I think this is a good time for me to hand the reins back to MC, because I think I felt better about the Hawks’ play than the Hawks did. I thought the Hawks did about as well as they could do, save a handful of bad possessions and getting mauled on the boards. The Lakers are just better and hot and there was no way around either.
“I can’t fault my team’s effort tonight,” Larry Drew said. “We ran against a really good team. We ran against a hot team.”
- I don’t know what the numbers are, but I’d be interested to know how many shots Al Horford and Josh Smith took in the paint. It’s funny – they actually outscored Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum 33-30 and won the assist category 9-8 – but to me, Gasol and Bynum won the game for the Lakers. They out-rebounded Smith and Horford 27-15 and I think Bynum set a tone in the first quarter when Bynum blocked Horford’s shot for the second time in the first 10 minutes of the game.
Phil Jackson: We didn’t want to give up as many fast-break points as we did, but we were able to overcome it with our size down low and the play of our big men tonight.”
Note: Bynum and Powell had a combined five inches and 55 pounds on Horford/Smith.
- If you’re wondering, Drew said he decided to go with the “regular” lineup rather than the big lineup with Jason Collins because they went that route in the first game and didn’t get enough offense from it. (Collins was 0-for-1 for 0 points in the first game, if you’re wondering, although Bynum only had five points.) (That was Mike Bibby’s last game. 0-for-3, 0 points, 0 assists, 1 rebound. Ouch.) With the team struggling offensively, Drew said he thought he had to go with Horford at center.
- The Hawks were intent on running the ball and, for the most part, I thought, stuck with the plan. Drew said he thought the team ran out of gas in the third quarter, when the Lakers distanced themselves with a 16-3 run.
“We tried to put a lot of emphasis on playing up-tempo,” he said. “It jus seemed like we ran out of gas at a bad stretch.”
Horford: “We started at the beginning with some energy but as the game wore on, we didn’t run with that intensity that we needed.”
The Hawks shot 7 of 12 on fast-break opportunities, which doesn’t strike me as very efficient.
- Some careless turnovers and bad shots. Kirk Hinrich threw the ball right at a Lakers player on one break. Marvin Williams tried a touch pass to Horford that he wasn’t ready for. Three (I think) shot clock violations and other shots thrown up to avoid violations. I think I saw Zaza Pachulia attempt a baseline fadeaway jumper.
- Hawks shot 33.3 percent over the last three quarters. I give the Lakers credit for that, mostly. They made the Hawks work so much on each possession. There were times when it felt to me like you were watching a 2 vs. 15 first-round NCAA game, where one team was trying its best but was just outmatched. The Lakers, going into the game, held opponents to 43.8 percent shooting, fifth best in the league. (You’ll be interested to know that the Bulls lead the league in that category, and I’m guessing will be smarting after losing to the Hawks at Philips last week.)
With Ron Artest defending him most of the time, Joe Johnson was 4-for-14 for 11 points.
Drew: “They’re a good defensive team, and they can take you out of your things.”
- Kobe Bryant passed Moses Malone for sixth place on the all-time scoring list. Bryant now has 27,423 points. Drew was an assistant with the Lakers when they made the draft-day trade for him.
Drew: “Here’s a young kid, 17 or 18 years old, and the talent was off the charts. It was just a matter of learning the NBA. It was a matter of understanding and picking his spots and learning to play the game on the NBA level. And he did that.”
This is not related to the Hawks, but I guess it’s easy to forget Charlotte drafted Bryant. I know Chris Paul/Deron Williams vs. Marvin Williams is agonizing for many of you, or perhaps all of you. But what about being a Charlotte fan and knowing your team traded away the greatest player of his generation?
Interesting read here.
- I asked Johnson about that foul that Bryant drew on him as he took a 3-pointer. If you saw the replays, you saw what a total acting job that was. Bryant rose up, Johnson didn’t bump him and Bryant somehow fell over. I guess you have to hand it to Bryant. If you’re going to get those calls, might as well do it. Johnson got uncharacteristically hot after that.
Anyway, Johnson: “I’m going to leave that alone.”
- This was interesting. Drew, in talking about the decision to go with the regular lineup, said the plan was to help Horford and Smith on Gasol and Bynum.
Johnson: “Defensively, I don’t think that we’ve had a game that we played like this in quite some time where we weren’t helping as much. Normally, our defense has been pretty good of late. I just thought we had a bunch of miscues defensively that cost us.”
- Despite their shortcomings, the Hawks had a chance late. They were down 90-82 after a 9-0 run with a little over five minutes to play when Hinrich took a 3-pointer that missed. It would have cut the lead to five points and perhaps it might have made the Lakers sweat a little. Instead, Hinrich missed and then here’s what followed. Shot clock violation. Hinrich missed a 3-pointer. Smith missed a jump shot. Johnson missed a running jumper and then Pachulia missed two follows and then Johnson traveled. Johnson missed a 3-pointer. By that point, the Lakers were back up 16 and there was less than 2:30 to play.
- Pachulia played well off the bench. He was unafraid going into the lane and finished with a team-high 10 rebounds in 22 minutes. He was on the floor for the final 14:10, which has to be some kind of record.
“He came in, played great,” Johnson said. “And that’s what we need from him.”
- This is the aggravating part. If they’d played like this against New York and Oklahoma City, I imagine they would have won both and this loss would have a different feel. Instead, it’s the third loss in a row with a trip to Chicago looming.
Drew: “We’ll keep plugging away.”
The hopeful Hawks fans among you, perhaps, see this as the start of the Hawks figuring out how to do things (again). Something tells me there aren’t a ton of those folks out there in blogland.
- I’m off to cover the SEC tournament and other sundry events. MC will be back freshened up and ready for the stretch run. Take care, blog people.