Quick Thought: A team of men and a team of jump shooters. Who ya got?
The Lakers began the game by not showcasing their shotmaker, their top-o-the-line shooting guard, Kobe Bryant, rather, they played to their strengths and advantage by using their twin towers, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum to take advantage of the Hawks smallish front court.
And they had success...lots of it. While the Hawks were busy finding the hot spots far away from the paint, the Lakers embraced the warm glow of that area, and everybody took a turn.
When the Hawks inevitably cooled off while not forsaking their wayward bride, the Lakers continued to pound, more than doubling the Hawks "efforts" inside.
When the Hawks would move the ball side to side, and show more than just a wandering thought about attacking the basket, they would begin to creep back in the game. And just as quickly, they would embrace the thought of nailing a three to really get down to business and the deficit would again be greater.
The Lakers size and length overwhelmed the Hawks to the point where the word bashful seems to weak to convey their reluctance to challenge their guests. Everyone was trying to shoot over the aggressive Lakers--especially Horford, who took on the challenge of Andrew Bynum by allowing the Laker big to block a pair of jump shots, then stepped back for a corner three. It was a make, but it defined the approach all the Hawks would take--let's see if we can take the path of least resistance and still make this happen.
Sadly, the Hawks made a serious run in the fourth quarter when they smartly began to move the ball, attack the basket, and stay away from the shiny attraction of the three point shot. They attempted a single three in their mini-rally that cut the lead to (8) with (5) minutes left in the game. Even in their lone three point attempt in that span, a miss by Joe Johnson, Al was there to tip it in and keep it going.
But, some might say predictably, as soon as the Hawks had the ball, down those eight points, they tossed aside presence and once again bombed away. Their final run ended with these possessions:
5:03---Hinrich misses a three
4:28---Shot clock violation
3:58---Hinrich missed three, Josh Smith missed three
3:03---Johnson miss, Pachulia 2 misses, Joe travels
2:21---Johnson misses a three
With two minutes left, the Hawks were down (16) and were finished. There was no manifestation of "passing up a good shot to get a better one" during that run or throughout the first half. If you had a window to launch, you had the codes to execute.
It's a strategy that has never worked consistently for this team, and it failed them yet again.
Zaza Pachulia was one of the main instigators for the Hawks getting involved in the game, finally, in the fourth quarter. His attack mode netted (4) points, and for the game, he scored (8) with (10) rebounds. In a season where he has failed to make the casual fan prefer him over Josh Powell and Jason Collins, it was a noteworthy performance and better than any either of those two has conjured this season.
Al Horford did a nice job of shooting and rebounding (17-9 for the game), but his lack of aggression only enabled the Laker bigs to stay out of any kind of foul trouble. Horford didn't even take a free throw and has drifted so far out, Rasheed Wallace is even wincing. His jump shooting has been amazing, really, but when a seven footer is blocking your 20 footers, you may want to invest in some more show-and-go, big fella. Just looking out over here.
Hey, who is up for a repeat of beating the Bulls, this time in Chicago Friday night?
Tweeted this tonight and got a strong reaction, so I'll reprint it here:
A fine "did you know"...3-pt shooting: Josh Smith (45-132, .341)....Joe Johnson (71-246, .289)