If you didn't, you probably picked it up during many of the Birds games this season.
It's the sound of the Atlanta Spirit coughing, as in, having to cough up more and more money to bring back the #1 reason the Hawks have taken the step forward from a team that didn't know how to win to the team that doesn't seem to know how to lose.
There were the Hawks, sitting in Chicago where they used to not be able to win, and they were getting beat in the paint, getting beat on the boards, and getting outshot from the field.
48-34 advantage for the Bulls in rebounds
20-12 advantage for the Bulls in offensive rebounds
48-43 advantage for the Bulls in shooting percentage
5-18 shooting night for Joe Johnson, including 1 for 8 in the 4th quarter.
5-17 shooting night for the Mo Evans/RFM Comedy Show
4 rebounds in 39 minutes for Zaza Pachulia.
Zero Minutes for Al Horford, Marvin Williams, and Acie Law.
A (-22) in 11 minutes for Thomas Gardner and Mario West.
UPDATE: Thanks to the Elias Sports Bureau, by way of ESPN, we find that:
That was the 85th NBA game this season in which one team out-rebounded the other by a margin of at least 14 rebounds. The record of the teams that have lost the battle of the boards by so large a margin, including Atlanta's victory, is now 9-76, a winning percentage of .106.
Editor's Note: Yow!
If the HHB had been handed those facts prior to the game we might have not fired up the Official HHB High Definition Viewing Center and spent our time waiting for the inevitable.
But here's the funny thing----the inevitable seems to be the Hawks winning these games---And Bibby is a huge reason why.
Tonight Bibby was hot in a way that is fun to see as a Bird Watcher. He was 12-21/5-10/2-2 with 6 assists and 5 big steals.
He hit three YUGE shots in the 4th quarter when Joe simply didn't have his fastball. One was a rainbow jumper over Joakim Noah, another an elbow three, and the last another shot over Noah, this time with 18 seconds left in the game, giving him his 30th and 31st points and putting the Hawks up by 6 and virtually sealing the game.
We have sung the song before, but we believe--nay--we know that Bibby's arrival has made this team go. After the game, he compared the comraderie between the guys on the team to his old team, the Sacramento Kings--another team that won a lot of games.
Bibby has anchored the team's efforts and kept the tempo to the Hawks liking (As Bret at Hoopinion would tell you---slow tempo is the go tempo for the Birds). His four second half steals were the things of veteran beauty---baiting the young Bulls team into a slack pass and then simply picking it off.
To imagine the Hawks without Bibby is to picture the Hawks as they were before they got their Proven Point Guard----a lost, talented team, doomed to lose games they shouldn't--as well as the games they should.
Which is why you can smell the green building up for Bibby---without a backup plan (literally) for the 11th year leader, the Hawks cannot go into next season without the trigger man that has made it all come together.
And He Lies to His Grandma, Too!
We said it the last time, but Andres Nocioni is one dirty player. His raking of Bibby's face when the ball was nowhere to be seen was obvious, but his bulldozer move over Bibby later in the game was even more egregious (especially since it "earned"Bibby a foul and a Technical). He inspired Josh Smith the last game the Hawks played against the guy, and tonight he pushed Bibby---guess the HHB shouldn't complain, but could he go after Mo Evans next time?
The Incredible Stationary Josh Smith
Hey, the guy definately cleaned the boards against the Bulls (14 rebounds), but one can't help but notice that the man who has finished 4th, 2nd, and 2nd in blocks per game is way off the mark this season.
He is almost a block and a half off last year's average and 1.2 BPG off his career rate. His BLK% is way down from his career rate (3.2 this season, 5.7 lifetime). Not to go all stathead on you here, but I checked with the HHB bean counters---and that's a lot fewer beans.
We have to figure that Josh is not right yet physically since this season he missed so many games early due to injury. He has gone to the hoop better and more often this season, but his lack of shot-blocking presence inside is conspicuous.
We'll see as the season progresses if Josh can get his Mojo back. It is the opinion of the HHB that shot blockers don't lose the instinct to block, something Josh has shown a-plenty already---so we have to think that it's physical--the timing, the energy---and considering the grind of the season, if he plays all the games the rest of way he might not rest enough to get it all back until next season.
Get Well Soon
Consider this the Official Pleading for Al and Marvin to get better and get on the court, because there is no way the Hawks can continue to pull off these rabbit-out-of-the-hat wins, especially without completely wearing out The Backcourt, who both played over 44 minutes against the Bulls.
The HHB is saving their change so that they can contribute to the ever growing Sign Mike Bibby Fund---Donations and comments are Welcome, as always, in the Comments Area.