Quick Thought: Why oh why did Joe Johnson take so many shots on a night where he didn't have it?
That the Hawks were two points down after the first possession of the fourth quarter was a surprise, given that for the entire game, they didn't look to be playing particularly well.
Al Horford was almost invisible despite a 12 shot, 14 point, 7 rebound performance. Josh Smith was scoring, but turning the ball over as well (7 TOs), and played (37) minutes despite being bashed across the foreheard by Serge Ibaka's chin, Mutombo-style.
Jamal Crawford was on offensively, scoring 26 points on his 15 shots, including multiple trips to the free throw line.
The Hawks had only (19) assists on the night, (11) of those coming from Joe Johnson. Assists are usually the medal of honor explaining selflessness, but I am having a hard time tonight pinning that award on Joe despite his dime total.
The offense never seemed to get into gear the whole game, always appearing to be grinding out possessions rather than the natural motion of the flex offense. There is no coincidence that this appearance is due to Johnson's monopolization of the ball for the (40) minutes he was on the floor. His assists were many, but so were his shot attempts, (20) of those despite never being in a good rhythm offensively. He stopped the ball constantly, and despite his attempts to dominate possessions, never saw fit to try to get inside to draw a foul, instead attempting a chorus line of, as Nique calls them "tough shots for Joe Johnson".
This isn't a surprise since Mike Bibby was getting so thoroughly blown away defensively that he only played 26 minutes and limited the Hawks ability to get into offensive sets. Without such structure the point guard provides, the offense can devolve into an isolationist, one-on-one grindfest.
Not helping matters was that Drew played Zaza Pachulia, Damien Wilkins, and Maurice Evans for key minutes in the fourth quarter. In the (7) possessions those three were on the floor, with Josh and Jamal, the Hawks scored (2) points, the Thunder extended their lead to (9) and the game was over.
Joe went 1-5 in the fourth quarter with a charging call thrown into the mix. He took over, put the team on his back, and he broke. 6-20 is tough, 11 assists with that one turnover is fantastic. That he had 20 shots, 11 assists, 4 free throws, and that charge tells me he used a lot of possessions to get his numbers tonight.
To beat a team like OKC on their court, especially as hot as they were shooting contested threes (10-18), you need to play fundamental, almost flawless basketball. The Hawks didn't do that...they weren't bad, but they certainly weren't flawless and the gameflow reflected that all night.
The Silver lining is that we get another chance with another tip-off, the Hawks were in it despite hanging by a thread the whole game, and that New Year's Day brings a lot of football, so soak it up,
Happy New Year, everybody!!