Atlanta Hawks: Knicks 102, Hawks 90
Felton isn't the only one who does this to the Hawks. (Christopher Pasatieri / Newsday)
New York–After all the hype surrounding this game, it came down to some basic, boring (and familiar) truths about the Hawks.
- A team like New York, which has penetrating point guards, threats to roll to the rim and 3-point shooters, can slice up the Hawks because the first thing leads to the other two. And the Hawks can easily be induced to take long jump shots, either because opponents force them to do so or, like tonight, the Hawks abandon the game plan after a few misses in close.
- Both things happened against the Knicks, and so the Hawks were subpar both on offense (aside from making 11 of 22 3-point attempts) and defense (48 percent shooting allowed, 18 fastbreak points).
- Defense was the real problem for the Hawks, who never could put together any kind of sustained run because New York would easily get an open shot and make it.
- “Every time we tried to [rally], they made a big three or a big basket,” Al said. “It was a little demoralizing. We stayed with it, but we just didn’t have enough tonight.”
- The issues, like most times, started on the ball.
- “They run a ton of pick-and-rolls and we were trying to figure out the best coverages for it,” L.D. said. “They do a great job in the pick-and-roll with Felton and then they have a guy who is a forceful roller with Stoudemire. You have to defend the guard, you have to defend the big guy on the roll and then they spread out with shooters. It makes it tough for us. “
- Sounds like he pretty much just described the Celtics. Or the Bulls. Or the Magic. Shoot, take away the roll man but add two of the best screen-roll ball-handlers in the league and it’s the Heat.
- “We just had more individual breakdowns on a lot of simple things [like] transition defense, closeouts,” Drew said.
- “It’s kind of hard to really help, especially when they are knocking down the jump shot like tonight,” Smoove said. “We gave up too much dribble penetration and then we helped and were scrambling from that point on.”
- I’m thinking I can save time by putting the above three quotes in a macro file.
- At one point, a New York hack sitting next to me asked: “So, basically, whomever Bibby is guarding scores?” Me: “Not always. Sometimes his man passes to open shooters when everything breaks down, and they score.”
- Later from the hack: “If this team had a different point guard they could be so good.” I told him it was supposed to be Teague, and he asked: “Is he hurt or something?”
- I couldn’t decide if my blog people would have laughed or cried if you had heard that conversation.
- Al never really could get on track, though he dismissed his beef with Stoudemire as a factor: “I thought it was something small to begin with that he tried to blow it up and run with it. I think it was just a lot of talk. He didn’t say anything out there on the court. I went out there and played my game and he played his.”
- For the first time I can remember, Al complained about his touches. That’s odd since there have been plenty of other games when the Hawks did forget about him for long stretches but tonight he was involved.
- “I started to get touches a little later in the game as opposed to early or the start of the second half,” he said. “I didn’t get touches in the post like that so I could really get established.”
- I thought the Hawks might have been able to keep up if they had stuck with the post-ups. Joe and Marvin got into good position by backing down their men. Smoove got some drives at the basket and Bibby some good spot-up looks when passes came out of the post.
- The Hawks had trouble finishing at the basket, though, and instead of keeping at it, they went to their favored jump shots. That approach also quickened the pace.
- “We want to think inside out,” L.D. said. “Once you show you can attack inside they have got to collapse, they have got to double team. We missed some easy ones and then we started settling for outside shots, jump shots. On the road, it can be your demise. When they pressured us and sped us up some, we didn’t handle it well.”
- “We was rushing and they were giving us the jump shot,”Smoove said. “We weren’t able to knock them down tonight.”
- Especially not Josh (6 of 16) or Jamal (3 of 11). The latter forced things at times, as he tends to do when back in New York (usually with better results). He jacked a jumper on the baseline while double-teamed after the Hawks got within 74-65. They never recovered.
- The Hawks enter the All-Star break in fifth place in the East, a full game behind Orlando
- “I think we will come back re-focused and ready to go,” Al said. “I don’t think we are playing our best basketball yet. We are starting to be a little more consistent, we just have lapses like we did tonight. I hope we can get there.”
- I’m off to L.A. tomorrow, blog people. I’ll get back to blogging when I get out there.
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat