Even in a tepid Game 2, the Hawks make the No. 1 seed work

On cue, the Bulls defended harder in Game 2. (AP photo)

On cue, the Bulls defended harder in Game 2. (AP photo)

Chicago – Once again the Hawks had seized a series lead, and once again the opponent was essentially calling them front-runners. After Wednesday morning’s shootaround, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said: “That’s who they are. When they shoot the ball well, they’re a very confident team.”

The flip side: If you feel good about yourself only when you’re hitting, what happens when you miss? Do you melt into a little round puddle, like the Wicked Witch of the West, with only your sneakers left as residue?

The Bulls believed their Game 1 loss was a function not of what the Hawks did, but what they were allowed to do. Thibodeau again: “They made some shots early, and it gave them confidence. When a team does that, it’s hard to slow down.”

That’s true. And the Hawks are pretty good at getting ahead: In the first seven games of this postseason, they had a double-figure lead in six. (This surely trumps falling behind by 30, which the Hawks did too many times during their indifferent regular season.) But the respect they believe should be flowing their way after this surprising playoff success has been slow in arriving, and their reputation is why.

You know the story. Ryan Anderson of the Magic told reporters: “If things aren’t really going their way, they’re going to struggle a little bit.” An Orlando Sentinel columnist referred to the Hawks as fragile and christened them the Birdbrains. And even after authoring the most impressive performance in years in whipping the Bulls in Game 1, the Hawks still had to fight perception.

Would they, believing they already had the road victory they wanted, roll over in Game 2 the way they had in Game 5 against Orlando? Would they be able to hang close when the Bulls ratcheted up their defense, as you knew they would? (Asked if the Bulls would seek to put more pressure on the fill-in point guard Jeff Teague, Thibodeau said: “Some would be nice.”)

Game 2 began rather differently. The Hawks, who scored 51 points in Monday’s first half, managed only 38 this night. They made 51.3 percent of their shots in Game 1; in the first half of Game 2, they made 32.6 percent. Only a 12-point half from Teague, who might not have played in this series had Kirk Hinrich not gotten hurt, kept them within hailing distance.

“We were our own worst enemy tonight,” Larry Drew would say afterward. “They played us aggressively. When our shots didn’t fall, we panicked.”

Kind of like what other folks had been saying all along, huh?

But wait:  Down 11 after a tepid half, the Hawks were nonetheless close enough to make a surge. Joe Johnson scored nine points in the third quarter, and Josh Smith awoke from one of his walkabouts to block a Carlos Boozer layup and run the floor and score. Down 14 midway through the period, the Hawks cut it to seven on Smith’s stickback of a Jamal Crawford miss and Teague’s foul shots after a backcourt steal. With 12 minutes left, this game had been rendered winnable.

Derrick Rose’s drive pushed the lead back to nine. A Teague twister off a loose ball made it seven again. But Kyle Korver, the standstill shooter who missed his first five casts, made a 3-pointer at the shot-clock buzzer. Crawford lost the ball on a drive, and Johnson did the same. Rose found Boozer underneath. Now it was a 13-point margin, and the Hawks were in scramble mode.

They kept coming, though. Al Horford made a baseline jumper. Smith converted a three-point play underneath. Teague made a one-hander from the key. The deficit was six with 4:02 remaining, and the No. 1 seed had to be wondering, “Why aren’t these front-runners folding?”

Finally the comeback went splat. Johnson threw the ball out of bounds, then missed a jumper. Smith missed a trey — he had to shoot it; Johnson passed to him with the clock dying — and Luol Deng scored twice inside. The series was level.

“To lose by 12 points [13, actually] on an MVP night [Rose was presented the award before the game] and this a desperation night for them,” Crawford said, recounting the evening. Then: “We were still right there. We took their best shot.”

Truth to tell, the Hawks saw nothing in Game 2 that should make them think they can’t beat the Bulls a few more times. They shot poorly. Horford was badly outplayed by his college roomie Joakim Noah. Johnson needed 15 shots to score 16 points, Smith 14 to score 14. With all that, this still was in doubt inside the final four minutes.

And that, conveniently enough, is where this series stands: Tied at 1, very much in doubt.

By Mark Bradley

105 comments Add your comment

Hawks vs Bull pt 2

May 4th, 2011
10:42 pm

the Hawks played Game 2 form many times this year and that’s what makes you think they could still be in trouble

barrie

May 4th, 2011
10:47 pm

agreed, and i never post.

Scott

May 4th, 2011
10:51 pm

Scott

May 4th, 2011
10:52 pm

mark did you hear about huddy’s one hitter. nice

CLOS_ATL

May 4th, 2011
10:53 pm

Ahhh! You Can’t beat No one When Da Refs Swallow The Whistle … Noah was fouling all night …..SMH!

Scott

May 4th, 2011
10:54 pm

If al or jamal were on tonight, the hawks could have won this game. They were a combined 5/22. And marvin sure made things worse. Stop playing him so much. 5 minutes a game max.

Harold

May 4th, 2011
10:56 pm

our front court looked either lazy or thick

Denny

May 4th, 2011
10:57 pm

You won’t win when you only score over 20 points one quarter in a game.

MJC

May 4th, 2011
10:58 pm

I’ll wait for the people saying we need to trade Josh because of his shooting this game, while willfully ignoring Al’s terrible shooting in the postseason so far.

oldbird

May 4th, 2011
11:00 pm

Josh Smith may be the most athletic guy on the planet. Why can he not become a dominating player that forces teams to gameplan against him?

Denny

May 4th, 2011
11:00 pm

MJC
Al was 4/7 in game one. Hardly terrible. The way I see it, he’s due for a breakout game. Probably happens Friday.

Justin

May 4th, 2011
11:01 pm

If Josh was coached by a big time coach, he would be a lot better.

The CZAR

May 4th, 2011
11:04 pm

Josh was horrible in game 1 too. Makes Hawks look like an undisciplined team . When they are not passing the ball they are embarrassing. Josh has no business trying for threes. Game much closer with poor shot selection.

Gwinnett Fred

May 4th, 2011
11:08 pm

Not going to dump on the team, they weren’t going to sweep the Bulls.

That said – it just boggles the mind how they run the clock down nearly every damn posession. I turned the game off when they were down 8 with just over 2 minutes to play (after cutting it to 6) and when time is of the essence, dribble dribble dribble dribble and all of a sudden Johnson is handing the ball off to Josh (of all people) behind the 3 point line with TWO SECONDS on the shot clock. BRICK.

Seriously, either Drew has no concept on how to install a play that takes under 22 seconds or the players are just flat ignoring him.

I fear that will be their downfall in this series – they cannot beat the Bulls running set offensive plays that take too much time off the clock. I realize that is one reason Teague has just 1 turnover in 2 games, but what’s the difference between a turnover and Smith chunking a brick from 25 feet, whether in desperation or not?

GET A LITTLE IMAGINITIVE ON OFFENSE DREW OR WE WON’T LAST PAST 5 GAMES!!!

The CZAR

May 4th, 2011
11:08 pm

You’ll never hear Larry Drew with a hoarse voice. Just riding the coat tails of teams prior success. He’s not able to stop the bleeding when the Hawks play like the Hawks. At least they had one good game left in them.

AT

May 4th, 2011
11:13 pm

People can blame Josh all they want for taking those but it’s Larry Drew who deserves a lot of the blame. Tom Thibodeau pulled Rose in Game 1 pretty early for his poor play early in that game. We’re talking about the league MVP! Until Drew learns how to discipline Josh he will keep shooting.

AT

May 4th, 2011
11:15 pm

I meant…”taking those shots” above

FIRELD!

May 4th, 2011
11:15 pm

LD finally set the pick out high for Jeff by Joe and because they had to respect teague’s speed Joe took and hit a wide open 3. Problem is we never went back to it. The next play down joe went one on one against deng and got ripped and then on the next possesion Joe threw the ball out of bounds. LD should have kept the ball in Jeff’s hands and spotted his shooters up. It was coaching that lost this game and it was that same coaching that kept Jeff Teague on the bench all year. A darn shame. Teague is an awesome talent and it’s a shame this organization let’s this dumb coach stunt him like he does. FIRE DREW NOW AND FREE THE TEAGUE!

Hubie Green

May 4th, 2011
11:17 pm

The Hawks shoot way too many 17-23 ft shots, the worst shot in basketball. They do not attack the basket the way they should, esp Horford and Smith. There are many reasons why they have never made it to a conference finals, which by itself is amazing. Where is Chris Paul? Oh yeah we bypassed him in the draft; idiotic.

bo

May 4th, 2011
11:17 pm

Is it possible for us to protect home court?

Mark Bradley

May 4th, 2011
11:18 pm

The Hawks actually drove the ball some tonight. Because of Teague.

bo

May 4th, 2011
11:19 pm

Thanks FIRELD , you saved me an extra comment. Terrrible coaching

bo

May 4th, 2011
11:21 pm

Where are the backdoor cuts?

bo

May 4th, 2011
11:27 pm

Sheldon Williams. I still cant believe it

Mark Bradley

May 4th, 2011
11:27 pm

The Hawks ran two back cuts in the first quarter. Bulls were so upset they called time.

Swingman912

May 4th, 2011
11:28 pm

Joe has to react better when the double comes, Jamal can’t take whatever shot he wants, Josh has to brah boards and hit the lane instead off coolin out on the perimeter, Al is gettin abused by Noah, so is Josh, and Teague needs the ball Everytime coming up the court. Drew has to call more pick plays for Teague. Nobody except Rose can stay in front of him. In spite of that, we’re going back to Atlanta with a split…and they worked for this win…

chasjons

May 4th, 2011
11:31 pm

Glad to see Teague put into a position where he has to put in minutes. Keeping Bibby as a starter really sidetracked Teague’s development. We can definitely beat the Bulls, but we will need to avoid another cold night like tonight. All in all it wasn’t a bad loss.

Whopper Dawg

May 4th, 2011
11:32 pm

Johnson killed us in the closing minutes. I was screaming at the TV, not him, not him.

NagoyaHawk

May 4th, 2011
11:44 pm

Much like the Orlando series except we never led in this one (Did we?). Anyway, let’s hope it unfolds like the Magic, cause we still got a rabbit to pull out from our hat, and that’s called the Highlight Factory. Lookout boys & girls, cause the Hawks are coming home. Can they take control again?

coloradobulldog

May 4th, 2011
11:55 pm

Let’s look at the positive. We took one on their turf which is what we had to do. Bulls only lost 5 home games all year, btw. We just need to do what we did vs Orlando and win our home games. If we lose one, we are toast.

Reggie

May 5th, 2011
12:06 am

Im sorry but Marvin Williams days as a starter on this team should be over. I didn’t think the same lineup vs Orlando would work vs Chicago but not only will it work it has worked.Collins back at the 5 and Marvin back on the bench.Damien has played well enough to get the call before Marvin.

stevie zero

May 5th, 2011
12:07 am

josh smith is a great athlete. and yet he drags the hawks down with stubborn poor jumpshooting and a whiney pouty attitude. i think i hate him

joey1

May 5th, 2011
12:08 am

the hawks couldnt make a shot tonight, they still were in the game late, the defense and effort was there but too many boneheaded possessions when it counted, teague showed me how good he could be….. this is the same scenario as the orlando series we have home court advantage now… thats all we could have asked for going into this series,, hawks will feed off the energy of the crown at home, josh and al come out of their slumps and play great hawks will win in 6as i said before the series, just like orlando

bsg3003

May 5th, 2011
12:09 am

just let me tell you what i think about josh smith… HES AN IDIOT. I know the hawks think they have something with him, but he is slowly becoming the worst starter on the team, and a definite area of concern. his philosophy: if i take a hundred jumpsots at least one of em will fall in! even al is becoming more of a j-shooter. we are continuing to decline in rebounds not because we arn’t a gifted team, but because every player, from pg to center takes 15+ feet jumpers which usually does not go in which usually mean the hawks are gonna have virtually no o rebounds. oh ya and TRADE SMOOVE.

Patrick

May 5th, 2011
12:09 am

I honestly thought the Hawks looked their best when Teague was on the court. When they took him out in the first quarter for a few minutes, that’s when the score went from being tied to the Bulls pulling ahead and never looking back.

Coach Dooley

May 5th, 2011
12:10 am

Hawks are still playing very well although the Hawks will have to continue to shoot the lights out to beat the Bulls. Johnson has had 2 of the last 3 games where he has played the best ball of his career. He will not shoot 5 for 5 3 pointers again- ever!!!

bsg3003

May 5th, 2011
12:12 am

josh smith should be done in ATL. i cannot stand to see another jumpshot that bricks the rim. ill put it this way: i’d rather have pachulia shooting mid-range jumpers than smith.

Gamer

May 5th, 2011
12:13 am

When will Josh Smith learn not to shoot jumpers over and over and over and over and over and over……it is so tiring to see!!!!!

LD NEED TO STOP BEING A CHEERLEADER AND START COACHING THROUGHOUT THE GAME, ESPECIALLY AT CRITICAL JUNCTURES OF A GAME….DEFINITELY WHEN HAWKS’ OPPONENT ARE MAKING A RUN.

SEEMINGLY, EVERYTIME TNT TAKES US INTO THE HAWKS’ HUDDLE DURING TIME-OUT,,LD IS DOING TOO MUCH FUSSING AND NOT COACHING……

TELL JOSH TO STOP TAKEN BONEHEAD JUMPERS…..BIG MEN NEED TO CRASH THE BOARDS….GUARDS NEED TO HELP OUT ON THE GLASS….GIVE THE BALL TO TEAGUE TO PUSH UP COURT….

WHAT HAPPEN TO J.J. AND JAMAL HIGH PICK AND ROLL PLAY?????

THE HAWKS NEED TO HOLD SERVE ON HOME-COURT……

joey1

May 5th, 2011
12:14 am

what the crapm i just posted and it didnt go thru

Summerteeth

May 5th, 2011
12:16 am

Boozer and Noah are two of the most annoying human beings on Earth. Not only do they get away with fouls on almost every play, but they feel the need to yell and scream like children. Please get the microphones away from these idiots.

moboman

May 5th, 2011
12:18 am

LD needs to change the formation. Instead of Smoove coming out high and missing all those open jumpers, he needs to stay low and let Al come out high. Al will hit open Js at a higher percentage, and Josh can handle the boards. This is a strategy problem. They are gonna keep leaving Josh open on the perimeter. Al will demand more respect which might open up josh inside. Come on LD, make Josh work down low!!

Coach Dooley

May 5th, 2011
12:19 am

Give the Hawks credit- they got what they wanted- stole one on the road.

bsg3003

May 5th, 2011
12:20 am

two years ago josh was so close to becoming an all-star that he was regarded as the biggest allstar snub that year. he limited his outside shots to a career low, both al, and josh were beasts in the paint and created alot of O-rebounds. well what happens this year? we limit our players from the post, you got teams expecting al to take that 17 ft jumper, and smove well, well smoove just reverted back to his same old ways. jacking up J, after J. i mean how can he not see that those bricks hurt the team???

bsg3003

May 5th, 2011
12:23 am

anyways, i tell myself all the time that teague could be another rajon rondo if he got time, i mean look at this game here! he led the team in scoring as a starter and is usually so far on the bench that he only comes out when we’re getting blown out. the quickness and athleticism is there, he just needs time.

moboman

May 5th, 2011
12:28 am

Teague played well again. He maybe finally feeling his place on this team. Scored well, but still has to learn to floor general more.

Outside Observer

May 5th, 2011
12:30 am

Dear Hawks,
There are only a few things I ask out of my basketball team. One, I want a team that wants to win. If my team gets outrebounded by fifteen boards, it sounds to me like the other team wants it more than we do. Two, play smart basketball. Don’t take bad shots. Don’t let Josh Smith shoot at all (he must be shooting 20% from the field in the playoffs). If we only shoot 34% as a team, we aren’t playing smart basketball. Three, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. LD installed a motion offense, and for the first few quarters, it seemed the ball was moving decently well. Then we get within six points in the middle of the fourth and we revert back to iso-Joe. The motion stopped, our offense lost the rhythm, and we lost the game. Someone please tell Joe that we have a system, and while he is the most expensive component in the system, he has to do his part in the overall system for everything to work. You won’t beat the Bulls one on five. You need your teammates. They want to help you.
Sincerely, frustrated fan

p.s. In the highlight factory, I expect to see our players make more dunks than Sky Hawk. Don’t disappoint us.

ag

May 5th, 2011
12:36 am

Again, I have said it all along – even when Mr. Bradley said “change” should be Marvin. I do agree, and like I said KH should return as our SG and JJ at SF. Were is our buddy “It Wasen’t A Bad Pick”? He blames JJ – but now Marvin is buried behind Teague for the 5th option. Prior to the game, I said he would be the X factor. He failed! Overall, Al had a bad game and he acts afraid to shoot, but at least he grabbed rebounds. Josh was awful, but some big blocks and stick backs (should be his bread and butter) – Marvin……..

MitchC

May 5th, 2011
12:37 am

Admittedly, I didnt see all of the game, because I was watching a lot of the Braves doubleheader, but.. from what I did see.

The Bulls played better, and the Hawks not as good.. as Game 1.

Mark writes this article.. almost with the tone.. that he expected the Hawks to win Game 2. (Maybe I’m distorting the points that he was trying to put across, but at least thats the tone I think he seemed to give).

It isnt surprising at all what happened tonight. The Bulls were a higher seed team that did very well in the regular season, that had just been beaten in Game 1 of a playoff series, by a lower seed team. Chicago came to play tonight, the Hawks didnt.

I dont so much see tied 1-1 as “In doubt:” as Mark put it. Rather.. I now see it.. as simply, a best of five series, with the Hawks going home for the next two, just needing to play like they did in Game 1. It can happen.

More than likely, the Hawks will play a much better Game 3, in front of the home folks. It’s very possible that after Game 3, Mr Bradley’s article about them might take on a far different tone.

ag

May 5th, 2011
12:40 am

Proud of Teague…but fella’s he will have a bad game. Again like the Orlando series, very bad subs at the end oif the first quarter. Teague is so valuable on defense, it is very hard to take him out. When he went lout, the Bulls made their push.

Vick Supporter

May 5th, 2011
12:46 am

Josh Smith is KILLING me. I’ve always pulled for him, but I’m done man. This guy has ZERO basketball IQ. If he’s not on the break, he flat out sucks and so does Marvin. Why does he think he’s a spot up shooter?!? Take the f’in ball to the basket..both of them. We could have won this game tonight. And people quit blaming LD…the Bulls are a great team and they were at home. We have to be super loud at Phillips this Friday