We all know the script by now as we have seen it too many times. The Hawks build an early lead doing the little things that make them successful. Then inexplicably those things start to vanish slowly and with it so does the sizable lead that was built.
Atlanta was near text book in their execution in the first half stymieing the Bobcats defensively and using an inside/outside assault offensively led by Josh Smith. Then just like clock work things changed. The opponent stiffens, and the Hawks look for the easy way out. Most times that leads to an endless assault of long jumpers which is the least efficient way to go about things. No matter their successes inside, as Jason puts it, this is a guard driven team to a fault and it appears those guys have no interest in relinquishing control anytime soon.
It is simple trait that separates the great teams from the mere good teams. Great teams get the shot they want at crunch time. Teams like the Hawks settle for the first open opportunity. That signals a lack of trust in the system and a lack of trust in the other players on the floor. I won't dispute that Charlotte didn't do a pretty good job in the second half of making things hard on the interior. However, they have no shot blocking inside presence and Atlanta never resisted. Fact is they can't resist the urge to fire up shot after shot from distance.
Bret at Hoopinion uses a great baseball analogy to describe Atlanta's fourth quarter possessions. He describes it as swinging for the fences rather than being happy with the single. That was the exact thing that popped into my mind when down three points with three minutes still on the clock, the Hawks launched try after try to tie the game like there was no other option. It really is crazy and makes zero basketball sense. Joe Johnson, Mike Bibby, and Jamal Crawford are all capable shooters, but when a team is something like 1-17 from the field in a quarter, then it is time for someone to recognize that perhaps they need to get something going to the basket. Maybe get to the line where you can just see a shot go through the net to help alleviate those shooting woes. That isn't the path Atlanta chooses. They instead continue to swing for the fences no matter how many times they come up empty.
There was some discussion during the game for having Mike Bibby and Jamal Crawford on the court during the stretch run despite their defensive short comings and offensive woes. Shaun Livingston had his way scoring 22 points but did miss his last three shot attempts over the last four minutes of the game. I didn't have a lot of problem with Bibby being on the floor because he had after all hit three long distance shots in the third quarter and normally can help get the Hawks into their offense. I can't fathom any reason for Jamal Crawford who finished with two points on 1-9 shooting to be in there late. Unless of course, they were playing for the home run.
You can second guess the final possession and the personnel involved all night if you want. Fact of the matter is it shouldn't have come down to that one possession. Atlanta lost this game early in the fourth quarter despite Stephen Jackson's heroics late.
If anything this loss just compounds problems for Larry Drew. After Tuesday's loss against Philadelphia he speculated about needed lineup changes. He seemed to back off that stance somewhat during the latter part of the week. Currently this team is displaying some serious issues though and I am not sold that any lineup change from this existing roster can fix the problems. Do you stay with the status quo and hope things sort themselves out? At this juncture that remedy just feels like a band aid that simply won't fix the problem.