Atlanta Hawks: Bulls 76, Hawks 74
Chicago–The Hawks so thoroughly dominated the Bulls for 33 minutes the United Center turned on the home team. Then Derrick Rose got off, the fans got live and the Hawks wilted under the pressure. They blew a chance to become the talk of the East for a few days.
- “The most important thing for us this early in the season is that we learn from it,” Larry Drew said. “We are going to be in these type positions a lot more times and it’s important to learn from it. When you are on the road, 19 points is nothing. It can be chipped away very easily. We made some mistakes with that 19-point lead that gave them hope. You can’t do that with a good team. Chicago is a very explosive team and with Rose on the floor anything can happen.”
- At the same time Rose got hot, Atlanta’s reserves got stagnant. Jannero Pargo’s 3 was more of an isolation heave than any kind of set play. Vladimir Radmanovic missed a rushed shot and Rose answered with a 3-pointer. Zaza Pachulia got stripped of the ball by Luol Deng, who went in for a layup on the break to cut it to 59-54.
- There wasn’t any one thing that lost the game for the Hawks but clearly that sequence made it a tight game after they were in control. This was a night when the bench didn’t have it, Rose was staring to take over and the Hawks have a rest day tomorrow.
- Still, the starters should have had their legs back after that break but they had miscues down the stretch, too. When Drew called a timeout to get the starters back in, Jeff Teague promptly forced a driving shot that Omer Asik blocked.
- The Hawks never had a consistent offensive flow in the final quarter. They did get a couple lob dunks but those were canceled out by lots of standing around, too much one-on-one by Joe Johnson, a couple Josh Smith jumpers (he did make a big one) and missed free throws. “We definitely got stagnant,” Drew said. “We were put in a lot of situations where there was low time on the clock. We didn’t get organized like we should. We will learn from it.”
- “I thought we passed up a lot of shots, honestly,” Johnson said. “I thought guys were passing up shots and trying to get another shot and it was leading to bad shots and turnovers.”
- The Hawks missed 11 of 25 free-throw attempts, including 6 of 10 in the fourth quarter. Three of those misses came in the final 17.5 seconds, with two from Teague and one from Horford.
- “I don’t know how I missed those free throws,” Teague said. “It happens. It will probably get at me for the rest of the night but I will be all right. It happens in basketball. Guys miss shots all the time. When I get home I will probably watch the game and try to move on from there.”
- Probably fatigue played a factor in the missed free throws. “No question about it,” Horford said. “We weren’t good from the line tonight. Normally we are a good free-throw shooting team. I myself missed a couple. We weren’t knocking them down like we should. Other than that I felt like we played a great game. We were right there with them. We dominated them for most of the game. Just Derrick Rose happened.”
- When Rose is pulling up and making 3s it’s a tough task to slow him down. “When he came out hitting those 3s in the second half, it’s hard to guard,” Teague said. “He has the green light to pull at any time and his team knows that. When he gets to hitting them, his confidence is up and now you are worried about him shooting threes. They were playing loose. They were down and they were just fighting to get back. No shot was a bad shot.”
- I thought Smith was good with the help defense on Rose but Rose got a couple calls. “I think we did a good job on defense,” Josh said. “We understood that with the lead they were going to be able to get to the free-throw line pretty much on anything. We expected it coming in and it’s just disappointing to see the lead decreased like that.”
- Deng slipped behind the defense thanks to a pick by Rose and confusion by the Hawks. “I was kind of covering the ball with Joakim [Noah],” Horford said. “We all assumed the ball was going to come back to Rose and we were going to trap. That was a great play by them, by their coach, to take the pressure from Rose and hit Deng on the backdoor. We didn’t expect that at all so that’s a great play by them. I think we just fell asleep on the back line.”
- “We had multiple options,” Tom Thibodeau said. “Obviously we were trying to get the ball to Derrick. They did a good job of taking away the first two options. Derrick set a great screen and Joakim made a great pass and Luol made a great cut.”
- On the final play the inbound pass went to Horford far away from the basket and Johnson got off an awkward 3-point try at the buzzer that missed. Johnson was 3 for 17, including 1 for 5 in the fourth quarter. I wonder if back-to-backs make his thumb flare-ups worse. It probably also didn’t help that he checked Rose at times (and was fairly effective at it for stretches).
- Teague was chasing Rose off screens a lot and wasn’t able to affect him in isolation, either. He was better than Pargo, though.
- Smith was all over the boards and made Chicago work for everything in the paint. But there was one fast break in which Teague passed out to Johnson in the corner instead of hitting Smith in the lane (does any team do that more then the Hawks?). Smith got frustrated and gave up on the play. If he’d stayed with it, he would have had a putback of Johnson’s miss.
- Marvin Williams (14 points on 10 shots, eight rebounds) had another solid game but he threw the ball away when the Hawks had a 71-70 lead. At some point Drew probably is going to have to figure out a way to keep Marvin in the game along with Tracy McGrady. Maybe someone else comes out instead.
- Vladimir Radmanovic made his first shot, a 3-pointer, and then missed his next three. By now it’s clear Willie Green is going to shoot when he gets in so the Hawks have to hope there are more 2-for-4s than 0-for-6s. Zaza Pachulia kept getting the ball late in the shot clock in bad position and at one point appeared to tell Green that’s not cool.
- McGrady said he banged his left knee during the Miami game and has a bone bruise: “We will see how it feels over the next couple days. It felt like [crap] today.” He drove to the basket against the Bulls but kept looking for calls that weren’t coming. McGrady had three turnovers against two assists but did get six rebounds in his 15 minutes. In addition to his length, McGrady has a feel for how the ball is going to come off the rim.
- The Hawks earned a split at Miami and Chicago and get another shot at both teams during the back-to-back-to-back.
- “I was planning to win both of them,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately we came up short tonight in a game we felt like we should have won. For whatever reason it got away from us. We didn’t come up with the big plays down the stretch.”
- “We can feel disappointed that we let this one get away from us we have nothing to hang our heads over,” Drew said. “I thought we played hard and played well for three quarters and we seemed to run out of a little bit of staem in that fourth quarter. We didn’t defend the way we did the first three quarters.”
- “We know we can play with the best of the best,” Smith said. “Obviously this was a disappointing loss but we can’t hang our heads. We have to know we can play anybody. These are the top two teams in the Eastern Conference last year.”
- “Obviously we can play with anybody,” Teague said. “We had them down 19. They made some plays. They made shots. Our defense was playing great; they just made some shots. They came back and stole one from us.”
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat