Sometimes it would be nice if we knew when the Hawks are going to mail one in against an opponent.
It would save the trouble of spending money, time, and energy caring about the result. After all, if they don't care about playing, say a game in Philadelphia, then what's the point of watching, spending, and caring, eh?
On Friday night the Hawks came out desperate to show that they could beat the lottery bound Sixers on (50) percent power and as a result turned the ball over (19) times, gave up (58) points in the paint, (15) offensive rebounds, and was outworked by the now (26-47) 76ers, 105-98.
As it does most of the time, games like these come down to the Hawks believing they can outscore teams that have worse records than they do, and eschew the harder work items like rebounding and defense. Tonight, they tossed in taking care of the basketball as an obstacle to victory as well.
Of the (19) turnovers, (15) came on PHL steals--some were courtesy of what has to be the best hands of the league as Jason Kapono and Jrue Holiday took turns stripping the Hawks of the ball when it was generously displayed for them to pilfer (with no fouls called to indicate anything but precision ball-swiping) .
Others were of the gift basket variety--delivered right into the Sixers' hands. One such play was a 2 on 1 fast break, where Marvin Williams casually tossed the ball on a lob to Andre Iguodala instead of Josh Smith. Another play saw Mike Bibby drive the lane and kick the ball out, finding the lunging arm of Iguodala. Andre hustled into the press table, saving the deflected ball and starting a break that he would end with an offensive rebound/second chance basket. Such careless handling of the basketball and subsequent Philly energy was the trademark for this game.
Defensively, time and again the Sixers got wherever they wanted to on the floor, facing little resistance both in transition or in the half court set. Kapono, a known lethal shooter, got set up easily to tie his season high in threes (4). Holiday entered the lane with a free pass all night, setting up many of his (12) assists. The Hawks defense often waited for the ball to fall into their hands after a Sixer miss, and when it didn't, PHL collected their (15) offensive rebounds.
It's a testament to how well the Hawks do actually score that the game was in doubt until the very end with their defensive and turnover deficiencies on the night. Bibby scored big in the first half (17 points total), Josh Smith in the second (20 point, 16 in the second half), and Joe Johnson (20/5/6/0 turnovers) was very efficient all throughout the game.
But if there is one thing this game should prove to the Hawks it's that offense alone does not win games, not even against a non-playoff team down two starters (Louis Williams and Thaddeus Young). You have to defend, rebound, and take care of the ball against any NBA team, especially one with Iguodala (25/10/9) and Holliday (13 points, 12 assists, 7 steals) playing (39) never-give-up minutes against you.
This result is no debacle--just another example of what happens when the Hawks don't have their full-time game faces on. Before the game, Joe Johnson told sideline reporter James Verrett the Hawks had to figure these things out now, before the playoffs started. Let the record (and the final score) show that those things still need to be figured out.
Evidence is shown here (check out the nice Horford follow-slam):