Lord knows we've taken up for our fellow Gator before, but you could argue that for over 2 quarters Saturday night (and you could argue for most of this season so far) the Hawks have acted like they don't have an All-Star center.
I'm curious, do they think that Al Horford won a lottery last season and simply played the part of starstruck everyman when the rest of the All-Stars took their places last February?
Do the Hawks themselves believe it was merely a fluke selection or that he made it there based on some kind of academic test score he accomplished off the court? Was it charity?
All Al Horford has done is outproduce the relatively meager opportunities afforded him during his career in Atlanta. He has to wait behind every streaky shooter, unscrupulous shot philanderer, and ball dominating guard in line for honest-to-goodness offensive possessions.
Yet he has produced, time and time again, and in the biggest moments.
This season, Al has taken it to another level, not shy around the bigger players in the post, more refined in his post moves, and lethal with his outside shot. His production has been off the charts, and he's surely headed to marry last year's All-Star recognition with this season's.
Yet, for dozens of possessions at a time, the team doesn't see fit to center their offense around him, but instead treat it like a cherry on a jump shot sundae. Why?
Sure the Mavericks played zone against the Hawks, but isn't the way to beat a zone to get penetration inside, get the defense to collapse, and then kick the ball around for an open look? Are you trying to tell me that you couldn't get the ball to the top of the circle to Al and run plays for him to get inside? Seemed like, when all else had most certainly failed come the fourth quarter, that Al did just that. All he did, despite the ignortion heaped upon him, was score 20 points on 12 shots.
We asked the question recently, will the Hawks ever treat Horford in such a way that we see 30 or 40 points nights out of him? Not to get all hyperbole on you, but Al can be the Hawks version of Karl Malone if given the chance, but nobody seems to see him in that light. It's a shame, and the Hawks are a lesser team for it. Would any team with such a weapon treat it like it was so irrelevant to the team's success? On a team like, say, Utah, wouldn't they focus a good portion of their gameplan around making sure he used a lion's share of possessions?
What a waste.
Had the Hawks gotten as creative getting Horford the ball as they are in trying to find one of their guards more long 2 point misses, or in keeping Josh Smith satisfied by whipping the ball around the horn to find him with a 22 footer, we might have seen a different result Saturday night. You know, a different result than seeing another team with a winning record waltz off the Philips Arena floor with their own special set of highlights.
The Hawks needed to play with more urgency earlier than late in the third quarter to beat the Dallas Mavericks, and it's too bad they didn't see their own All-Star as a way to make that happen.