The Roller Coaster ride that is the Atlanta Hawks continued with a 102-87 loss to the Denver Nuggets last night. This game was a textbook example of one team making things easy for themselves and the other team choosing a very different route. The Nuggets piled up 48 points in the paint compared to just 28 from Atlanta. The Nuggets also held a 23-13 advantage in fast break points. The Nuggets actually turned the ball over more than Atlanta 12-10, but Denver also took more advantage of those turnovers scoring 16 points off of 10 Atlanta miscues while the Hawks scored eight points off of 12 Denver turnovers.
I cautioned in yesterday's recap that perhaps the result of the Milwaukee game was one of those times where all of the jumpers went in. While the Hawks went inside more and got in transition more often in that game, they were never really challenged on the defensive end. Denver on the other hand is athletic enough to make things tough on Atlanta and the second the Hawks met resistance inside, they went right back to their old habits of taking long jump shots. Denver is a much more gifted scoring team than Milwaukee and the Hawks kept it close for a little while before fatigue started to make those jump shots more and more difficult. Atlanta simply faded in the second half to a team that had a better game plan and executed it to near perfection.
Joe Johnson couldn't follow up the magic he had last night finishing with 12 points on just 4-13 shooting. Josh Smith scored 13 points but was just 4-16 from the field and seemed intent early on to just jack up jumpers at the first available opportunity. I will credit him for coming up with nine boards and three blocks. Al Horford took five shots and one free throw in 34 minutes. Is there anything else that really needs to be said about that?
Credit Zaza Pachulia for having a good game off the bench scoring 19 points while grabbing 10 rebounds.
It is a reoccurring theme that after the game now, coach Drew and the Hawks talk about the need of sharing the ball and going inside. Yet if that was a priority before the game it appears that not everyone is on the same page. They often break that plan off very early. There is too much freedom in this offense right now and while it might be nice to think they can push the pace for easy baskets, it won't matter if the screws don't get tightened in the half court.
Hats off to Denver whom George Karl has playing extremely well post Carmelo.