Atlanta Hawks: Nets 89, Hawks 82
Devin and the Nets broke down the Hawks. (AP Photo)
Newark, N.J.–The Nets a) are 2-1 against the Hawks and 6-19 against the rest of the league and b) have a penetrating point guard, a big post presence and a coach who gets them to play a scrappy defensive style. A and B are closely related.
- “This is the type of defense we’ve been playing but we just haven’t been able to score,” Avery Johnson said. “We only scored 89 points tonight but it was seven more than our opponents.”
- The Hawks got 30 of those points in the first quarter. They started off the game passing the ball around with ease and making lots of shots but then the Nets turned up their pressure. They wouldn’t let the Hawks catch it clean in the post and chased them away from rhythm shots on the perimeter.
- The Hawks didn’t make of those things very difficult for New Jersey. Their entry passes to the post were poor and they were content to shoot lots of jump shots and fade away from the basket instead of go hard at it. Two plays in particular stood out in my mind to illustrate how the Hawks’ passiveness did them in.
- One time Al had Vujacic guarding him and started to back him down. Troy Murphy offered some token help, then retreated. It’s a situation where it’s hard to think Al wouldn’t at least end up with a foul. Instead, he pulled up for a jump shot and missed
- Another time, Murphy ended up guarding J.J. near the top of the key. Joe dribbled, juked a couple times, then threw up a long jump shot while fading away. He missed.
- The Hawks attempted 74 shots. Only 27 were from the painted area.
- “A lot of jumpers,” L.D. said. “We were looking to get more in the paint. We tried to post and they were coming on the double team, which we were already prepared for. That was a situation where we were settling from the outside when we should have tried to put the ball on the floor more to get more drive-and-kick situations. We had some open looks and they just didn’t fall tonight.”
- Joe made four of his first eight shots, then missed his next eight. He looked uncertain for much of the second half and said he’s still rusty. “It’s not going to come back overnight,” he said. “I just have to take my time. “
- “It will probably take another game or two for him to get into a rhythm,” L.D. said. “Early he was explosive and really making some nice plays. He kind of got cold again and couldn’t get it going again.”
- When winning time arrived, the Nets did to the Hawks what any team with competent pick-and-roll guards can do: Get dribble penetration then take advantage when the defense scrambles. Good shots usually will be available against the Hawks in those situations and then it becomes a matter of making them. The Nets made enough to win.
- “They were running the same plays and it took us a while to catch on to them,” Bibby said. “They were running pick-and-rolls, getting mismatches, spreading us out.”
- Atlanta was down 74-70 when Josh was forced to hack Lopez, picking up his fifth foul. Smoove played less than a minute in the first quarter before picking up his second foul. He finished with just 26 minutes and had three blocks. When he wasn’t out there cleaning things up in the back it’s no surprise that New Jersey found it much easier to score on drives and post-ups.
- After Lopez made those free throws for a 76-70 lead, here’s what Atlanta’s next 11 possessions looked like: J.J. travel . . . Collins foul . . . Al misses a fading runner across lane (he wanted a foul). . . J.J. missed corner 3 . . .Bibby made 3. . .Al’s miss over Vujacic . . . Marvin miss . . . Marvin made 3 . . .Josh made 3. . . . Horford made free throws . . . Bibby missed a rushed 3.
- “In the first quarter, we had good ball movement,” J.J. said. “We were getting into the teeth of the defense and making the game easy. After that, for whatever reason, we stopped doing that.”
- Bibby, among the least turnover-prone guards in the league, had five today. He had three brutal miscues in the second quarter, twice throwing it away while trying to feed the post and another time when the Hawks had a chance to get off another shot near the end of the half.
- The Hawks had two turnovers in the first quarter, 14 over the final three. It’s not even that the Nets were taking all those turnovers and scoring–they had just nine points off the 16 turnovers. It’s just that the Hawks needed all the possessions they could get.
- “It’s frustrating,” Drew said. “What’s even more frustrating is they are unforced turnovers, just coming down and making bad decisions on when to deliver the ball. When you are on the road, you have got to be more selective. You can’t have the high-risk plays, the high-risk passes.”
- Without all those turnovers and thus more possessions the Hawks probably win. Consider that they had 12 assists on the 15 shots (out of 52 attempts) they had over the final three quarters.
- The Hawks got nothing from their bench with Jamal out. Just two points after halftime for the reserves. Two rebounds in 13 minutes each for Twin and Josh Powell. Teague never could get the offense going and played just three minutes after halftime. Zaza played two minutes total and had two turnovers.