|Team||Poss||Off Eff||eFG%||FT Rate||OR%||TO%|
Without both Josh Smith and (for the final 41 minutes) Al Horford, Atlanta's primary defensive deficiencies shifted from limiting dribble penetration to keeping any Pacer over 6' 8" from doing whatever he wanted. Rasho Nesterovic scored 21 points. Troy Murphy had 19 rebounds. Jeff Foster had 12 points (5-6 FGA) and 5 rebounds in 22 minutes. Fox Sports South must have chosen not to show Roy Hibbert begging Jim O'Brien to put him in the game.
Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby did what they could offensively* but they barely combined to match Danny Granger's production. Acie Law IV took advantage of his late introduction to the game and fueled a run that got the Hawks within 7 with 7:59 to play. Atlanta had three chances to cut the lead further (four if you count Maurice Evans' missed tip on Joe Johnson's three-pointer) but could only muster an off-balance Marvin Williams jump shot, a Joe Johnson runner, and a Joe Johnson three-point attempt.
*36 Hawks field goals, just 13 assists. Offensively, it wasn't a pretty night as you might expect with a frontcourt rotation decimated by injuries and five-man units that likely made their debut last night: Law/Johnson/Evans/Hunter/Pachulia to finish the 3rd and open the 4th quarter for example.
On Indiana's possession following Johnson's missed three-pointer, the Hawks forced another missed shot but couldn't control the defensive rebound. Marquis Daniels eventually made a jumper on Indiana's second chance and the Hawks never again got closer than 9 points.
In what is becoming a common occurrence, an Atlanta player was asked after the game to comment on the opposing player who did whatever he wanted against the Hawks "defense." Here's Joe Johnson on Danny Granger:
"He's a pretty good player, I can't take nothing away from him. He made a lot of good shots tonight, so give him credit."
I think there's a small, subconscious part of Joe Johnson that wonders on nights like Tuesday, "How many points could I score if I got to play against our own defense?"
Johnson on his team:
"We haven't been playing together, playing with any energy, like we were in those first six games. I think we've gotten real complacent and we haven't been playing team basketball."
Can't wait for tonight's game to tip-off. Neither can Joe:
"We can’t beat anybody like this."
It took a couple of weeks but this is starting to resemble a Hawks team.
Excuse while I beat my head against a hard surface for a moment.
Okay, I'm back.
In better news, Sekou reports that Horford will try to play tonight:
After his injury, Horford limped to the locker room and never returned, staying in the locker room to soak his ankle in ice. He walked out of the locker room on his own after the game and said he would begin treatment this morning with the hope of playing against the Wizards.
Maurice Evans doesn't want to make excuses:
"I don’t want to use it as an excuse..."
But can't help himself:
"...but we’re just not at full strength right now. We’ve been hobbling since that Boston game."
You've also played New Jersey (without Josh Boone) twice and Indiana (without Mike Dunleavy, Jr.) once. Boone and Dunleavy aren't josh Smith but if you can take the Celtics to the final half-second in Boston without Smith, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect the team to compete against short-handed Net and Pacer teams. Unless, of course, the Hawks' bench is, once again, terrible.
While Randolph Morris runs his personal foul to minutes played ratio up to 10:23 and Mario West warms our hearts, Nick Fazekas is playing in Belgium and Anthony Morrow is demonstrating that there's at least one undrafted free agent from Georgia Tech that can contribute in tangible, positive ways for an NBA team.
- Cornrows had so many compliments for Pacers that he had to bust out the bullet points.
- Winning six straight to open the season then losing four straight is a rare feat according to the Elias Sports Bureau:
With a loss to the Pacers on Tuesday, the Hawks have lost four straight after starting the season 6-0. The only other team in NBA history to win at least six in a row to start a season immediately followed by a losing streak of four or more games was the Philadelphia Warriors in 1960. They won their first nine games and then lost four straight.
- I'm worried about CoCo.
Updating yesterday's post...
TEAM DEFENSE GAMES 1-5
|Team||Poss||Def Eff||eFG%||FT Rate||OR%||TO%|
Before and after now include an equal number of games.
TEAM DEFENSE GAMES 6-10
|Team||Poss||Def Eff||eFG%||FT Rate||OR%||TO%|
Last night, the Hawks contrived to hit their four-game average of allowing 1.2 points per possession on the nose despite improving in three of the four factors relative to their recent defensive collapse. Lesson learned: Allowing your opponent to shoot 60% from the floor is destructive in and of itself.