Atlanta Hawks: Blazers 97, Hawks 77
Portland–The Blazers were desperate for a W and played like it. The Hawks were just sort of out there once their shots stopped falling. “I thought we were a step slow on pretty much everything tonight,” Larry Drew said.
The Blazers are not a particularly good offensive rebounding team. Nicolas Batum is not an especially good rebounder. Neither of these things were apparent tonight, when Portland collected 15 offensive rebounds and scored 18 second-chance points.
It seemed as if the Blazers corralled every loose ball or got enough of them that they bounced off Hawks players out of bounds. Portland got a pretty good percentage of their offensive boards that way. “The bounces weren’t going our way but that’s when we have to be a little bit more desperate,” Josh Smith said. “They were making shots early on. Then we played some good defense and we have up long rebounds. That’s when we have to gang rebound.”
Josh and Zaza Pachulia each had 10 rebounds. The rest of the Hawks had seven. That’s seven total. “A lot of it is on the guards,” said Joe Johnson, who had three rebounds in 38 minutes after collecting three total in the previous four games. “We have to come down and help the bigs. There was a lot of long rebounds.”
Batum replaced Wesley Matthews in the starting lineup and went off for 22 points on 15 shots with eight boards in 35 minutes. “He’s been playing terrific this year,” Josh said. “This kid you have to respect especially when he’s making that jumper like tonight. He’s a streaky shooter but when he has it going he’s pretty tough matchup, especially with his length. He’s an outstanding defender, as well.”
LaMarcus Aldridge is a tough matchup, too. Josh was challenging Aldridge’s shots early but Aldridge was shooting over him anyway. Aldridge ended up needed 19 shots for his 19 points. “Aldridge got going earlyt, he made some jump shots, which was not very discouraging,” Drew said. “As long as he’s taking jump shots we are content with that.”
Raymond Felton was struggling until tonight. Jeff Teague missed 10 of 11 shots and Kirk Hinrich was 0 for 4.
I’m thinking Josh was referring to Teague when he said this: “This team is a long basketball team. Long and athletic just like us but a little longer. They have Marcus Camby who can still contest shots at a high rate. LaMarcus Aldridge is 6-11. Gerald Wallace, Batum flies around.When you get into that paint you have to be a distributor and drop some of those passes off, that way they will be reluctant to contest the shots and that’s when you have your easy running floaters or your layups. The first game we moved the basketball around and get easy looks for each other. After that first quarter, that was kind of nonexistent.”
It was late in a game the Hawks weren’t going to win but Josh stayed on the court and tried everything he could to get another assist for a triple-double. He didn’t get it when Ivan Johnson made a move before scoring after a feed under the basket from Smith, who was still lobbying for that assist after the game.
Willie Green was part of Atlanta’s only stretch of sustained offense in the first half. Joe managed 19 points on 17 shots despite missing 6 of 9 3-point tries.
Marvin Williams was making shots but only provided two rebounds in 25 minutes on a night when the Hawks badly needed boards.
The Hawks got in trouble when they tried to pass inside or across Portland’s zone. The Blazers got their hands on lots of those passes, leading to run-outs.
More and more Tracy McGrady goes inside looking for calls that aren’t coming. He ends up stuck and turning the ball over. Still, the Hawks needed some offensive flow and rebounding so they might have benefited from more than four minutes of T-Mac especially with Vladmir Radmanovic going 0 for 3 with one rebound in 23 minutes.
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat