The Hawks lose on a night when losing seemed impossible

Mike Woodson and Jason Kidd after the bumping. (AP photo by Gregory Smith)

Mike Woodson and Jason Kidd after the bizarre bumping. (AP photo by Gregory Smith)

I kept asking the question, and nobody really had an answer. How do you lose this game? How do you lose on a night when you led by 13 points with 5 1/2 minutes left? How do you lose on the night you had played some of your best basketball in two months if not 20 years?

Said Al Horford: “We were at home. All the factors were lined up. I don’t think we’re the kind of team that blows a lead, even though we blew one at Golden State [on Sunday].”

They blew this 13-point lead even worse than they blew that 18-point lead. They blew this one as bad as a good team ever blows a game. They blew this because Dallas coach Rick Carlisle waited until the end to throw up a zone defense, and the Hawks’ coach waited until the final two minutes of regulation to get called for a personal foul.

OK, so technically it was a technical foul, but it involved a collision with a player. Mike Woodson bumped Jason Kidd while the Dallas guard was dribbling down the left sideline with the Hawks leading by two points. Kidd stuck out his elbow to draw contact, but there was no question Woodson was in the wrong.

Said Mike Bibby, who had answered two of Kidd’s three fourth-quarter treys with 3-pointers of his own: “[Woodson] was on the court.”

Said Woodson: “[Kidd] made a heck of a play. I’m not going to get into a [spitting] match with him … He did what he had to do, and it didn’t favor our team. I’ve got to take the hit for it.”

Instructive choice of words: Take the hit.

Horford again: “It was tough. Jason Kidd really changed things for them.”

Kidd is 36, a half-dozen years past his prime, but he willed his team to this victory in a way reminiscent of a young Earvin Johnson. Kidd’s line: 19 points, 17 assists, 16 rebounds. He shrugged off a wretched third quarter — he took eight shots, missing seven — and over the final five minutes of regulation had nine points, three assists and four rebounds.

And where were the Hawks? Missing their shots, missing their composure, missing in action. Over the game’s final 10 1/2 minutes (counting overtime) they scored 13 points. The Mavs dusted off their zone — Jamal Crawford: “They saved it for the end; that was smart on their part” — and the Hawks could do nothing against it.

Horford: “They couldn’t guard us one-on-one.”

But that’s the point. The Mavs overrode their weakness. As Woodson noted, the Hawks “controlled the game until the six- or seven-minute mark.” Then they threw it away.

Let’s not sugarcoat it. This was a bad, bad loss. Aired on ESPN, it offered the Hawks a chance to prove their bona fides against one of the best teams from the West, and they played really well up until the point where they fell flat.

“We’ve been blowing some leads,” Woodson said, and the inability for a basketball team to close out a game is as crushing as a baseball club that hands the ball to its closer and watches him blow the  save.

“We’re a team that can handle adversity,” Crawford said. “We’ll bounce back.”

As bold as those words were, they rang hollow this night. A really good team doesn’t lose games like this, and that’s what the Hawks aspire to become and, for tantalizing stretches, seem to be. But how do you lose on a night when a technical foul against your coach for brushing the opposing point guard is the difference between winning in regulation and walking off with various manifestations of egg — scrambled, poached, everything except sunny-side-up — on your face.

Said Josh Smith: “You can’t lose a game like that.”

No, you can’t. But they did.

222 comments Add your comment

todd grantham

February 26th, 2010
9:47 pm

your loyal blogger, todd

todd grantham

February 26th, 2010
9:47 pm

i wasted some great material on the blog.

todd grantham

February 26th, 2010
9:50 pm

Mark, what’s with all the boxing analogies?

todd grantham

February 26th, 2010
9:54 pm

you must have expected Woodson and Kidd to square off.

Athens local

February 26th, 2010
9:55 pm

Kidd must have mistaken Woodson for Joumana. Looked like he was trying to break ribs again.

Done with GA sports

February 26th, 2010
9:56 pm

It’s amazing how there are no good sports teams in Georgia. Not in college and definitely not in the Pros. It’s sickening and I think it’s time just to move out of this state after 30 years. What a joke. Every team we have CHOKES. How is that possible?

tyler

February 26th, 2010
10:01 pm

Another embarrassing meltdown on national tv. Besides the Cavs- we are the most talented team in the East and yet we won’t be any higher than a 4 seed (although I’m thinking 5). If we bow out in the 1st round this year- is that all she wrote for Woodson? Should be……

todd grantham

February 26th, 2010
10:02 pm

Mark, dont let the naysayers get you down. woodson cant hang this loss on you.

TechMan

February 26th, 2010
10:03 pm

First of all Woodson was out of bounds when he was hit. How was that a technical. on Woodson. Secondly, did they review the play to determine if Woodson was on the court, I didn’t think that was a reviewable play. Should protest. I hope the NBA suspends Kidd for the rest of the season. That’s what happened to the last player(Ron Artest) that attacked someone that wasn’t a player in the game

Ree Roe

February 26th, 2010
10:04 pm

Mark,

I pin the blame for this loss on a lack of a developed bench that outside of Jamal bears no impact on the game, an extremely worn out starting 5 who all played a ton of mins tonight & Mike Woodson, who I believe is coaching his way out of ATL. What say you Mark?

-REEally it’s Roe!!!

jeffrey d

February 26th, 2010
10:07 pm

It was a heads up play by Kidd and a stupid play by Woodson. Even if he was out of bounds, he should have never made it that close.

Hate Kidd for it if you want, but if Bibby had done the same thing we’d all be praising him.

LY Munz

February 26th, 2010
10:08 pm

That loss was even worse than the Golden State loss. Blowing a 13 point lead in the span of 90 seconds in the 4th quarter is absolutely inexcusable. Just such a disgrace. Mark, please give me some reasons why we should be behind this team when it is so clear where their deficiencies are and when it is so obvious that they will once again flame out in the 2nd round of the playoffs. Anybody seriously considering a trip to the Eastern Conference finals is fooling themselves big time.

Woodson’s lack of a brain hurt this team again even if Kidd’s actions were bush league, if Bibby had done that to Carlisle we would be praising him. Never calling a timeout during their run was so atypical of Woodson that I was shocked, and of course this time it hurt us whereas when he does call to’s they normally hurt us.

Marvin once again did nothing but hit some wide open shots. Anytime he attempts to penetrate I would be willing to in game wager my house on him losing the ball or getting blocked.

Crawford missed numerous wide open 3’s. Bibby got shy after hitting 2 huge ones in the 4th.

JJ once again failed to show up when the game was on the line.

Woodson once again failed to draw up proper plays. Smoove and Horford our the only guys on our team who you know will give you certain things every night, even if they struggle every now and then I can live with it.

The rest of this team is useless, and as Hubie said, Joe smith needs more minutes as do numerous others on the bench(See: Teague, Jeff; Evans, Maurice) . Just a brutal brutal loss.

Mark, if you do write a column on this game, please ask Moron Sund how he can be confident that this core can ever compete for a title. I am so tired of this city’s organizations being content with a good but not great team. This team has ZERO chance of a title in the next 5 years especially after JJ leaves, yet Sund likes to say “we like our core” as if there is some future success readily apparent. SO disgusted and so disappointed.

I will never lose faith in ATL teams, but at the same time, I hope people stop bashing the fans here and start understanding that we have been conditioned to not get to high about any team and basically realize that they will eventually accomplish nothing.

GTALLDAWAY

February 26th, 2010
10:10 pm

if Bibby had done it then he would have been the one with the technical foul…

Mark Bradley

February 26th, 2010
10:11 pm

I’m adding quotes and stuff to this post for print purposes, but I’ll be back with you soon. Players are stunned, you should know. Woodson is stunned.

toni

February 26th, 2010
10:13 pm

i said and now repeat need a new coach or they will be out in the first round of playoff.

GTALLDAWAY

February 26th, 2010
10:14 pm

actually kidd was just doing a heat check

Mr. Turnip-Green Jeans

February 26th, 2010
10:15 pm

Hawks don’t have the toughness, mental or physical, to go to the highest level. They need a bruiser, an enforcer, first and foremost.

jeffrey d

February 26th, 2010
10:15 pm

Woodson is stunned.

I think it was a week ago that he said he underused his bench. So what happens over the next few games? Overworked starters and 4th quarter collapses! This is getting worse than Bobby and Greg Norton.

Thekid2Kill

February 26th, 2010
10:18 pm

I don’t see my comment, why?

Not Don Waddell

February 26th, 2010
10:19 pm

Another loss pissed away. This team has peaked out with Woody at the helm. He usually loses games with mental errors. Tonight he physically lost the game. What a boob.

dub366

February 26th, 2010
10:20 pm

I’ve been saying all alone we need a coach Rick I don’t know what you are waiting on. Keeping Woody is a big mistake. Harford was Having a bad night ,but he log almost 50 min while Joe Smith only 7.Why did we pick him up just to ride the beach

cdog

February 26th, 2010
10:20 pm

TIME AFTER TIME I HAVE DEFENDED MIKE WOODSON BUT TONIGHT I SAW PLENTY OF STUPIDITY ON HIS PART AS A COACH ALONG WITH RICK SUND AS AN OWNER.FIRST OF ALL, I’M SEEING TIME AFTER TIME, LEADS ARE BEING LOST ON STUPIDITY ON WOODSON PART AS A COACH.TIME AFTER TIME I’M WONDERING WHY EITHER H. O.R.S.E. TYPE SHOTS ARE THROWN UP BY CRAWFORD, JOHNSON, AND HORFORD.THEN IN CRUCIAL MOMENTS, JOSH SMITH ALL OF PEOPLE IS LAUNCHING THREES IN CRUNCH TIMES WHEN POINTS ARE NEEDED.HE IS NOT A JUMP SHOOTER.WHEN TEAMS GO TO ZONES YOU HAVE TO ATTACK INSIDE BUT BECAUSE STUBBORN RICK SUND DOES NOT PROVIDE A BIG MAN WHO CAN SCORE INSIDE I GUESS THEY WIND UP LAUNCHING LONG SHOTS.THIS IS WHERE THE COACH NEEDS TO FIND A WAY TO GET THE BALL INSIDE.TONIGHT, I GIVE THIS ONE TO WOODSON.

todd grantham

February 26th, 2010
10:22 pm

I’m stunned at my alacrity at being first.

Mr. Turnip-Green Jeans

February 26th, 2010
10:22 pm

It’s one’a them phantom-comment deals, kid.

dub366

February 26th, 2010
10:22 pm

dub366

February 26th, 2010
10:24 pm

why my comment wasn’t posted.

scottbravesfan

February 26th, 2010
10:26 pm

Woodson has got to go. In the NBA and the NHL that is the easiest way to light a fire under your team is to get rid of the coach.

ET.

February 26th, 2010
10:26 pm

Ummmm…Dawgs2010, I’m not sure that’s really a good thing to say. What did Jasons wife have to do with him throwing an elbow at Woodson, who by the way should have decked Kidd and kicked him in the balls and then went after his dad and kicked him in the balls also…

Mr. Turnip-Green Jeans

February 26th, 2010
10:28 pm

Y’all don’t like J Kidd, do you? You’re being kinda vague..

tony

February 26th, 2010
10:29 pm

@ dawgs 2010….stay classy.

The reason the technical was called, even though woodson was out of bounds, is because he wasn’t in his designated area.

I dont agree with the call at all, and I am as mad as any hawks fan at Kidd, but what dawgs2010 just said is horrible.

Astro Joe

February 26th, 2010
10:29 pm

Mark, maybe Woody and Hewitt could switch jobs. How’d you like that?

joeBjoe

February 26th, 2010
10:30 pm

actually ET somebody should kick Woody in the balls for being so dumb. he should never yell at anyone ever again after that bone head move, interfering with the game in progress. even a moron knows you can’t do that.

Thekid2Kill

February 26th, 2010
10:30 pm

NBA'er

February 26th, 2010
10:30 pm

That technical call was horrible. Woodson had successfully retreated to the sidelines and Kidd threw a forearm into him. The gutless ESPN announcers, even with the benefit of replay, couldn’t make the right call. Truly pathetic officiating.

dub366

February 26th, 2010
10:30 pm

I said all along that Woody need to go. Horford had a bad game ,but log all the min. about 50.where Joe Smith only 7. what you got him to ride the beach.It just don’t make any sense to me woody this fool DON’T KNOW HOW TO WIN .Bottom line

Jesse

February 26th, 2010
10:31 pm

Maybe if we played some subs in the 4th quarter our starters wouldn’t have been so worn out that their jumpers in OT would be short. Joe Smith, Mo and Zaza should have got at least a couple of minutes to spare the starters. And why did it till the end of OT to realize they need to penetrate the ZONE?

NBA'er

February 26th, 2010
10:31 pm

Nice call dogs2010….NOT. Way to keep the thought alive that Dog fans are redneck.

Im sund too

February 26th, 2010
10:32 pm

looooooooooooooool @Dawgs2010

Bangkapi Ajarn

February 26th, 2010
10:32 pm

Watching this game on TV in Illinois, my immediate reaction was thinking that Woody may have blown a close game. Which turned out to be the case. The other teams POINT GUARD had a higher Basketball IQ than the hawks coach!!! When your coach loses you games, creating a negative synergy, it must cause thought by ownership – assuming ownership is not STILL locked in such a paralysis that inertia makes most of the key decisions that involve money.
Sad.

Vol4ever

February 26th, 2010
10:32 pm

Hawks are lacking mental toughness. That is two blown big leads in a week.

TechMan

February 26th, 2010
10:34 pm

Yeah I’m disgusted with Kidd as well but Dawgs2010 comment should be removed as well as Thekid2kill. Also that’s fine if he was out of designated area, but did they have to review it to to make the call, if so that wasn’t a reviewable foul. Finally Shouldn’t Kidd have been given a technical for elbowing someone out-of-bounds.

Mr. Turnip-Green Jeans

February 26th, 2010
10:35 pm

Shoot, I didn’t even know that ESPN announcers were officiating games now. What’ll they thank of next?

UGAKev

February 26th, 2010
10:43 pm

I BELIEVE THE HAWKS NEED TO BRING IN A COACH THAT WILL TAKE US TO THE NEXT LEVEL.WE LET SOME GAMES SLIP AWAY WE SHOULD WIN.

PJ

February 26th, 2010
10:43 pm

I did not see the game but heard on the Radio that the hawks were up by 11 with 8 mins to go, yet I went to AJC.com to see if they held on to win while all the time I was doubting they would. It is so difficult to be comfortable with a big lead by any of our teams, take Georgia a night ago and all season the same with the Hawks and whenever Tech losees it is by two points. I don’t believe this can be blamed on coaching, it is a case of the super stars on these teams not stepping forward in the clutch.

Stop Crying '10

February 26th, 2010
10:53 pm

Lets go mavs. it was only a matter of time before ur strategy of jackin up 3s cost u. hawks??? more like a bunch of hummingbirds

Mark Bradley

February 26th, 2010
10:57 pm

You can’t bump a player when he’s inbounds. Period. Even if he sticks his arm out. You just can’t.

Astro Joe

February 26th, 2010
10:59 pm

Actually, the Hawks have been very resilient this year. I’m pretty sure that they have followed just about every really wretched loss with a win (including the most recent debacle against the Warriors).

But let’s face facts, the game was lost with our inability to solve a simple zone defense… not because Kidd got a blocking foul called on Woody.

dstdeelite

February 26th, 2010
11:01 pm

Way to kick them when they’re down, MB…..You’re making it sound much worse than it actually was. It was a very good game. We came out on the losing end, but what’s the used in harping on. Golden State was a whole different ball game that I care not to discuss.

Mark Bradley

February 26th, 2010
11:02 pm

I’m sorry. I don’t think it’s possible to make this one sound worse than it was. It was an awful loss.

dstdeelite

February 26th, 2010
11:03 pm

Well said Astro Joe…..That’s what we should be angry about….the inability to counter the zone defense. It isn’t the first time we’ve been defeated in this manner.