A troubling game for the Hawks in that a) it followed the one game in which you’d think they’d do everything in their grasp to make sure they got a win; b) it certainly looked like a lot of other games this season.
Up by 22 in the first half, up by 18 midway through the third quarter and the Hawks give it away.
Said Josh Smith, “Words can’t describe it.”
Larry Drew: “The shot at the end, it should never have come down to that.”
- One of the most glaring numbers was this – 26 points in the paint in the first half, eight in the second. They pretty much abandoned their offense in the second half.
Said Drew, “We settled for a ton of jump shots.”
More Drew: “We start playing fast, we start going for home runs and then we start settling. That’s what happened in the second half.”
- One of the most crucial segments of the game was the end of the first half, after the Hawks got up 22. They were playing tough, tough defense, making the Bobcats take difficult shots and use the shot clock. Over the final 2:26, the Bobcats made 4-of-4 shots with two free throws to close to a much more manageable 13 points at the half. Granted, I wouldn’t expect the Hawks to hold Charlotte to two points for the entire quarter – which is what they’d scored up until that point and frankly is incredible – but if they had even been able to just trade baskets, they probably would have won.
I tallied it up, and it’s in the game story. After Smith hit a 3-pointer early in the third that got the lead to 70-52, the Hawks took 17 more shots from 17 feet or more the rest of the game, and made one. Plenty of other ones from in close weren’t great looks, either.
I’ll concede this much: Bibby had made three 3-pointers in a row, and so I’m sure he felt like he was in a good rhythm, so I don’t know how much I can fault him for continuing to shoot. And players like Joe Johnson or Jamal Crawford are guys who can get hot and make a living on the perimeter.
And it’s not like, as they were chucking up jumpers they knew they were going to end up 1-for-their-last-17 from the perimeter. When I talked to Jeff Van Gundy for the story that ran Saturday, he argued a point about the Hawks’ shot selection issues basically by saying, people say shot selection is bad when the shots don’t go in. I see his point. Johnson, Crawford, Bibby and even Smith are fully capable of making 3-pointers and jump shots, and it would have surprised no one if, rather than continue to flail away, one or more of them had caught fire in the fourth quarter and turned the game around.
Still, the indulgence on jump shots was ultimately punitive and, perhaps more to the point, was not what their coach was telling them to do.
Said Drew, “We ended up shooting more 3’s than we did getting to the free-throw line, and you just can’t do that.”
- Hawks have been outscored in the fourth quarter eight times in the last 11 games.
- The Hawks actually played decent defense, I thought. Charlotte shot 42.3 percent, below the Bobcats’ season average, and scored 20 points (on 6-of-16 shooting) in the fourth quarter. I think you’d win most nights with those numbers.
To me, I thought the effort was there for most of the game at that end of the floor.
- Johnson and Crawford were a combined 5-for-23 for 13 points, 0-for-9 from 3-point range. That followed the Philly game in which they were a combined 6-for-16 and had 12 points.
Drew: “At this point, we’re trying to get them the same shots that we’ve gotten them all season long. Right now, the ball has not been falling for them but they can’t stop doing what they do best and I’m going to hound both of those guys as we go out on the road now for them to re-gain their stroke, re-gain their confidence, re-gain their attack mentality.”
- Shaun Livingston took a healthy bite out of the Hawks. Drew said he tried to hide Bibby by mixing up some zones, but it didn’t really matter. He kind of did what he wanted no matter what the Hawks did, finishing with 22 points off the bench.
- Horford on his back (he played team-high 42 minutes): I felt O.K. I can’t say I’m all the way (back). I don’t have lift yet, but besides that, I felt good enough to be out there playing.”
- I’m not ready to declare the sky is falling. The season is way too long for that. This has obviously been a bit of an ugly patch. The Hawks, though, may re-gain their footing on the West Coast. Drew certainly hopes so. “It is a great time to go out on the road,” he said. They’re good enough to have won five games in a row three different times and 33 games total this season, so it’s not like this team can’t win, or shouldn’t continue to win its share.
But it’s, as I said, troubling that Drew can identify the problem but, when the game’s crucial moments arrive, either a) he can’t effectively communicate it; b) his players can’t do what he wants; or c) his players won’t do what he wants.
Drew said after the game that patience and shot selection are things he’s “been harping on since day one. When we don’t get what we want a few trips down the floor, we have to slow it down and we have to get the shot we want. Certainly at that point it’s not taking another three. Our guys, they have not grasped that concept yet.”
Ken Sugiura, Hawks beat