Miami– After this one Mo wasn’t in the mood to be proud about a near-miss against a good team while missing J.J.: “Another ‘moral victory’ but we had one of those against Orlando last time. Those don’t count for anything.”
– Add Phoenix, Utah, and Dallas to that list, too. The margin of error is slim for the Hawks against good teams and so far they haven’t proven they can make the handful of positive plays at winning time to get Ws.
– Or maybe more to the point they haven’t been able to avoid the negative plays that lead to these kind of losses. “We had some opportunities and we had a couple of missed assignments and a couple of turnovers in that fourth quarter, and then the game got away from us,” L.D. said.
– There was Josh Powell’s turnover that led to a layup by D-Wade that started a 7-0 run with the Hawks down 66-63. Smoove had a turnover during that run, too.
– The Hawks one last run at it when Jamal scored to cut Miami’s lead to 74-72 with less than five minutes to play. Bosh drew a foul on Smoove with a strong post move and made a free throw. Smoove came back at him with made a strong move of his own but couldn’t convert.
– Then came the unkindest cut for the Hawks: Bibby’s lax pass that Mario Chalmers (hardly a Super Friend) corralled to start a fastbreak that Wade finished.
– Then Jamal forced a shot that Joel Anthony blocked and Al was called for a foul. On Miami’s next possession, LeBron blew by Jamal as everyone else sort of watched him throw down some thunder.
– Obviously the Super Friends present a tough challenge. The Hawks recovered from an awful start with some inspired play in the third quarter sparked by Damien Wilkins, who just signed a day ago and might have immediately achieved folk hero status by effectively checking LeBron.
– But the Hawks have to lament the unforced errors that made it easier for Miami’s All-Star trio to finish them off at the end. “With them, you have to be very decisive with your plays because they will take the ball and go score the other way,” Jamal said.
– When Wilkins talked before the game about being aggressive and physical against LeBron and D-Wade and not backing down, I thought it sounded a bit ambitious. And then he went out and was aggressive and physical against LeBron and didn’t back down and it seemed to inspire his teammates to pick up their intensity.
– It’s just one game, but Al is sold: “I love that. I love his intensity. I love his toughness on defense. It’s something we need. I’m saying it now: I hope we keep him and he’s with us for the long run. A guy like that can be helpful.”
– LeBron didn’t score in the third quarter. Wade had seven points and Bosh four, Arroyo two and no other Heat players scored. “We went back to trusting each other and helping each other on defense,” Al said. “We have to do that all the time no matter who is out there.”
– This seemed to be another game where L.D.’s stated desire for defense and toughness was contradicted by lineup decisions that seemed to be based more on concerns about scoring. The lineup with Wilkins and Marvin stymied the Heat late in the third quarter but Drew went with Mo instead of either of those two down the stretch.
– L.D. said he considered finishing with Marvin or Wilkins. “There was some thought of that,” Drew said. “But when we got it to two, and with the guys that were in there, I just felt good about what we had in there. That’s not something I would second-guess myself over if I had to do it again.”
– To be fair, there were two mitigating factors for Drew to consider. Wilkins obviously doesn’t know all of the plays and coverages yet, and Drew said he thought Marvin’s energy was sapped on the back-to-back as he still works his way back from the knee injury.
– L.D. also stuck with his two-foul rule for Al. As a result, Horford had to fit a sensational game (22 points, nine rebounds, 10 of 11 shooting) into just 31 minutes. He had more than half of Atlanta’s production in the third quarter.
– Al has said he’s cool with L.D.’s approach to his fouls as long as his replacements are playing well. He stayed with that line of thinking. “I understand where Coach is coming from this game,” he said. “I thought that Josh Powell and Zaza came off the bench and did a good job. I was OK with it. Obviously it’s frustrating because you want to be out there but I understand Coach’s philosophy behind it.”
– The Hawks were 6 of 18 from the field in the fourth quarter with two assists. Mo seemed to suggest the problem was too much Iso-Jamal. “We were stagnant throughout the fourth quarter and a lot of the game,” he said. “They started to lock in on the one guy who was handling the ball a lot.”