Atlanta Hawks: Spurs 105, Hawks 83
- The Hawks are deeper than last season but the bench didn’t look so good against a team like the Spurs. This time Larry Drew decided not to ride ride his starters once it became clear the reserves had little to offer.
- Hawks starters other than Jeff Teague weren’t anything great offensively but at least they played some defense. The Spurs made 31 of their 50 twos and 11 of their 23 threes. It felt like 20 of those twos came off cuts to the basket or roll men.
- Matt Bonner is a good 3-point shooter. The Hawks allowed him to get off seven attempts (only one was challenged that I remember) and he made five.
- “We had some defensive breakdowns to allow them to get some good looks at the 3,” Larry Drew said in a postgame interview with SportSouth’s Jerome Jurenovich. “In most cases we do a pretty good job defending the 3. Time and time again we kept losing people. At the same time, you have to tip your hat to the Spurs for the things they ran and the things they exploited.”
- This was another game that highlighted Atlanta’s lack of length (Ivan Johnson) and athleticism (Zaza Pachulia) in the middle. Atlanta’s centers did their best to tangle with Tim DuncanTiago Splitter and DeJuan Blair but that’s a lot of size and skill.
- Duncan, Spliiter and Blair combined for 39 points and 22 rebounds in 73 minutes, shot 16 of 25 from the field and had 10 of San Antonio’s 15 free-throw attempts. The Atlanta trio of Zaza, Ivan and Josh Smith: 26 points and 13 rebounds in 68 minutes, 11 of 27 from the field and six of Atlanta’s 10 free-throw attempts.
- Zaza actually did a respectable job checking Duncan (after he also was good vs. Andrew Bogut) because he seemed to frustrate Duncan with his grappling. Ivan struggled to defend down low (but did get a couple blocks). Zaza and Josh Smithprovide the only resistance for Atlanta around the basket against opponents with any kind of skilled size.
- Teague was the catalyst during Atlanta’s comeback in the second quarter and not just because he had his floater working. He gave Tony Parker fits defensively with his quick hands, nicely set up Zaza (who got fouled) and Joe (who missed an open 3) and started the break that led to Josh’s and-1. Teague had no assists but it wasn’t for lack of trying to get guys good shots.
- “Jeff has really been playing well for us,” Drew said. “He was able to match speed-for-speed with [Tony] Parker.”
- The times Smith made up his mind to attack the basket he often spun right into Splitter/Duncan/San Antonio’s zone or fumbled the ball away. I’m not sure why he was arguing that charging call that led to a T.
- Joe Johnson missed some shots on clean catches, couldn’t get anything going Iso and then seemed to lay back in the second half. He did make some good passes off drives and out of doubles while earning seven assists.
- Kirk Hinrich made his season debut and looked surprisingly smooth at times (some nice catch-and-shoots) , a bit ragged at others (simply losing the ball for a turnover). “I was very encouraged by Kirk’s performance tonight,” Drew said. “I thought he would come back winded. He played with a nice rhythm and his shot looked good.”
- If tonight is an indication, and you never can tell sometimes with Drew, Hinrich will get most of his minutes at point guard. That would mean Jannero Pargo slides to the end of the rotation while Willie Green stays put.
- It was another “Tracy McGrady, Playmaker” night. You can see that his mind is way ahead of his body.
- Ivan Johnson shows hard off screens, which is good, but he tends to linger too long on the perimeter and fails to get back to his man in time. He’d be a much better pick-and-roll defender if he had more awareness in that situation because he’s certainly quick enough to cover a lot of ground after the show.
- Radmanovic’s minutes in the power rotation provided evidence of why he belongs on the wing. Then again, his defensive awareness and energy on the perimeter leaves him vulnerable to giving up unchallenged 3s (See Bonner, Matt). Vlad Rad now appears to be in some kind of funk.
- Word is the Hawks won’t practice tomorrow in Detroit. Hoping I can still find a way to catch up with them before Friday’s shootaround.
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat