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The third quarter was so poorly played that I began to lose interest in the game of basketball*. The fourth quarter shook my confidence in this team's chances of challenging for the fourth seed in the East. Plus, we got a hearty reminder of all the dumb ways Josh Smith can undermine his vast talents.
*As anything featuring the combined basketball stylings of Flip Murray and Jared Jeffries would be expected to achieve.
Five three-point attempts. Against a team using two of David Lee, Al Harrington, and Tim Thomas as interior defenders*. A technical foul for arguing a not very important foul call. A frustration reach-in foul in the backcourt as Thomas walked the ball up the court. Mike Woodson forgot all about limiting Smith's minutes due to him still recovering from his high ankle sprain. There was a case to be made for limiting Smith's minutes due to his play.
*Joe Johnson's 7 three-point attempts (one make) on a night he made 7-10 two-pointers weren't especially impressive from a guy Dominique Wilkins tells me "can get wherever he wants on the floor."
It wasn't all bad from Smith. Here's a list of things Smith did when wasn't (nearly) matching his career three-point shooting accuracy:
- He made 5 of 7 shots.
- He made 3 of 5 free throws.
- He had 5 assists while committing just 2 turnovers.
- He grabbed 8 defensive rebounds.
- He blocked 2 shots and altered several more.
What makes this so maddening is that if Josh Smith takes 5 three-pointers, he's probably going to make just one. He didn't have a bad shooting night; he had a typical shooting night.
I'm not especially thrilled with Marvin Williams' four rebound night, Mike Bibby's inability to keep Chris Duhon out of the lane, or Mike Woodson's attempt to win the game without making complete use of either Al Horford or Zaza Pachulia.
It should not have been so difficult to win on a night when the Knicks bench consisted of a disinterested Tim Thomas, the still- if not re-injured Nate Robinson and Jared Jeffries, and Anthony Roberson; on a night where Al Harrington and Quentin Richardson played but one good quarter each; on a night where Chris Duhon (thankfully) struggled to convert layups; on anight where New York attempted just 6 free throws.
It still seems to have escaped Mike Woodson's notice that his team is 12-6 in large part due to their three-point shooting. Or that he played three or four guards almost the entire second quarter:
"A win’s a win and we did what we had to do down the stretch. But it’s just how we played getting to the stretch. We played their game. And that wasn’t pretty. I just think that we have to understand when you’re not making 3-pointers … the importance of winning basketball games is playing the right way, I think. So when 3-pointers are not falling, you have to drive the basketball and perhaps get somebody a closer shot or perhaps get to the free throw line. And we didn’t do that tonight.”
Again, Smith played more in the second half when he was taking three of his four shots from beyond the arc. Woodson does know that he's in charge of which Hawks players are on the court, right? I seriously doubt that Al Horford chose to play just 11 minutes in the second half.
I think it would be foolish to criticize the coach of a 12-6 team too much. Woodson's obviously doing many things right but sure says some dumb things after games.