Joe Johnson was incredible tonight. He not only made fourth quarter shots. He made easy fourth quarter shots. It was the Joe show of Woody's dreams. Unfortunately, you could replace John Salmons as the subject of those sentences and it would be equally as true. The difference in the last minutes of the game was simply that Joe fouled John Salmons 12 feet beyond the three point line with the Hawks in the bonus. Joe had denied Salmons the ball on a few possessions down the stretch. It was the only defense Atlanta had one him. (You know because if he got the ball the Bucks just set a screen and put Josh Smith on him.) So I get the intent, but that does not make it correct. And I get that Joe was not playing perfectly legal defense either, but that does not make that call correct either.
Still, far too good of a game and too great of play by the two aforementioned players to blame the lose on the ref (and Dick should have known that it was far too good of a battle to even make it a debate) so the Hawks should look elsewhere to grow and blame. And the foul line is where that begins and ends. 46% from the charity stripe is not leaving points on the board. It is giving away points. It is giving away energy. It is a game killer, and it was all of those things tonight.
As far as three peripheral things, and I say peripheral because the players could have easily won this game despite them, the inability to throw any wrinkle in the fourth quarter lineup to stop Salmons, get Al Horford the ball, or draw up anything that looks like the team is even aware of the goal of basketball as sport on the final play is disheartening. Check that, it is predictable. Back to back games are about motivation, about knowing when to press the gas and when to rest. They are about milking every ounce of skill out of tired bodies and then milking every advantage until the victory cow says "seriously stop milking me." They are about willing a group to victory. Mike Woodson has no ability to help his players in any of this. Don't get me wrong. If the Hawks hit their free throws and don't commit dumb fouls, they win, but you don't pay the coach to make free throw or not commit fouls. You pay him to do those other things. And in those things, Woody continues to be a no show. Seriously, I am not sure Joe Johnson knew how much time was left in the game on that last play. Think about that. Actually don't. That is unfair because I don't know that for fact. Just think about how dumb that possession looked. That is fact.
The Hawks fought hard. They could have won, and that is something to hang your hat on when the Hawks are on the road and exhausted. The fact that they should have won is the frustrating part.