Archive for April, 2011

Atlanta Hawks: Pacers 114, Hawks 102

  • Indianapolis–The tone was set when the Pacers scored on their opening seven possessions and then rebounded their first two missed shots. “That was a clear indicator,” L.D. said. “We had no presence early. That was very glaring.”
  • This game reminded me of Stan Van Gundy’s warning to the Magic that they can’t go through the motions heading into the playoffs because they don’t have the same credibility as the Celtics, Lakers or Spurs. The Hawks don’t, either, and winning three out of four against the Magic didn’t do anything to change that.
  • The Hawks did come back and made it a competitive game but it never felt like they intended to win it. “I am hoping these guys are not looking at these games as games to take off and finish the season out,” Drew said. “These last four games are about fine tuning. That means we have to do things with a sense of urgency, with a passion, and like everything is on the line.”
  • None of the starters played more than 30 minutes. The bench players other …

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Atlanta Hawks at Pacers: Trying to change their rep

L.D. acknowledges these last four games “have very little meaning” in the big picture. Smoove is out, the starters won’t play their normal minutes and Drew said he would try out some unusual lineups.

Despite those circumstances, Drew said he wants to see the Hawks respond if they get down. The Hawks were pretty good at hanging in recently against Boston, Orlando, Houston and San Antonio but Drew thinks their rep still is that of a team that gives in when things get hard.

“I think that is kind of the word on us around the league, to be perfectly honest,” L.D. said. “It’s an area where we have to grow as a team. Because this game is about runs and withstanding runs by teams. Everybody gets on runs. That’s how the game is. It’s how you respond to it. That is an area where we really need to get better at.

“Our game against Boston, the commentators were making reference to that on the telecast. We were down eight, nine, 10 points. You could clearly see a run by Boston deflated us. …

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Atlanta Hawks: Practice report

Adding to the notebook that appears in print . . .

  • Al is of the mind that if he’s going to play, he might as well play his regular role: “We need to stay sharp. Being honest, one game sitting out, I don’t think it’s a bad idea. Especially Joe; he has little nick-nacks. He is not going to say anything but I know it would be good for him to get some rest. But at the same time we need to be in rhythm so I can understand why [L.D.] maybe just wants to reduce minutes. But we are still trying to win games.”
  • Twin and Smoove also suggested Joe is hurting more than he’s letting on, which obviously wouldn’t be the first time. Both mentioned the elbow could still be an issue. J.J. still frequently ices the right thumb.
  • Josh on he and Joe playing with nagging injuries: “Certain people have a high threshold for pain. We’d rather be out there playing than dealing with that training table and rehab. I think that’s more of a pressure. You really do more things doing that than on the court. …

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Atlanta Hawks: Postseason test near for Larry Drew’s offense

Expanding on this theme . . .

J.J. says he’s pretty much in the same boat as Jamal.

“It’s been different for both of us, honestly,” he said. “Just being that creator, that playmaker [and] that scorer. L.D. has pretty much put in his system how he wants implemented and run and we have to play in that system. It’s just part of it. We haven’t played one-on-one basketball or a lot of isolation like we’ve done in the past. So that’s definitely took away a little bit but for the most part we have had to adjust.”

Does he think there needs to be some adjustments to the offense for the postseason?

“I am not sure,” Joe said. “We will have to see. We went through the whole season like this. Maybe so, maybe not. Whatever the system is we have to come out and be professionals and play through it.”

How about it, Jamal?

“[He and Joe] have taken a step back offensively, hopefully for the betterment of the team,” he said. “But we will see. I think we will continue to need our scoring, …

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Atlanta Hawks: Spurs 97, Hawks 90

  • The Hawks lost to San Antonio and then watched the Celtics close out their W against the Sixers on the locker room TVs. Atlanta will be the No. 5 seed and face Orlando in the first round.
  • Now the question is how L.D. will manage these last four games. “I think if guys were to take games off, then I don’t think it should be the last two,” J.J. said. “If anything, a game in between. Those last two we have to be in tune and be in rhythm.”
  • After losing 14 of 21, the Hawks won four in a row, and now have lost two straight. Since the blowout L to Chicago the Hawks have managed seven competitive efforts in a row with grinding Ws against Orlando and Boston and defenseless Ls to Houston and San Antonio.
  • “I feel like it’s been good,” Al said. “I’m happy we are coming out and competing and playing hard, and it can go either way. Boston went our way; tonight it didn’t. We missed some shots. We had some opportunities.”
  • Parker and Ginobili are quick and crafty. They are tough to contain …

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Spurs at Atlanta Hawks: Rest vs. momentum

Josh (knee) is out. The starters are Hinrich, J.J., Marvin, Al and Twin.

Josh said he’s not sure how long he will sit but I’m thinking it could be more than one game if the Hawks clinch the five seed.

“We are just trying to get as much of the swelling out of it as we can and get it as strong as I can before the playoffs,” Josh said.

Keeping him out tonight appears to be the first lineup decision L.D. made with the long view in mind.

“With five games to go we want to try to get guys as healthy as we can going into the playoffs,” L.D. said. “I don’t think it’s a situation of if he really needed to play tonight, if this were the playoffs, he would probably play. But we have got to let the knee settle down and get him as healthy as we can going into the playoffs.”

The Hawks haven’t been nearly good or consistent enough to simply wind it down once they lock up the fifth seed. L.D. is playing the same health/rest/momentum balancing act as the Spurs and Magic, who also have had …

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Atlanta Hawks: Hinrich still trying to find fit in offense

My eyes tell me the Hawks are better defensively with Kirk Hinrich playing point guard instead of Mike Bibby. Your eyes probably believe the same.

The numbers disagree with us.

They say the Hawks have been slightly better on D with Hinrich on the bench than on the court (that includes all games this season). Of course, the numbers also could be used to make a case that Bibby was a solid defender for the Hawks, a proposition that does not come close to passing the eye test.

Aside: This reminds me of a post by Jeff Fogle at Hoopdata back in February, in which he argued there’s too much “noise” in regular-season defensive stats and concluded: “Don’t think about the correlation between regular season rankings (which can get polluted in a variety of ways), and postseason success as the key. Think about the defensive capabilities inherent with the roster of players in competition…when a championship is on the line…and try to assess that team’s ability to impose its will defensively …

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Atlanta Hawks: Rockets 114, Hawks 109

  • Well, so much for that. And that.
  • This looked nothing like the last two games for the Hawks. But then the Rockets are a better offensive team than either Orlando or Boston.
  • The Hawks were made to scramble as Kevin Martin and Kyle Lowry danced through their defense. Bibby isn’t out there anymore so that’s on Hinrich, J.J., Teague and Jamal.
  • “We gave up too many dribble-drives, too much dribble-penetration,” Smoove said. “They scored 56 points in the paint; that’s way too many. I think if we could have closed in some of those gaps and made them kick it out to shooters, it might have been a different outcome.”
  • Closing out harder on those shooters, especially Scola, might also have helped. So too would being patient and taking better shots so the Rockets couldn’t corral long rebounds and take off running.
  • The Hawks were up 63-49 and in control near halftime but Lowry beat them down the court for an and-1 and Martin did the same to set up Budinger’s layup. The Rockets kept running …

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Atlanta Hawks at Rockets: Clinching seed is the carrot

There’s a juicy carrot out there for the Hawks tonight.

Beat the Rockets and they clinch the No. 5 seed in the East. Clinch the No. 5 seed and then all of their tired bodies and minds might get a break over the final five games.

“I want to clinch before I even think about doing that,” L.D. said.

That’s some pretty good incentive.

“It should be for the guys,” Drew said. “A couple of weeks ago we were talking about it but kind of looking at how we were playing, looking at the schedule, it wasn’t a sure lock. Here we are with an opportunity to clinch it.”

No one can be blamed for not trusting the Hawks. A season’s worth of questions were not suddenly answered by two good efforts that included likely outliers like J.J. getting to the line, Josh draining tough jump shots and Zaza wrecking the team he likes to wreck most.

What L.D. thinks can most be duplicated is the focus and determination that allowed the Hawks to win ugly against good opponents.

“Probably the grind-em-out …

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Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 88, Celtics 83

  • The Hawks were down 60-49. They couldn’t score. J.J. dribbled out a possession and missed a forced 3-pointer over Rondo.
  • This is where you figured the Hawks would fold. That’s been there M.O. for over a month now. You could sense Hawks fans at Philips bracing for the inevitable.
  • Instead, the Hawks kept competing. They got stops. They rebounded. They earned free throws. They came back to beat a tough team with a tough effort.
  • “Third quarter it could have gone either way,” Al said. “Guys really stayed together, we took it a play at a time and we didn’t get discouraged. Instead of hanging our heads we focused more on defense. That’s a good sign. We are starting to figure it out.”
  • That’s two games in a row where the Hawks found it tough to score against opponents who play good D but managed to stick it out for a W. For all the fretting about the offense, could it be that the Hawks are finally developing a defensive identity that will allow them to win even when it’s not …

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