Administrations come and go. Generations of folks have filed through Philips Arena since its opening in 2000. Two things you can count on every Hawks season.
1. There will be a ridiculous amount of purple and gold in the house whenever the Lakers visit.
2. Kobe gonna score.
Sure other franchise's fans stop through the arena, like Knicks fans, but when their team stinks, they dissolve somewhat into the society of Atlanta and don't show up as much in droves. Lakers fans, though, come out no matter what.
The Lakers stink this season, evidenced by their particularly poor defensive rating. They openly despise power forward Carlos Boozer, with a lot of the fan base asking, nay, begging for Ed Davis to start instead of Boozer.
All of which set up the annual invasion of Lakers fans into Philips Arena, but this year, like most recent years, the Hawks would send them home very unhappy. After all, the Hawks are fully healthy, have played together for a while, and are at home, where they hadn't lost so far in this oh-so-young season.
It was clear from the tip that the Hawks were going to attack the much maligned Boozer, and they did, with Paul Millsap and Al Horford taking turns using Booze as their own personal offensive punching bag. It wasn't long before Davis had replaced Boozer in the first quarter.
Other than that, though, the Lakers were feisty and eager to get their, wait for it, second win of the season! They were energetic on offense, with Jeremy Lin and others not named Kobe, attacking, scrapping and scoring. Kobe was on, too...this was not going to be one of his patented 10-30 nights. His career percentage at Philips is 46% anyway. Even his 2003 AS Game appearance in Atlanta featured Kobe messing up Jordan's game winning shot by knocking down an improbable three pointer to send that game into another overtime.
The Hawks looked lethargic on both ends, at least when they weren't attacking Boozer, and by the time Bud's usual minutes saving approach had the entire second unit on the floor, the Lakers stretched out their lead.By the time the second quarter had ended, the Lakers, the team that had won one game all year and was the worst defensive team in the league, had a 67-52 lead.
All shots were falling, all whistles going their way, including a phantom three point foul when Korver whiffed on Nick Young but got called for the foul anyway. When Robert Sacre, the lightly used center, banged in a couple of jumpers, the feeling was in the air that this was not going to go the Hawks way and the Lakers fans were happy to breathe that air. Kobe wound up with a 10-18 game, scoring 28 and getting four rebounds and three assists in the process.
The Hawks gamely fought back, including a fantastic run right as the second half began that had to have Lakers watchers shaking their heads in a usual fashion this season. But the Hawks never could pull even, or get a key rebound or stop late, and by the time a well run play to tie the game at the game's final buzzer saw Pero Antic miss a wide open three-pointer, the Lakers, and their fans, had that second win.
Notes on a sad, sad, sad game:
Paul Millsap was a maniac. Millsap was dominant inside and out, scoring 29 points and drawing eight rebounds. When asked after the game whether he was frustrated, he responded, "On a scale from 1 to 10? A 10."
Part of the issue is Coach Budenholzer's environmentally efficient minutes managing program. Millsap played 32 minutes, Horford 30, Teague 30. I appreciate Bud's long term vision for keeping guys fresh throughout the season, but you do need to win games, too. There's no prize for being the best rested at the end of the year, no ribbon for being tops in that field. If Larry Drew or Mike Woodson had the same rotations, they'd surely take a hit for it. But because most of us believe in not grinding our players down in the regular season as those guys did, we'll wait and see.
Another issue is who is taking the shots. Sure, the defense has something to do with that, but come on, these are the Lakers and while they were energetic, they were far from prohibiting the Hawks from getting what they wanted. Too often what was wanted was a Thabo three-pointer, a Pero jump shot or a selection from the Mike Scott volume launcher.
Al Horford was fifth on the team with eight shots. Kyle Korver had six shots. This team will not win many games with Thabo, Antic and Scott shooting more than those two.
Defensive rebounding has far too long been an issue for the Hawks. For whatever reason, strong defensive rebounders have eluded the good guys. The Hawks were beaten again on the boards, including a few key late game second chance buckets for the Lakers, including a game sealer when the ball went right through Millsap's hands and into Jordan Hill's.
Jeremy Lin may have been effective on the offensive end, but he got torched by Jeff Teague (8-14, 23 points) time and time again on the way to the hoop. This was a night where I might've liked to see Jeff shoot 20 times going to the basket -- but when you are only playing 30 minutes, unless your name is Mike Scott, it's hard to get that many shots off in that time.
Remember when we were told the Hawks had "no interest in either Chris Kaman or Jordan Hill" at last season's deadline when the Lakers might've been interested in trading them? Kaman has done well off the bench in Portland and Jordan Hill went 8-17 for 18 points, and 10 rebounds against the Hawks tonight. Interested?
The Lakers' faithful may have a large amount of disdain for Carlos Boozer, but he came across big time after Scott tried to keep him off the floor whenever Millsap and Horford were on it after that disaster first quarter. Boozer was 10-14 (!) for 20 points and 10 rebounds. Give him an extension, Lakers!
Lastly, but certainly not least, was the return of Lakers' crowd favorite Nick "Swaggy P" Young to the Lakers lineup, where he promptly hit some big shots off the bench, going 6-10 for 17 points. Young joins a long, long list of players who have made sure they got off the injury list in time to play in Atlanta. Nifty, he said sarcastically.
Chin up, Hawks fans, as Dolly Parton once sang, one day the tide's going to turn and it's all going to roll (our) way.