Cleveland 95, Atlanta 84, or Please just shove a stick in my eye

With 32.1 seconds left in the third quarter, Zaza Pachulia beat LeBron James down the court for an open dunk.  This obviously vexed the basketball gods, as the Hawks would not score again for another 9 minutes and 20 seconds.  The Hawks went into the fourth quarter trailing 75-74, and came dangerously close to finishing with 74 points.

After that, the Hawks misremember how to score.  Here's a quick summary of those disastrous possesions:

1)  Joe missed from three over Jamario Moon
2)  Horford missed fade-away jumper over Varejao from 10 feet
3)  Horford missed wide open jumper from 19 feet
4)  Horford turnover (bad pass) in transition
5)  Mo Evans blocked dunk in transition
6)  Jamal Crawford traveling violation (crab dribble?)
7)  Joe Johnson turnover in transition
8)  Joe Johnson turnover
9)  Jamal Crawford missed 17 foot jumper
10)  Josh Smith missed 22 foot jumper
11)  Al Horford missed hook shot
12) Joe Johnson bad pass off of a drive
13)  Joe Johnson missed 3 point jumper
14)  Joe Johnson turnover
15)  Joe Johnson missed technical free throw, and Jamal Crawford missed 2 free throws on the ensuing possesion
16)  Mike Bibby missed three pointer over Mo Williams

By the time Josh Smith dunked the ball with 3:12 left in the game, the game was essentially lost.  Joe Johnson and Al Horford are obviously your biggest culprits here, but the clear trend is that the Hawks devolved into playing a ton of one-on-one, and you just can't do that against premier defensive teams.  There's some bad luck mixed in there as well, for sure, but the Hawks failed to recreate the ball movement from the first three quarters which had turned into efficient scoring.  And it's painful to watch a team so good at limiting their turnovers turn the ball over 6 times in 16 possessions.

Joe Johnson can be such a tease, as well.  After going 4-4 with a free throw to score 11 points in the game's first 6 minutes, he shoots 1-10 the rest of the game and finishes with only 15, and commits four turnovers during a critical fourth quarter stretch.  The offense was so bad that it overshadowed the defense, which held the Cavs to 2-14 shooting over that same stretch.  The Hawks in fact managed to cut the lead to 5 with just under a minute remaining before an Ilgauskus three sealed it.

Loser Dots: (New, in paragraph form)
  • Lost in that horrid, horrid mess of a fourth quarter was the incredible defensive game Marvin played.  LeBron James went 6-20 shooting, and at least 2 of those makes were while Marvin was out of the game.  A third basket was where a switch put Crawford on James, resulting in a three point-play on a Zaza foul.
  • I love that DVR lets me relive Zaza Pachulia beating LeBron James down the floor, but I hate that the fourth quarter looks just as bad a second time.
  • Jamal Crawford scored 26 points on 10-17 shooting, which is overshadowed by two missed free throws late.  The story through 3 quarters was the shoot-out between him and Mo Williams.
  • Jeff Teague received another DNP-CD; a puzzler considering how bad Atlanta's guard play was.
  • Josh Smith sat for several critical stretches with foul trouble.  However, he did not foul out, despite playing the last 6 minutes with five fouls.  I say this because it was he who finally broke the Hawks' scoring drought, and because the Hawks blew three transition opportunities during the drought before he returned.  I can't help but believe the Hawks would have gotten more out of their transition opportunities with Josh in the game.
  • Of course, the first thing he did upon returning was chuck a 22 foot jumper followed by a clear path violation.

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