Hope you enjoyed the game. Abysmal first half followed by an inspired second half, led by Al Horford.
- Hawks gave up 30 points in the second half. That’s their best in a half this season by five points. Chicago shot 30.6 percent and had nine turnovers in the half after 51.4 percent and seven in the first half. The Hawks would have done even better if they’d done a little better rebounding. Chicago had 10 offensive rebounds in the second half alone, leading to eight second-chance points.
- Horford had it in another gear – 31 points, 16 rebounds, including 9 of 12 in the second half. Larry Drew: “He was an absolute beast tonight. … He was our anchor tonight. During the timeouts, he was in the huddles cheering the guys, and just telling the guys to keep plugging.”
I thought it was an interesting observation on Drew’s part. I didn’t get to ask Horford this, but I would imagine that with Josh Smith not in the game and not even on the bench, he felt more comfortable being a vocal leader like that.
- On the game-winning pick and roll: Drew: “We knew that with Jamal, they would be concerned with him coming off of a screen. He came off of a screen earlier and they semi-trapped it and then they broke out of it and then Jamal just broke the guy down and got the ball to Marvin in the corner. I knew that they would be concerned and really focused on Jamal coming off the pick and roll, so we designed a play that brought him off and he made a great pass to Al and Al just had a forceful roll and a strong finish.”
It reminds me a little of his thought process in the play against the Clippers that resulted in Horford hammered by Blake Griffin. The Hawks had run a play just seconds before in which Joe Johnson inbounded to Horford, who handed off back to Johnson. Drew saw how the Clippers jumped on Johnson, so he called for a fake handoff to take advantage of the overpursuit.
- Hawks were awful in the first half – the Bulls were winning loose balls and getting to offensive rebounds (which continued in the second half) while the Hawks offense looked stiff. It wasn’t producing open shots and when Johnson and Crawford had to go one-on-one they weren’t converting at the rim.
- The very crucial play at the end where Johnson defended Derrick Rose with the tenacity of a college walk-on, leading to the bad pass to Rose from Carlos Boozer that led to Johnson’s dunk at the other end can be credited, in a way, to Kirk Hinrich and Jeff Teague.
In the past, as you well know, Johnson has logged plenty of minutes chasing point guards from the first quarter on. Hinrich had Rose most of the night, and Teague had him for a spell, allowing Johnson to go against Keith Bogans.
“That’s what I was telling Kirk and Jeff before the game,” Johnson said. “I was like, Y’all chase D-Rose around early and, come late, I’ll get him in the fourth and give it everything I’ve got. They did a great job. When I got my chance to guard him, I just wanted to make it tough on him.”
I think MC has addressed this, but one huge benefit of the Hinrich trade is that Johnson won’t have those minutes on point guards like he did in the past. I don’t think Johnson’s complaining.
- More on Hinrich – not a great offensive game (1 for 5, three points, two assists) but his value is in Rose’s numbers. Rose was 5 for 21, including 0 for 6 from 3-point range, with 12 assists against six turnovers. I’d say it was an off night for Rose, but Hinrich definitely helped.
- Horford had his first 3-pointer of the season, a corner ball that came out of the offense. Horford shoots them in practice and isn’t bad, particularly from the corners, but said that he hasn’t taken them because the team has other 3-point shooters. He felt free to take it Wednesday because he said Drew has never told him not to take one.
“My heels were at the 3 (line) so I said, ‘I might as well take a step back and I was in a rhythm and I feel confident taking that shot,” he said.
- Smith definitely was missed. Chicago had a bunch of dunks, particularly early, that you’d think Smith would have challenged.
Drew: “Josh, he’s kind of a kamikaze. You know in transition with him bringing the ball on the break that there’s a chance the ball could end up in the stands somewhere but you also know he’s capable of making plays. I’ve come to the point to live with that. When he gets the ball off the glass and brings it down on the break, we are in an attack mode. … His energy when he’s flying all over the court just makes us a much more effective ballclub.”
- Thanks to Najeh for pointing out at the end of the game thread that Kevin Durant turned his ankle Wednesday night. Durant said he’s hopeful he can go Friday against the Hawks.