Hawks 129 Bulls 117

Boxscore

Gameflow

Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
CHI 92.2 1.27 62.0 16.5 24.2 11.9
ATL 92.2 1.40 60.8 22.8 39.4 8.7

Left mostly implicit in my brief comments published in the game thread last night was my expectation of a game not dissimilar to Chicago's 90-77 loss to Miami on Boxing Day. Instead, we got something out of the NBA circa 1986.

In short, there was nothing not to like offensively and nothing to like defensively. In a lengthier examination, there are bullet points.

Re: Offense

  • Atlanta's scoring by quarter: 32, 36, 30, 31. Not that there weren't some runs (early in the second quarter, the second half of the fourth quarter) but the Hawks scored easily and consistently for 48 minutes.
  • Joe Johnson's scoring by quarter: 12, 10, 8, 11. That's how you stroll to 41 points.
  • All five starters had at least 4 assists and they combined, in 185:49, to commit five turnovers.
  • The bench played well, too. Zaza Pachulia scored 10 points on 7 shots. Maurice Evans scored 5 points on 1 shot (and 2 FTA). Even Flip Murray, who shot the ball like, well, Flip Murray, recorded 2 assists. Doesn't seem like a big deal? It's the first time Atlanta's backup point guard had more than 1 assist in a game since December 10th (or 8 games ago) in San Antonio.

Re: Defense

  • It was fairly well established in Chicago in November that the Hawks could not guard Derrick Rose and Ben Gordon simultaneously as either one is too quick for Mike Bibby. Last night, the Hawks couldn't manage to guard either of them at all for three quarters except when Rose was at the free throw line.
  • The Hawks can't guard Rose and Gordon? Fair enough. They're both good-to-excellent offensive players. Allowing the rest of the Bulls (minus Hinrich, Gooden, and Deng) to shoot 61.8 eFG% is the real concern.
  • Finding the silver lining is (admittedly) not my strong suit. I'm as surprised as anyone to have found a glimmer of hope in the midst of a performance defined by allowing 127 points per 100 possessions to a team that at one (brief) point had a lineup of Lindsey Hunter, Larry Hughes, Thabo Sefolosha, Andres Nocioni, and Joakim Noah on the floor. That glimmer: defensive rebounding. If you're looking for a reason the Hawks won other than, duh, making a lot of shots, their above average (both their own season average and the league's average) performance on the defensive glass played a factor.

Charles Odum's recap for the AP is chock full of people confuses pace of play with good defense:

After holding 14 of their last 15 opponents under 100 points, the Atlanta Hawks expected a low-scoring game against Chicago.

When that plan failed, the Hawks seemed to enjoy a rare opportunity to change their style.

...

The Hawks, who average only 96 points, topped their previous season best by 10 points.

...

Hawks coach Mike Woodson normally complains when his team gives up 100 points. On this night, he followed his team's lead and focused on his team's scoring.

On the season: Atlanta is 7th in the league in offensive efficiency and 17th in defensive efficiency. Their relatively low-scoring games are due to playing at the sixth-slowest pace in the league.

Al Horford:

"We've been a pretty good defensive team. We just had to adjust and play their style of game, and we got it done.''

Josh Smith:

"It shows we are real versatile. It doesn't matter whether we're playing a fast style of basketball or slow, just as long as we win.''

Just to be clear, last night's "fast" style was less than half a possession faster than the league average and two possessions slower than Chicago's season average.

Mike Woodson reacted to Atlanta's offensive explosion with his usual wit and insight:

"Our offense was solid, probably the best it has been all season."

In truly dysfunctional team news, Andres Nocioni:

"It's personal, you know? Everybody needs to take the challenge. If we don't play 'D,' we will be out of the playoffs for sure. Today was terrible, terrible defense. We need to stop the ball one-on-one. hen nobody helps or crowds guys or takes a charge. So everybody can drive the basket or get offensive rebounds. It's energy. It's attitude. And that's it."

versus head coach Vinny Del Negro:

"It's definitely not the effort. Guys are playing hard and giving me what they can."

Okay.

Wait, I think Larry Hughes has something to say:

"I'm not a spot-minute guy. I don't play well in that situation. If you want me to produce, I have to be out there. I can make a difference at both ends if I play."

If that's the alternative, I'll take this kind of nonsense from Woodson all day:

"You’re going to have games like this. And you have to give them credit. This is the first time all year we didn’t hold a team under 33 or 34 percent from the 3-point line."

Or at least the first time since Tuesday when Oklahoma City shot 41.7% from the three-point line. Oh, and opponents are shooting 33.9% on threes on the year.

Forget it, though, this team's 19-10.

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