Watching this game on DVR again and specifically the fourth quarter, it is tough to not put this loss on Josh Smith. He turned the ball over. He shot jump shots, and he played truly horrible defense. I say that with a bit of regret. After all, Woodson was asking three perimeters guys to guard people none of them were capable of guarding. And our coach employed the best of three in a way that kept him from defending Wade after just one screen.
So while the Hawks lost mainly because the Heat hit shots, the Hawks missed, a great (and these days normal) Josh Smith performance could have easily led to different results. Josh Smith has begun to make excellence seem routine, and that bring a lot of praise, but it also means average is no longer good enough.
Before detailing Josh's fourth quarter poor performance, we should look at one exception because it goes to show how the small things in basketball actually matter. On that dagger Beasley three pointer (around 2:05 in the video), Carlos Arroyo innocently whiffed at a screen on Horford as his man went to set a screen for Wade. It made Horford jump sideways and Bibby, unwilling to make the extra effort to guard a guy closely who was probably not going to shoot the ball again, jogged after Arroyo. The jogging made Horford momentarily alter his path for a second time, and then he was out of position to cut off Wade's drive. That is all it took. Josh Smith went to help and Joe Johnson could not or was told not to or did not move over to the open shooter. And that was the ball game. Josh literally gave the "I just threw a home-run pitch" face before the shot even left Beasley's hand.
I give Josh a pass on that play even if his body language was deplorable. But every other fourth quarter make by Beasley was because Josh Smith did not try, made a bad decision, or could not/would not get back on defense. Beasley got his first two on a semi-break with Bibby guarding him and Josh not yet over the half court line. He hit a wide open curl without a single screen being set to free him, and finally Josh turned the ball over and Beasley sprinted the court for an alley-oop because Josh failed to mark him down the court.
It is tough to fault a guy for other people's weaknesses, but Josh has the skill and motor to make up for a lot of them. And a lack of effort is never acceptable. It is easier to get mad at an "A" student for making a "C" than a "C" student earning the same grade. Still, if you just want to blame Woody, I will accept any and all arguments.
Brief Loser Dots
- Isolations and ball hogging were not the issue for Joe Johnson. Missing open shots was the issue.
- Zaza cannot be passed too. It is not worth it. I don't care if he is wide open.
- Mike Bibby being the only one fighting for a rebound. Reason #320 why you don't want Josh Smith taking jump shots.
- Nique's fourth quarter color commentary was dark horse homer-tastic. Go watch it again. You would think the Hawks were beating the Heat by 20.
- Again, Al Horford, six shots.