The Hawks played their worst game of the season against one of the hottest teams in the NBA. Needless to say, it ended poorly for the home team. The Hawks started the game well, jumping out to a quick 17-12 lead in the first five minutes. From there, the Warriors took over behind hot shooting (and/or poor Hawks defense) and solid defense (and/or poor Hawks offense) on their way to an easy 115-93 drubbing of Atlanta. David lee led the Warriors with 20 points and 11 rebounds for his 16th double-double of the season, while Stephen Curry added a near triple-double with 18 points, 11 assists, and eight rebounds.
Golden State was hot offensively shooting 49.5% (49-of-99; yes 99 shots!) from the field and 41.7% (10-of-24) from behind the three-point line. Conversely, Atlanta had one of their worst shooting nights going just 31-of-84 (36.9%) from the field including a season-worst 5-of-26 (19.2%) from beyond the arc. The Warriors out-rebounded the Hawks 54-45 (10-10 OR) and improved their record to 15-1 when they out-rebound their opponent. Golden State also had an incredible 32 assists on their 49 made baskets, many coming on kick-outs or cross-court skip passes that were aided by slow rotations by the Hawks. After the game Larry Drew made it clear that that type of effort and performance wouldn't cut it if the Hawks were going to contend.
"The most important thing for our ball club is we have to bring energy every night. If we don't bring the energy then we're really just a below average team. If we play with energy we can compete with anybody."
"Going into this game, we felt it was vital that we brought energy tonight. For some reason, we just did not have the energy early, particularly in the first quarter. We were a step late with a lot of things we did. Shots were short' we weren't really getting after them. We didn't have the energy I was hoping that we would have. We tried to change up a couple things, just to try to generate some energy, but that didn't work. When they punched us in the mouth, we did not respond. That was very disappointing. That was very disheartening."
Josh Smith had his worst night of the season, shooting just 1-of-12 (08.3%) for three points with seven rebounds. The reaction to his performance was very different from when I asked Drew about it, and when I asked Josh about it. To both, I posed the question, "Did you feel [Josh] was pressing on offense?"
Drew responed, "Yeah, I thought he was pressing. I thought he was probably trying to do too much. They were digging very deep on him in the post, and when that happens we just have to pass it out. They really load up wherever the ball is and you just have to make a play out of the double-team."
Smoove responded, "I don't think so. If you're a basketball player you know that you're not going to make shots and tonight was my game. You know I've been playing well offensively for a long time now so it was bound to happen."
It appeared as though, to most of us [including Drew], that Josh was trying too hard to create his own shot. There was no doubt it wasn't Josh's night shooting, but he seemed to compound those issues by taking tougher shots than were needed, both in the post and from the perimeter. The trouble for Josh started on the inside, where he missed six shots inside of 11 feet, and eventually his frustrations pulled him away from the basket for some poor jump-shots. Smith started out cold, missing some looks off post-ups on the block (where the Warriors were doubling down) and that clearly effected him the rest of the night.
The lone bright spots for the Hawks were Al Horford and Ivan Johnson. Horford started the game hot scoring nine points in the first quarter and was extremely aggressive going up against the slower Andris Biedrins. Horford's frustration came when the Hawks got away from him in the second quarter.
"I felt like I had a good rhythm there and we kind of got away from what was working for us early, and we had a lot of bad shots that were just as good as turnovers, which effected us on the defensive end."
Horford talked a lot about bad shots after the game, which had to be frustrating when he was 7-for-11 shooting with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Ivan Johnson had his second straight very good outing with 15 points and nine rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench. Ivan, who sat out three games earlier in the month, has played the last two with a lot of energy and been very efficient as well (7-of-10 shooting on the night). Unfortunately, Ivan and Al's efforts were for not as the rest of the Hawks struggled to create any kind of rhythm offensively or defensively.
This was the game Hawks fans had feared. A night when the jumpers weren't falling, and the defense looked ragged. This was the first game that the Hawks looked really bad on both ends of the floor (they've had bad nights, but none like this game), and after the game all of the players seemed to be in agreement that the best thing was to just move on, get back to work, and try to put this loss behind them. Atlanta will be back in action Tuesday night in Washington against the 3-18 Wizards, and will hope that they can get back on track against the team with the NBA's worst record.