind of things you saw in the Bucks game: Guys are playing out of position, not suited for their roles or simply not good enough, and suddenly the whole thing falls apart and everyone’s frustrated.

Mo is back tonight (L.D. said he would come off the bench) and Marvin is close so perhaps when those players return and the rotation gets back to normal things won’t be so out of whack for the reserves.

“I like our bench,” Zaza said. “We have great guys. We’ve got bigs, athletic, shooters, quickness. I feel confident about our bench. We just need to make it more consistent.”

MC

254 comments Add your comment

dukester

November 12th, 2010
2:27 pm

Dont know why that was embarassing the other night. I am through with it. If the Hawks organization is happy with this team who am I to argue with them. The laws of losing will make a change in GM, coaching staff and players. Lets see how the chips fall.

dukester

November 12th, 2010
2:28 pm

Darn am I first?? WHooo I have hit the lotto where is everybody?? Dang have all the Hawks fans given up!! LOL knock knock anybody out there in cyber space.

Rev in Tampa

November 12th, 2010
2:38 pm

I am not as concerned with the lack of quality depth on the bench as I am with the lack of character. I want to see this team play through adversity. I want to see this team play hard when they get down by double digits.

Ramon

November 12th, 2010
2:44 pm

MC is Mo starting tonight?

beone

November 12th, 2010
2:47 pm

Let’s hope that LD sticks to his guns and makes these guys own up to their shortcomings with improvement as the goal. Whoever can’t face the truth and finds excuses for everything so as to divert the blame away from them should be traded so as not to poison the whole team. If that means trading a supposed star, then so be it.

Marcus

November 12th, 2010
2:49 pm

I suspected the injuries and players in unfamilar roles is caused the dustup.
BTW, when did the blog start showing upside down. Most recent posts at the top, older at the bottom?

NCBravesFan

November 12th, 2010
2:54 pm

Sounds like the inevitable “Come to Jesus” moment has finally taken place – which you figure was going to happen sooner or later. Hopefully the Lord is a rare sight in Hawksville, as repeated visits have been shown to lessen the impact.

GT Alum

November 12th, 2010
2:54 pm

Glad to hear LD isn’t too worried about hurting these guys’ feelings to push them to play to their abilities. This team definitely doesn’t have the consistent focus of a championship team, so hopefully he’ll push them to see that you need to have fun playing while staying focused on assignments and doing your job. The players liked him before he got the job and wanted him as the head coach, so hopefully he has the rapport with them where they can take it as him trying to make them the best they can be and not be hurt by it.

cp

November 12th, 2010
2:55 pm

I hope he does hold guys accountable…The talent on the bench is just not there and many of us complained about it this past summer but Sund felt like the bench was fine. I just didn’t understand signing guys who have not been solid contributors in years and in Etans case maybe 4 to 5 years. As long as the front office is fine with what we have then we will continue to have the same issues.

Section 303

November 12th, 2010
2:57 pm

I’m all for guys taking ownership in the team and getting on each other. It can be a good thing, if used right. Tom Izzo’s players are always getting on each other (and him), but they can handle it. I’m not sure about the Hawks players.

Also, these guys have been in the league for years now. Why are they still needing lessons in how to play hard? How many times to we have to read/hear about this stuff before they get it? This is why I think a move needs to be made with this roster. Bring in some players that can set an example. We have one, Al. He needs some help.

What makes this all so frustrating is you know this same situation will come up at least 3-4 more times this year. The Hawks will quit in a game, we’ll read about Coach Drew getting on them, they will tell us how they “needed that” to get back on track, win a few games, quit in a game later….it is a never ending cycle with this group of headcases.

NCBravesFan

November 12th, 2010
2:58 pm

One thing that I wonder about on the accountability issue – with a thin bench, just how much leverage does LD ultimately have?

Michael Cunningham

November 12th, 2010
3:10 pm

@Ramon: “MC is Mo starting tonight?”

no, i forgot to add that. thanks . . .

Astro Joe

November 12th, 2010
3:35 pm

Well, this should make for an interesting season. If nothing else, a single leader will likely emerge and others will fall in line (or be ticked off and/or shipped out). I vote for employee #15 as the primary leader of this never-say-die crew!

superiorblogman

November 12th, 2010
3:40 pm

Al Horford does not play defense. Zaza can not play defense and is pure garbage. The Hawks need a total makeover on the frontline. At the end of the season we will be in the lottery.

GT Alum

November 12th, 2010
4:00 pm

NCBravesFan -

Things like extra practice, calling people out in film sessions and during games. It may result in hurt feelings and more trade demands, but, if there’s people here who don’t want to do what they need to for this team to be as good as it can be, I’m fine with shipping them out.

Ramon

November 12th, 2010
4:02 pm

Section 303, you say we have someone who sets an example in Horford? So why is the Hawks always lacking any interior defensive presence aside from Smoove (a couple of times MC has reported this)? So should the rest of the team follow the example Horford has set on defense? Sorry I like Horford. But it seems like the more points he’s scoring. The more his defense is suffering.

Ramon

November 12th, 2010
4:03 pm

@ MC, thanks. I think if you go get a jersey from the Equipment manager. You may can get you 2-4 minutes of playing time tonight at SF, lol.

i_am_soulstar

November 12th, 2010
4:07 pm

I’m glad some feelings got hurt. Someone needs to be pissed off after a 3 game losing streak!!!! Phoenix and Orlando were good efforts. But that game against the Bucks was just pathetic.

Don’t get mad if L.D.’s calling you out.

MAN UP!!!!!!!!!!

Big Ray

November 12th, 2010
4:08 pm

IInteresting. Well, we shall see if the Hawks can walk the walk, since they talk the talk.

They realized that they’re not sticking together. What will MAKE them stick together? Will they ever be able to do this? Or does something have to change?

The idea that Al Horford doesn’t play defense still makes me laugh….

Big Ray

November 12th, 2010
4:09 pm

OH, and I’m glad that LD hurt some feelings, then told them to get over it. About time we got some tough love. Now suck it up and get grown.

i_am_soulstar

November 12th, 2010
4:10 pm

Just glad we have one of our perimeter defender’s back. Welcome back Mo.

lewis

November 12th, 2010
4:13 pm

Al Horford doesn’t block shots. He forces people into bad ones.
You’re a fool if you don’t think he plays D.

Ramon

November 12th, 2010
4:14 pm

Big Ray, I didn’t say Horford doesn’t play defense, he does. But he’s only average on defense. And I’m not speaking about the blocks. On this team, at best Horford is the 5th best defender. In the league, at PF or C he wouldn’t be in the top 10 defensively, with the way he’s been playing defense this season. He’s serviceable.

lewis

November 12th, 2010
4:14 pm

I think Jamal’s feelings were hurt.
No one cares about him anymore because he’s proved to be useless in anything other than 1-1 bball.
Defenses look to exploit him even more so than Bibby.

Ramon

November 12th, 2010
4:17 pm

Lewis, Jamal is a walking testimony that its better to trade too early, than it is to trade too late. Its beginning to look more and more like too late. If he scores 18 points tonight. The person he’s guarding will score 15.

lewis

November 12th, 2010
4:26 pm

Ramon

November 12th, 2010
4:33 pm

Lewis, so you would put Horford in the top 10-15 post position defenders in the league?

Ramon

November 12th, 2010
4:34 pm

I said this trade last week, and I still would do it today. Jamal and Zaza for Prince and Big Ben.

Jerome

November 12th, 2010
4:36 pm

Since Mo will be coming off of the bench tonight, that basically means that Collins will be starting at Center again. I really don’t like this idea much, because I am very uncomfortable with Smoove playing the 3 (L.D. should be uncomfortable with that as well and should have abandoned the idea by now), and Collins is basically invisible on the offensive end. Collins may be okay matching up against Jefferson if Jefferson does nothing but stand and bang with him in the post, but the jumbo lineup causes a myriad of other problems.

First off, on the defensive end, we are definitely weaker on the perimeter with Josh at the 3 because he is not only unaccustomed to playing on the perimeter or chasing around shooters, but he also gives guys way too much room when he’s out there, which often results in uncontested jumpers. Additionally, a lot of the more skilled SFs will use their quickness to get by Josh. Also, on the interior, We are definitely better defensively with Al at Center and Josh at power forward than with Collins at center. If the opposing center has any type of quickness or agility, this poses a problem for collins.

Now, lets talk about the offensive end. First off, having Collins at center basically forces the Hawks to play 4 vs. 5 or even 3 1/2 vs. 5 at times, because the opposing team is not going to pay much attention at all to Collins. As we’ve seen in the previous games, he’s been left wide open numerous times, but can’t make the defense pay because he’s just not a very good offensive player. Additionally, having Collins out there clobs the lane, and inhibit’s other players’ offense as well. It gives Al Horford less space to operate, and because Josh is not a threat on the perimeter, It allows opposing defensives to sink into the paint and turn the Hawks into a jump-shooting team in a lot of cases.

Also, when this happens, the offense starts to bog down and instead of going to our bigs in the post for inside-out offense, Jamal or Joe (primarily Jamal) starts to revert to his old habits. Not to mention that our bench only makes matters worse.

Additionally, I don’t like the idea of L.D. reward certain guys with playing time when they have essentially done nothing to prove that they deserve it, meanwhile taking playing time away from those who clearly deserve to be playing even more. Collins was alright in the Orlando game against Dwight, but other than that, he’s really done nothing to prove that he should be starting right now. I know that L.D. is shorthanded, but I could image better or less vulnerable lineups without Collins. I know L.D. doesn’t want to go too small because his wing players may be posted up, but there are ways to get around this. First off, if Joe starts at the 3, I don’t think there will be many cases where he gets he will be taken into the post. At 6′7″, 240 lbs. Joe is still a physical presence even at the 3 and can no doubt hold his own at that position. Now, in terms of the two, I’m not a fan of starting Jamal for various reasons, but why not give someone like Jordan Crawford a shot. He has at least shown that he deserves some playing time (much moreso than Collins). Defensively, he can’t be any worse defensively than Jamal who L.D. has no problem with playing massive minutes. The SG position is obviously Jordan Crawford’s natural position and he has decent size. Also, offensively, if he stays under control, he doesn’t hurt you on the offense end, and is definitely a better offensive option than Collins and helps to give the Hawks better spacing. Sure, he may have some slip ups defensively, but I think it’s a better gamble to go small and play Jordan and risk some ticky-tac fouls and potential post-ups than it is to play Collins at the 5 and risk perimeter players taking advantage of Josh and opposing teams being able to key in on the Hawks offense by ignoring two of it’s players.

I just wanted to throw that out there because some of L.D.’s decisions so far have made me scratch my head a little bit. Oh, and one other things. L.D. needs to give Al more minutes. He should without a doubt be playing at least 30+ minutes on any given night. He should be playing even bigger minutes when you consider our scrub bigs on the bench.

Section 303

November 12th, 2010
4:36 pm

Ramon, you didn’t see Josh Smith throw his hands up and quit in the Bucks game? You missed that? And, what’s wrong with Al’s D? I think you’re forgetting he is playing at the 5 when he should be a 4.

Horford is the only real leader this team has. That’s just a truth. Accept it.

But, whatever, I’m so tired of reading the stupid quotes like ““It took a game like that to wake us up to doing things the right way and staying together”….sure it did, you f’ing idiot! Can’t wait to read similar quotes in a couple months when the team starts tanking again. Some of these guys will just never get it..

Astro Joe

November 12th, 2010
4:39 pm

Man, after reading that blog, I almost hope that they lose by 25, just to see what happens next? Bunch of babies! Who is going to man-up on this team? And when?

Jerome

November 12th, 2010
4:41 pm

Pardon the typos. I typed up that last post rather quickly. Most of the typos should still make sense, but in case it confuses anyone, I’d like to point out one in particular. I meant to say “clogs the paint”, not “clobs the paint” in the third paragraph of the last post.

Najeh Davenpoop

November 12th, 2010
4:45 pm

As always, LD says all the right things. Let’s see if his words translate into the appropriate actions. They couldn’t have hand picked a better litmus test for their mental toughness than the red hot Jazz, who seem to have mastered the art of the double digit comeback. If they can close out the Jazz in this game decisively, I’ll be convinced that they actually have taken a step towards resolving their issues.

lewis

November 12th, 2010
5:08 pm

Defense is about hustle and Al hustles.
So does Mo.
So do Joe and Josh.
Zaza tries but he cannot jump or really get a stop at will.
Powell thinks he’s Ray Allen or Josh Smith or something with those jumpers.
Our bench can’t even slow down a team let alone stop one.
This team is 7 deep on a good day.
Can’t wait for the game tonight.

Ramon

November 12th, 2010
5:11 pm

Section 303, Josh made the gesture with his hands in the 2nd quarter. But he came right back HUSTLING on defense in the 3rd quarter. Do you read the Twitter accounts during the games? So if he was hustling on defense, and was the only player on the Hawks who appeared to be doing so in the 3rd quarter AFTER the gesture, how was it that it was him that gave up? And how are you saying Horford leads by example, but everyone says the entire team gave up?

How many times have you read that Josh was the only resistance at the rim for the Hawks? If Horford is on defense, why isn’t he there also? Glen Davis doesn’t block any one’s shot, but he does draw a lot of charges. How many charges have Horford drawn, since he can’t block shots that well? I don’t remember seeing that many. I actually think sorry Zaza has drawn more charges than Horford has (not saying Zaza is better because he’s not). But when Josh isn’t in the game, Horford does not do a good job of protecting the rim.

Also, the last three games, Horford hasn’t been playing against huge lineups that are so much larger than he is. Horford, Zo, B. Wallace, Mahorn, Bill Laimbeer (was only a half an inch taller than Horford) and a few others are all remotely the same size. Horford plays scared and soft on the defensive end some times. He reminds me of the young Pau Gasol.

Section 303

November 12th, 2010
5:11 pm

Najeh, they probably will beat the Jazz tonight. But, what does that prove? They’ve won games like tonight several times over the years. The same problems are still there. They still fold/quit on games. They still will not play hard all the time. Nothing ever changes.

This “core” group that Sund jerks it to every night needs to be broken up a little bit. Get some players in here who know how to play hard and play like professionals every night. Not just when they are trying to redeem themselves for quitting in the previous game.

I’m off to Philps soon. Already know what I’ll see….the Hawks will win. But, stick around, these problems that we are reading about today will be back soon enough.

Section 303

November 12th, 2010
5:14 pm

Ramon, next time you watch a game, be sure to look on the court. Because, that’s where the game is played. I’m not sure what you’re looking at. I could not disagree with your Horford take more.

And, Josh quit on Wednesday. He did. And, he will do it again. Because, that’s who he is.

Ramon

November 12th, 2010
5:17 pm

Section 303, the entire team (including the coaches) quit on Wed., including Horford.

Ramon

November 12th, 2010
5:20 pm

Section 303, I’ve been around basketball my entire life. I have played basketball my entire life. I’ve had multiple coaches throughout my life. And I’ve studied the game of basketball. Horford isn’t an impact player on defense.

Section 303

November 12th, 2010
5:28 pm

Ramon, I apologize. Didn’t realize I was talking to John Wooden’s ghost.

I will agree that the whole team should take crap for Wednesday.

They will win tonight. I have no doubt at all. They always seem to win when people are cutting on them. But, these problems will be back.

I’m off to the arena. Maybe the organization will wake up and realize some changes need to be made. But, tolerating halfassed efforts from players is something the Hawks excel in.

lifelong Hawks fan

November 12th, 2010
5:29 pm

Ramon, i don’t know which games you watch, but you could easily make an argument that Al is our best defender. He is the only big on the team who defends ball screens consistently well, giving help when needed, communicating switches when needed, and then recovering to his man. He communicates well, he defends guards better than joe, bibby, or crawford, and he’s our best defensive rebounder. Not only that, he was one of the best in the league in defending on post ups last year, in terms of points scored per post up. The Hawks would be lost on defense without Al

Section 303

November 12th, 2010
5:49 pm

Ramon….I’m taking back my John Woodon’s ghost comment and my remark about making sure you watch the court when the game is played. Slipped into Internet Warrior d-bag mode there. My apologies.

Now, off to Philips.

Aaron

November 12th, 2010
5:52 pm

Ramon,

Why not just quit while you’re ahead? Your biased criticism of Al Horford just causes you to lose more and more credibility, and it is obvious that just about everyone disagrees with your take on Horford’s defense. Also, you claim that you’ve watched and played basketball all of your life, well I don’t know what type of ball you’ve been playing, because from a coach’s standpoint, Horford does exactly what you want your big men to do on the defensive end and more. He’s smart, effective, and doesn’t gamble on the defensive end. Horford rarely makes mistakes on defense, and while he may not be #1 on the stat sheet in blocks, Horford gets it done.

One very naive misconception about defense is that you can measure it by how many blocks or steals a player averages, but blocking shots or getting a steal is not necessarily a gauge of defensive effectiveness by itself. Keep in mind that some of the best statistical shot blockers in league history have acquired those numbers from help side blocks. Think about that. It means that in a lot of cases, those blocks came from a defensive gamble where the player left his man to protect the rim. In some cases, this pays off, in other cases, it doesn’t.

Defense is about preventing an opponent from scoring, and whether you do that by forcing them into tough shots, forcing turnovers/offensive fouls, blocking shots, or controlling the boards, there are numerous ways to get it done. Horford definitely gets it done. I’m not saying he’s flawless, but he’s pretty darn solid on defense and the numbers don’t lie. He was #1 last season statistically in individual post defense because out of all post plays which were run against him, he allowed opponents to score on only a very small percentage of those. No matter what argument you want to throw at him, you can’t ignore that.

Now, I’m done with clarifying Horford’s defense. It’s silly to even have to argue over this, because it should be obvious to just about anyone watching that Horford does a great job on defense, but some people may just never get it. To those people, I will just let them talk and laugh amongst myself.

superiorblogman

November 12th, 2010
5:56 pm

Hmm, reports are that the Kings are willing to deal Jason Thompson. He is a upgrade at the PF position off the bench. As much as I respect the price that Josh Powell comes at and the job he has done Thompson would bring so much more.

http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=26y93ea

Jason Thompson and Donte Greene
for
Jamal and a draft pick hopefully a 2nd rounder, but may have to come up off a future 1st rounder

We get a upgrade at backup PF and a backup SF who has more upside and is cheaper than Mo for when Mo is gone next year

superiorblogman

November 12th, 2010
5:56 pm

Or

http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=2bcakxn

Dalembert and Donte Greene for Jamal and Zaza

We get an upgrade at Center on the defensive level with Dalembert and we get the backup of future at SF with Greene.

superiorblogman

November 12th, 2010
6:00 pm

I co-sign Ramon, Al offers no resistance at the rim on defense. Watch Vince Carter, Steve Nash, and every other guard in the league and it is proven. Al basically needs to start swiping down like a guard hoping that Josh comes save him

Ramon

November 12th, 2010
6:26 pm

Aaron, how are you going to argue the very point that I said wasn’t an issue? You saying getting a block or steal doesn’t mean good defense. I didn’t say it did either. In fact, I specifically said I’m not talking about blocks. Drawing a charge is good defense. Boxing out to get an over the back call, is good defense. Fouling a guard/forward who is driving the lane so they don’t get a shot off, and get laid on their rear end, is good defense. Lambeer, Mahorn, Perkins, Glen Davis, and others, they didn’t get a lot of blocks or steals. But it wasn’t easy to score on them either. If you notice, every since that freak accident against Toronto 3 seasons ago (Ford was injured), Horford rarely commits a hard foul on someone driving the lane.
Out of
1)blocking the shot
2) drawing the charge
3) committing a HARD foul
4) watching and acting as if you’re boxing out your man.

Horford too often times chooses option 4. So watch the game tonight. And if he doesn’t change his usual routine, you’ll see many times where he could have provided more resistance than he did. By the way, when the last time you heard an announcer say or you seen an opposing PG, SG, or SF that was scared to drive the lane because big bad Horford was under the goal?

Ramon

November 12th, 2010
6:29 pm

And please know, I’m not saying Horford is a bad player. Horford is a really good consistent player. However, on the defensive end, he can improve a lot.

Some of you guys act as if talking about something that Horford can improve on is equivalent to saying he’s garbage. If Dwight Howard, the best center in the game, has glaring weaknesses that he can work on. I’m quite sure Horford does as well.

lewis

November 12th, 2010
6:40 pm

Ramon, I agree. Horford, as good of defender as he is, still has a lot to learn about boxing out, rebounding, and taking charges. Josh Smith, Marvin Williams and Mo evans are really the only defensive minded Hawks so when they’re gone or not playing well we look terrible.

vava74

November 12th, 2010
6:50 pm

Phil Jackson said on PTI about the Eastern Conference: “I still think the Celtics are the cream of the crop but there is also Atlanta, Miami and Orlando, there are very good teams in the East.”