Archive for November, 2010

Atlanta Hawks: Celtics 99, Hawks 76

Shaq and the C's pounded the Hawks. (AP Photo)

Shaq and the C’s pounded the Hawks. (AP Photo)

– I wondered if L.D. would try to keep an even keel after this beat down. You know, try not to overreact to a bad regular-season loss. Keep it in perspective. Say something soothing instead of the something scathing.

– Nope. Not even close. He finally emerged 20 minutes after the game ended and ripped his team for its second surrender in the last two weeks.

– “This was very, very embarrassing,” he said. “If I had to sum it up in one word: embarrassing. To come out with that type energy; that type urgency. What I see with our team right now I don’t feel real good about.”

– The scene was eerily similar to the aftermath of the Orlando series. Bickering players, poor body language, lack of resolve and booing fans during the game. Quiet locker room and questions about character after it. “We came out tonight and didn’t compete,” Jamal said.

– Same group, new coach, and so far the same results. Actually, I can’t even say same results …

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Atlanta Hawks: Jamal Crawford’s ‘instant offense’ on slow drip

Jamal is finding it tougher to attack this season. (AP Photo)

Jamal is finding it tougher to attack this season. (AP Photo)

First, Jamal wanted me to pass along a message to my blog people: He reads all of your comments and he still loves you all. Killin’ em with kindness, I guess.

With that out of the way, it’s been clear that the instant offensive jolt Jamal regularly provided under Woody has gone missing at times as L.D. moves to a more structured approach. Jamal is an instinctive scorer, adept at having the ball in his hands and attacking off the dribble, and now he’s being asked to play off the ball and set the table more often.

The Hawks have found more offensive balance than they’ve had in the past with L.D.’s approach. But for Jamal it’s meant a move away from the comfort zone he enjoyed last season.

“I think it’s some adjusting for him,” L.D. said. “Because he is such a good one-on-one players, I am trying to put him in more situations where he is running a lot more pick-and-rolls. I sat him down and told him he is playing very …

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Atlanta Hawks: Mavericks 98, Hawks 93

J.J.'s last play was only the beginning of Atlanta's problems. (AP Photo)

J.J.’s last play was only the beginning of Atlanta’s problems. (AP Photo)

– The Hawks lost seven home games last season. They’ve lost four times at Philips Arena in the first four weeks this season. Can’t knock their 5-1 road record but also can’t ignore their inability to beat good teams at home.

– Losing by close margins isn’t much of a mitigating factor, either, since the best teams tend to win those kind of games more often than they lose them. The Hawks were healthy and rested this time, too, while Dallas came in after taking a tough L against Chicago last night.

– That didn’t keep the Mavs from looking sharper in the first half. L.D. said the Hawks haven’t played with the same energy at Philips Arena. It’s also true they haven’t played the same level of competition. “We have put ourselves in positions that we shouldn’t put ourselves in,” L.D. said. “A lot of that is a failure to follow details.”

– “I thought we had a good plan coming in,” Al said. “It’s a tough loss. We …

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Dallas Mavericks at Atlanta Hawks: What would a W mean?

The Hawks are looking for their first W against a so-called marquee opponent.

But what would it really mean if they beat the Mavs, Celtics, or both? Is it about the team gaining confidence? Sending a message? Getting some media love?

Is it about proving they can do it, even though it’s only November?

“We swept Boston and they still went to Eastern Conference finals,” Mo noted. “You have got to be peaking at the right time and continue to get better.”

L.D. seemed to be simultaneously downplaying Atlanta’s failure to beat the best teams on its schedule and emphasizing that fact to his players.

“I don’t know how much the guys have thought about who the wins are against,” he said. “It’s early in the season. We have to respect every opponent. You don’t look at their wins and losses. ”

But before practice broke yesterday he told the team they needed to “beat some of these [better] teams.”

“I did put that bug in their ear,” he said.

The way things are going for the Mavs, maybe they …

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Atlanta Hawks: Should Smoove really keep shooting jumpers?

He's so good at this should he really shoot jumpers?

He’s so good at this should he really shoot jumpers?

Maybe it’s getting to the point where all those fans who groan when Josh Smith winds up to take a jump shot (or even just gets the ball on the perimeter) should bite their tongues. Perhaps all those media types who call a Smoove shot attempt a bad one solely because it’s a jumper (*cough cough*) should become a bit more nuanced in their analysis.

A look at the Hoopdata shot location numbers shows that Smoove is making 43 percent of his shot attempts (20 of 47) from 16 to 23 feet and has a 70 percent effective shooting percentage (7 of 15) on 3-pointers. That’s compared to league averages of 40 percent and 54 percent on those shots, respectively. Over his career, Josh has never shot better than 34 percent from 16 to 23 feet or recorded an effective field goal percentage greater than 45 percent on 3-pointers.

All of the usual caveats apply here. It’s early in the season and the sample size is small. There is a mountain of …

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Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 102, Pacers 92

The Pacers couldn't stop Josh Smith. (AP Photo)

The Pacers couldn’t stop Josh Smith. (AP Photo)

Indianapolis–If their defensive energy is going to vary depending on how often their shots go in, then at least the Hawks are humming on offense more often than not. Facing a physical opponent, the Hawks were crisp, patient and effective scoring the ball and improved to 5-1 on the road.

Smoove was inside, outside and everywhere in between, making his jumpers and getting to the line. Bibby made the Pacers pay for collapsing on Smoove, then handed out dimes when the defense ran at him. Al damaged the Pacers with pick-and-pops in the fourth quarter. Marvin was efficient. J.J. wasn’t hitting so he passed.

– Clearly one early trait of the Hawks under L.D. is that they really are buying into moving the ball and spreading around the scoring. “He puts new wrinkles in probably every week,” J.J. said. “I think that keeps us fine-tuned to what he wants and what we are doing out there.”

– “They’ve got a lot of people you have to stop,” …

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Atlanta Hawks at Indiana Pacers: No road worries

If you want to be optimistic, you can say there’s some solace to be had for the Hawks despite that four-game losing streak. It can be found in the standings, where no team in the East except for Boston has distinguished itself, and more specifically in Atlanta’s 4-1 road record.

(You can also say the three losses at home already cancel that out, but work with me here.)

The Hawks have been more efficient on both offense and defense on the road. Like everything with the Hawks so far, the quality of opponents probably has something to do with that–they had their worst offensive game at Orlando and their best defensive game vs. Detroit–but Atlanta has handled its business on the road.

“So far, so good,” L.D. said. “Just hopefully we can keep it up. Hopefully we are understanding how to play on the road. I’ve always said you have to play with a road mentality. You can’t play as fast, you have to be a little more selective with your shots. Certainly you can’t turn the ball over. …

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Should L.D. set Al Horford free?

Al made John Hollinger’s Kevin Love All-Stars team at ESPN.com. That’s guys who need to be set free (Insider):

Atlanta Hawks coach Larry Drew has presented himself as different from predecessor Mike Woodson, but one piece of Woodson era foolishness remains: The Hawks’ insistence on pulling anybody with two fouls in the first half. Horford has been ridiculously good this year, ranking fourth in the NBA in PER, but is playing only 29.9 minutes per game because of the coach’s silly stipulation.

It isn’t hurting only Horford; it also cost the Hawks a game in Orlando. Horford went to the bench with just two fouls and 5:33 still remaining in the first half, and in came Etan Thomas. (Yes, Etan Thomas. Zaza Pachulia also had two fouls by this point, and God forbid the backup center pick up three fouls in the first half. We might need him if there’s a fourth overtime.) A three-point lead quickly became a four-point deficit at the break, and Atlanta lost by four. Horford finished the …

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Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 111, Timberwolves 105

Hawks managed to hold off T-Wolves. (Curtis Compton/ ccompton@ajc.com)

Hawks managed to hold off T-Wolves. (Curtis Compton/ ccompton@ajc.com)

– It wasn’t as seamless as it should have been, but considering the consequences had they blown this one the Hawks took the W and moved on.

– “This one was a must-win,” Al said. “I thought the same thing about the game on Friday. But this was one we had to have. I was encouraged with the way our guys came out and competed.”

– They did compete, which is not a given, and ended the losing streak at four. Playing smart was another matter.

Smoove’s putback gave the Hawks a 97-83 lead with 5:53 to go. Less than two minutes later it was 97-92 and Atlanta had to scramble to win a game it had in hand.

– Not surprisingly, Josh was in the middle of lots of good plays and a few bad ones.

– Josh took 20 shots and made 10. He countered any critique of his shot selection by pointing out the 10 makes. “We all have our roles, but when I’m open, I have the green light to shoot,” he said.

– That’s not exactly how L.D. has …

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Timberwolves at Atlanta Hawks: Effort not yet a habit

Let’s assume the deficiencies L.D. keeps pointing out to the Hawks on to (so far) no avail really are about energy and effort and not simply a matter of not having the right players to do these tasks.

I hear some my blog people saying they are tired of hearing about a lack of effort from the Hawks, and I feel you. Shouldn’t it be a given that professional basketball players effort to block out, get rebounds, run back in transition and do the “dirty” work that L.D. says they haven’t been doing while losing close games to good teams?

“You would think so, but obviously it’s not,” L.D. said. “But that’s my job to keep enforcing it and reinforcing it and showing it on tape and drilling them and getting it to the point where those things become habit-forming.”

Mo, drawing on his perspective from playing for teams like Detroit and Orlando, agrees with the “need more effort” line of thinking.

“It has been like that for the last three years I have been here,” he said. “I used to …

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