Atlanta Hawks: Suns 105, Hawks 97
Phoenix–The news of the trade shouldn’t overshadow the fact that the Hawks are suddenly reeling. That’s three straight Ls and five of six with Golden State (tough matchup), Portland (tough team) and Denver (tough building even without Melo) still to go on this trip.
- Zaza was held out as the Hawks continued trade discussions. I’m thinking any swap would be big for big but no word yet on the details of the teams/players involved.
- But first some more reaction to the trade that did go down. . . .
- L.D. said the Hawks had been calling around on point guards for the last couple weeks.
- “As everybody knows we’ve been searching for a point guard for a while, somebody who can come in and run this club,” he said. “Not saying that Mike didn’t go a good job, but there just comes a point where a change has to take place. We as an organization felt like it was that time.”
- L.D. on Hinrich: “Kirk brings such a wealth of toughness at that position. He’s a heady guy, he’s a smart guy. All the intangibles you are looking for he brings to the table.”
- Jamal: “It’s tough to tell now [how the trade will work]. Mike was the leader at point guard for a while. Jordan has a bright future. Mo is just solid, gives you defense and 3-point shooting. But I played with Kirk Hinrich [in Chicago] and I know what he’s about.”
- Bibby was a popular teammate. He has a goofy personality and saw it as his job to keep the team loose (though I think the Hawks could end up benefiting from Hinrich’s more serious approach).
- It’s a business, of course, but there was a real sense of personal loss in Atlanta’s locker room.
- “Any time you make trades, it’s always tough, especially when you grow close and attached to players,” Drew said. “But that’s just the nature of this business. It just comes with the territory.”
- Bibby, Mo and JC2 were informed they might be part of a trade and stayed behind at the team’s hotel. Word trickled through the rest of the team but players weren’t told of the pending deal until just before game time
- Al: “It’s just tough for us right before the game to get this news. It’s kind of not unexpected since we’d heard but to hear it just actually happened . . .”
- Joe: “We let three good guys go who I had become really good friends with. But at the same time we understand the business aspect and this is the profession we chose knowing that trades happen. You have to deal with it. Getting Kirk and Armstrong is definitely going to contribute to what we are trying to do. Kirk is very defensive-minded and a guy who can really knock down the open shot and penetrate and make plays for others as well. I think he is going to be beneficial for us.”
- Moving Jordan and the first-round pick is the latest indication the Hawks, when push comes to shove, are more focused on making moves they think will help now vs. player and asset development in the future. I’m sure opinions vary on that approach among my blog people but, as I always say, the Hawks will be judged on what happens this postseason.
- Al: “Jordan, as short as time he was here, we know he has a lot of potential.”
- Drew on Armstrong: “He’s a big body. He’s athletic. He bangs. I like the fact he’s a guy who plays hard. You can’t have enough type of those guys.”
- Josh on Armstrong: “I think in the paint he can block some shots and be able to add that inside presence and help us out down there a little bit. When we played against them he was a effective in a couple of games.”
- Now on to the game . . .
- The Hawks rallied from 18 down to tie it at 92-92 with five minutes left. The Suns closed them out by winning the kind of possession-by-possession sequences in which the Hawks tends to falter. Not a good idea to get into a shootout with the Suns, who made 10 of 14 shots in the fourth.
- Perhaps it would have been different at the end without the big deficit or a back-to-back but it’s an L all the same.
- “It’s tough to spot a team 18 points and having to fight back, especially a team like Phoenix,” Drew said. “They shoot the ball so well, particularly from the 3-point line (13 for 26). We exerted a lot of energy to get back and I thought our guys wore down at the end.”
- The Hawks started switching on every screen, an approach that they theoretically should be able to scrap with Hinrich on the floor.
- “We couldn’t get [stops],” Josh said. “We ended up switching. Nash is a smart point guard. He knew where the mismatches were. Tip your hat to Channing Frye, he hit some tough shots on Damien. Damien was all over him but when you are 6-10, 6-11 you get that ball in position you want it’s kind of hard to block the shot.”
- Jamal’s scoring and Damien’s defense helped the Hawks get back in it. Jamal made five straight shots but didn’t have an attempt from 6:53 of the fourth until a meaningless layup in the final seconds. “I’m getting back to being me, for sure,” he said.
- Teague got his second career start was noticeably more decisive in driving the ball. Finishing was another matter though he still was 3 for 6 from the field and 3 for 3 from the line.
- “I thought he came out aggressive in attack mode and used his speed and quickness,” Drew said. “We need that. I thought he did a tremendous job breaking the defense down and getting to the basket. That’s the way he has to play. Don’t worry about turning the basketball over, just keep the pressure on the defense.”
- After 10 nights on the road I’m officially on the injured list (shoulder) after a bench press mishap in the gym yesterday. It’s after the All-Star break so I’ve got to push through it. Hurts like hell to lug around bags but I refuse to take the L of getting on one of those old folks carts at the airport tomorrow.
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat