Archive for December, 2010

Atlanta Hawks: Noah out, Magic slumping . . . or why it’s good to be in the East

Shockingly, that hair was not the worst news for Joakim Noah tonight. (AP photo)

Shockingly, that hair was not the worst news for Joakim Noah tonight. (AP photo)

BostonLinks from around the Association . . .

When Al signed a contract extension with the Hawks that was nearly identical to the one signed by his Florida teammate and friend Joakim Noah, I figured that was about right.

They are comparable players with nearly identical win shares per 48 minutes. Al is the superior offensive player. Noah (probably) is a better post defender, though Al’s defensive versatility can’t be discounted. The areas in which I thought Al had the advantage over Noah were age (he’s more than a full year younger) and durability.

Noah missed 18 games last season with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, which has to be a concern for a big man. Now comes word that he will have thumb surgery and miss up to 10 weeks:

“It sucks,” Noah said. “It’s not what I want. But I have to get back to playing at a high level. I’m tired of taking anti-inflammatory (pills) every time I play. I’m …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks: Noah out, Magic slumping . . . or why it’s good to be in the East »

Atlanta Hawks: Pistons 103, Hawks 80

Auburn Hills, Mich.–Well, so much for that.

– There was a point when it looked like the Pistons had finally stopped making shots and the Hawks would methodically put them away. Except it didn’t happen. “It got out of hand quickly,” Bibby said. “They hit like three or four threes in a row and it was just a rampage of threes that we couldn’t stop.”

– The Pistons scored 39 points in the fourth quarter. If that’s not incredible enough for you, how about: The Pistons scored 39 points in the fourth quarter and T-Mac and Villanueva had 28 of them.

– “You have to give Detroit credit tonight,” L.D. said. “They made shots. Defensively we didn’t same sense of urgency that we did in the third quarter when we held them to 15 points. We completely fell apart in that fourth quarter. We turned the basketball over, they were able to run out on us and we just couldn’t get the job done.”

– The Hawks were down 66-63 with 9:46 to play. Four minutes later they were down 81-66. Usually it’s the …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks: Pistons 103, Hawks 80 »

Atlanta Hawks at Pistons: Handling biz against bad teams

Auburn Hills, Mich.–The Pistons are bad. Historically bad. Blowing-a-25-point-lead-to-the-Raptors-at-home-bad. So bad that Magic called them out when he was back in East Lansing the other day:

As for the current Pistons, Johnson said they were a long way from the teams he faced in consecutive NBA Finals in the late 1980s.

“Too many individuals,” Johnson said. “You have to get back to what made them great, and that’s defense and rebounding. … What we see now is a team that’s soft. People from Detroit and Michigan can accept losing, but not the way they’re losing.”

The Hawks should win this game and the temptation is to say it won’t tell us anything about them. But the thing the Hawks almost always do win this kind of game. Their troubles against the good teams have been well documented, and they have to start winning more games like Thursday in Boston to be considered legit contenders in the East. But until the Hawks figure that part out, there’s something to be said for …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks at Pistons: Handling biz against bad teams »

Atlanta Hawks: Joe Johnson shoots Js

Just 10 days after he had surgery to remove a loose body from his shooting elbow, Hawks guard Joe Johnson was making jump shots today at Hawks practice.

Johnson took some midrange jump shots near the end of the team’s practice. He said the first 10 attempts felt awkward because it had been so long since he got shots up.

“For the most part if was pain-free,” he said. “But we are taking it one day at a time. I may have a little soreness tomorrow. We are trying to get it as strong as possible.”

Johnson and the team said his activity today is not an indication that he will return sooner than the minimum four weeks announced when he had the procedure on Dec. 2. But coach Larry Drew took it as a sign that Johnson at least might be on the short end of the four to six week timetable.

“Heck yeah,” he said. “It was good to see him out there. I don’t know what the timetable is as far as his comeback. But I am very encouraged that he is able to be out there just to shoot. We will see how …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks: Joe Johnson shoots Js »

Hawks 97, Pacers 83

Greetings, all-

Hope you enjoyed the game, though it certainly didn’t look like a game anybody would enjoy at the start, particularly people who like to see baskets. Hawks started 1-for-12 and both teams were 11-for-41 in the first quarter. Yikes.

Notables for the game: Jeff Teague, who gave the Hawks a lot of energy after coming in with 3:26 to go in the first quarter; Al Horford, who had an off night shooting (7-for-2o) but compensated with an excellent night of defensive work on Roy Hibbert (3-for-14); Jamal Crawford, who was 7-for-16 from the field, 9-for-11 from the line and made way more offensive impact than his three assists would indicate.

Larry Drew: “I thought our bench did a great job in the second quarter. I thought Jeff Teague was the catalyst of that. His speed and his energy when he got into the game got us going.”

On Hawks’ scoring: “We got it off of movement. First of all with Hibbert, the one thing we wanted to do was keep him on the move, and we did that. …

Continue reading Hawks 97, Pacers 83 »

Atlanta Hawks: Spurs 108, Hawks 92

San Antonio–Tight game, tough opponent, and the Hawks had to make a few food plays to earn a big road W. You know how this one ends.

– “It’s frustrating,” L.D. said. “That’s kind of been our case. We were the same way in Miami, going down the stretch in the fourth quarter and we had an opportunity. Tonight we had an opportunity as well. We just didn’t get the job done.”

– The Hawks played without J.J. and Zaza and they could have used both guys. Then Smoove was limited to 13 minutes after halftime and Richard Jefferson suddenly was shaking free for open 3s.

– But consider that the Spurs turned back the Hawks with Tim Duncan playing zero minutes in the fourth quarter and Manu Ginobili sitting the final nine minutes. “I just thought the team that was on the court was doing the job, so Manu and Timmy stayed in the bench,” Gregg Popovich said. “Sometimes there’s a certain flow going on in a game and a group is doing well, so there’s no reason to change it.”

– He makes it sound so …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks: Spurs 108, Hawks 92 »

Atlanta Hawks: Pick-and-roll . . . and ‘Pop’

San Antonio–I’m trying to remember off the top of my head all the times this season L.D. has said the team’s pick-and-roll coverages broke down late in games.

The last time was at Miami, when LeBron turned the corner and found that no Hawks player seemed to be responsible for cutting him off as he went barreling down the lane. It happened against the Knicks, too, once Smoove wasn’t in the back to discourage such excursions. Of course Phoenix and Utah gave the Hawks trouble with screen-rolls.

So now here comes the Spurs, with the Tony Parker and Tim Duncan capable of scrambling Atlanta’s defense.

“They are one of the better pick-and-roll teams in our league,” Drew said. “Parker, he is just really good at it. He is one of the best in the league because of the speed, the quickness. He reads the defenses really well coming off the pick-and-roll. That is one of the primary focuses tonight going into this game. We know there is a chance we will probably have to make some …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks: Pick-and-roll . . . and ‘Pop’ »

Atlanta Hawks: Zaza is out sick; Hawks to stay big

News and notes . . .

Zaza is sick and won’t make the trip to San Antonio. I refuse to be blamed for this. My theory is he caught something from the Magic players because they banged with Zaza in the post, not me.

Anyway, L.D. said he plans to stick with the Bibby, Marvin, Smoove, Al, Twin lineup. So far the results of the big lineup have been good, particularly on defense.

Not sure how the look would do long term but right now L.D. is deploying Collins in situations where his bulk is a plus and his relative lack of mobility and rebounding are masked. The Hawks benefit because they don’t have to scramble all the time.

“We are able to play straight up and not have to run around trying to get to shooters,” Drew said.

But now the Hawks run into the Parker-Ginobili-Duncan pick-and-roll-a-rama. They caught a break when Jameer was out for the Magic and defending the screen-rolls wasn’t much of an issue against the Nets since the Hawks were scoring whenever they felt like it.

So …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks: Zaza is out sick; Hawks to stay big »

Hawks 116, Nets 101

Greetings, all-

This is Ken Sugiura filling in and giving Michael Cunningham a rare and well-deserved night off. Hope you all enjoyed the game.

A pretty impressive night, my first time watching Larry Drew’s club in person. Obviously, ball movement and the shooting stuck out, particularly given a) they were playing the back end of a back-t0-back in which they’d shot 38.8 percent in the first game; b) were playing their fourth game in five days; c) I’m not sure about a c. Actually, here’s a c. The Nets a pretty decent defensive bunch. Their defensive field-goal percentage coming in was 44.8 percent.

The lineup of Mike Bibby/Marvin Williams/Josh Smith/Al Horford/Jason Collins, which debuted  is now 2-0. I imagine Drew will keep this lineup. He likes the size mismatches it presents at the 2 and the 3 (Williams and Smith), that it makes the opponent match up the Hawks rather than vice versa. He also likes that it frees up Horford to play the 4 and not have to wrestle the likes of …

Continue reading Hawks 116, Nets 101 »

Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 80, Magic 74

Orlando–Ugly? Yes. Worthless? Depends on your perspective, I guess.

–”It was a bad basketball game and we played worse than they did,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said.

– You would think this kind of game would favor the Magic, who are the grinders to Atlanta’s runners. “It’s encouraging to see see guys stick with it and keep defending and keep rebounding,” Al said. “It was ugly but we’ll take it.”

– No use in the Hawks pretending was a normal December W.

– “I ain’t even going to lie to you,” Smoove said. “After losing in the playoffs by like an average of 30 points and playing good enough to win last time but coming up short, we was just determined to get a win here.”

– “Mentally this was a big boost for our guys,” L.D. said. “We’ve come up empty-handed here for a very long time. Last time we were close and we again came up empty-handed.”

– “It’s really big for us,” Bibby said.

– “It’s a good feeling,” Al said. “We’ve struggled against them in the past. We really fully …

Continue reading Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 80, Magic 74 »