Joe Johnson reacts to wins and loses worse than a blogger. Hawks win big and he is drunk off optimism in the post game. Lose...ever, and he is ready to cry in the corner.
"I thought we were past this but I was wrong," said Johnson, who torched the Lakers for 18 points in the first nine minutes of the game and finished with a team-high 27. "We still complain too much. To be honest, we just didn't have the effort needed to do this right. If shots aren't falling we stand around. We think offense more than defense. And you're not going to win in this league like that."
You "thought we were past this" two days ago right after you knew we weren't five days before just before you were so pumped about the offseason, immediately after you knew we have a long way to go when the Cleveland season was over. If Joe is frustrated with Josh Smith taking jumpers, say it. If he is upset, he got taken out of the game on fire, name it. Does he want Jamal Crawford to defend better? Call it out. Whatever it is, name the freaking elephant. These vague swings of emotion just come off as empty words from a guy who either refuses to name or does not recognize the real problems. The man does exactly what bloggers are not suppose to do, generalize anger into politically correct whiny talk.
Maybe the naming of the problem is such an issue for Joe because he is part of the problem. Luckily, Bret is a blogger who is neither whiny nor politically correct.
I think the cause-and-effect relationship between standing around and shots not falling may, in fact, be the reverse of that which Mr. Johnson states. Of the seven field goals he made during his 18 point first quarter explosion, five were assisted by a teammate. It's a lot easier to get a good look in transition, on the move without the basketball, or when the ball's moving out of a double-team than it is by dribbling in isolation against multiple, set defenders.
I am not saying Joe is to blame for this loss. I would yell and scream and write mean letters until the cows came home that the Lakers are better and the Hawks turned it over too much. Those are team faults. And I understand that players are asked questions and give canned answers more often than I talk on the phone. Reading post-game quotes like Shakespeare is misplaced time and effort. But the fact remains, leaders don't generalize. They name the problems, and then lead the team toward a solution. And if you complain about the same general ideas of effort all the time, well, why complain at all?
(Update: After Co Co's excellent comments in response to this post, I think I was being a bit emotional originally. A laundry list of complaints is never the way to go for any leader in any profession, but more accurately, I think general critiques that show some self awareness of the reoccurring issues with this team would be better than Joe's "woe is me for having to lose the same way again with THIS team and then throw out arbitrary words like 'hustle'.")
Looking back at the keys to the game.
- Hawks shoot more free throws. Atlanta has to be the more aggressive team. Period.
- Mike Bibby breaks out. He hates the Lakers. Might as well show it with a good game.
- No Black Mamba. I am fine with Kobe Bryant going for 28. Just not 40. Most people say that they are fine with a team's best player getting his and they will shut down the other guy. Kobe is not one of those guys. He will beat you by himself.
- Ball movement. The Hawks will probably go down big at some point this game. Just like first two, they cannot panic and deteriorate to out athleting the other guy in one on one basketball. If the team plays within themselves, they should have a chance to win in the fourth quarter. That is refreshing to write and mean it.
- Zaza gives his best minutes of this short season. We need his rebounds and we need his defensive annoyance focused squarely at Andrew Bynum.
1. Yes by one free throw, but the Hawks were far less aggressive than the Lakers. Especially in the pivotal third quarter where everyone from Marvin to Joe to Josh were settling for jumpers. And that was of course when they were fortunate enough to not turn the ball over.
2. Bibby tried to save the third quarter for us. (Ed. note, Mike Bibby is no longer good enough to save games.)
3. Kobe Bryant, 41 points.
4. I honestly think this is the Hawks biggest problem. And execution problems are coaching problems. Plain and simple.
5. He fouled the crap out of some people which was nice.
Comment of the game thread from Bronn:
"Josh with his 6th jump shot tonight. And ‘Nique thinks he’s uncomfortable. He’s way, way, too comfortable."