Thursday, March 12, 2009

Alright! $%#&! Whew!

Nothing's easy is it?

When you are trying to portray a reputation for being a "streak-stopper" as the Hawks were attempting to do against the 12 in a row Utah Jazz Wednesday night, you would think you would be on the top of your game, all night long, to pull off the upset, eh?

Eh, no.

The Hawks spent the first half against the hard to beat (and this is Hawks history talking) Jazz playing energetic defense, and spent a good bit of time keeping the visitors off the glass. Doing so not only stymied the Jazz offensively, it got the Birds into many transition opportunities and a 55-42 halftime lead.

This, despite the weirdest lineup Mike Woodson has had out there in the first half in quite some time. Anytime Mario West logs nearly (16) minutes in a close game, the Strange Police are writing tickets.

Packed with a (13) point lead, and a blueprint of how to keep the Jazz down, the Hawks parlayed their home court advantage, know how to win, and their lead to cruise to victory.

(Laugh track)

What the Hawks spent (24) minutes building in the first half, they untied in a mere 7:17 in the third quarter. That's when Mehmet Okur stepped back and channeled Larry Bird with a high, swishing three--enough pointage to put the Jazz ahead 62-60 for their first lead of the night, and capping a 20-5 run in doing so.

All of the sudden Utah, who had struggled the whole first half to get unchallenged shots, were open every time down the floor. Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap were finding rebounding position and tip-ins around the basket. And all the while the Hawks looked toothless on the offensive end---dribbling endlessly, taking wild shots, and generally looking lost on both ends of the floor.

Alas, the Hawks found their happy place in the fourth quarter--as their energy picked up and they were able to take advantage of some sloppy play by Utah, leading to the same type of transition baskets the Hawks used to grab their halftime lead.

In the end, even missed free throws and poorly executed half court isolation sets couldn't keep the home team down--and streak busters they were, getting the 100-93 win and sending the now one game losing streak Jazz down the road.

The Good Side of the Bed is Up Against the Wall

Al Horford was very good and somewhat bad tonight. Horfie did get a 5-10 night from the field, but needed a hustle jam late to get to .500 for the evening. He rushed shots, struggled in the lane, and even picked up a punk technical foul for taunting after a YUGE Flip Murray jam. Still, he was a large part of keeping Utah off the glass in the first quarter, had (3) blocks (more on that here in a sec) and generally kept things under control inside for the game.

(OK, Sidenote: We know we heard the Utah TV team giving Horford a fourth block late in the game when the Jazz were trying to stay alive. Yet, looking at the OFFICIAL HAWKS BOX SCORE done by the HOME TEAM, Horford is credited with three. This has happened forever in Atlanta---blocks and rebounds are severely short changed. Why do players come to play in Atlanta again?)

Also uneven was the usual Josh Smith night---changing shots with his shot blocking (he also ended with "3"), finishing strong on the break and in transition in general, but also taking unneeded lunges for passing lanes, leaving the Jazz with a numbers advantage. One time Josh did this, he never even bothered to get back into the play, despite having plenty of time to do so. Toss in the usual "I got this" approach to his dribbling in transition and a few outside shots and it was business as usual for J-Smoove. Still, the HHB can't be mad at him--sure, he's a drunk uncle, but he's OUR drunk uncle.

Joe Johnson merely shot the ball 50 percent, scored 30+ points, and was perfect from the line. Tossed in (9) assists also. And Hawks Nation shrugged.

Hawks point guards (Bibby, Law) went 2-10, with (3) assists and (2) turnovers. The Hawks won by (7) against the hottest team in the league. We're not sayin--we're just sayin'.

There were a number of highlight worthy plays, and someone can let the HHB know in the Comments area if any made the Top Plays, but here were a few:

  • Mario West's ode to Chris Crawford---Hurtling through the air, slamming home a rebound jam, caution firmly into the wind.
  • Mike Bibby's perfect 1/2 court alley oop in transition to Josh, who easily turned his body in the air to catch, then finish the jam. Smith always makes these plays look easy and effortless---truth is, he's physically special.
  • Smith's tomahawk jam in transition on Kyle Korver---and the award winning sneering that followed.
  • Flip Murray's 4th quarter jam, unfortunately muted by Horford's "nanny-nanny-boo-boo" towards the shaken visitors.
  • And finally---Zaza Pachulia's surreal steal, "dash" down the court and jam. The speed of this play brought to mind the 60+ yard touchdown run once authored by cement-footed Steve Bono of the Chiefs. Jerry Sloan was turning over in his grave.
And Finally---More Whining from the HHB

Boy, you wouldn't think we all would be so cranky over here after a third straight win (50 wins, ya'll!) at home, and another big win over a highly rated, red hot, Western Conference foe.

Hahevvah---We have to mention that the Hawks tried desperately to give points away---from the free throw line. Horford looked like he was shooting his left handed (3-8), Josh Smith bagged two clutch FTs late to get his number up to (4-7), and Mario West would do better shooting them off his own head (1-4).

Fat, dumb, and stupid is no way to go through college, and sub 70 percent free throw shooting (21-33, 64 percent) as a team is no way to announce anything to the NBA world there, Josh Smith.

Then again, shooting free throws well would make a game like Wednesday night's easy---and nothing about the way Hawks win is easy.

The HHB is going to take some happy pills and enjoy the win against the Jazz--eventually---Prescriptions and snide remarks can be left in the night slot in the Comments area.


Drew Ditzel said...

"Joe Johnson merely shot the ball 50 percent, scored 30+ points, and was perfect from the line. Tossed in (9) assists also. And Hawks Nation shrugged."

you are absolutely right. i barely mentioned his performance in my recap. his game is so smooth. even when it is bad. i think in the end, joe is measured, finds acclaim in wins. period.

Jason Walker said...

Absolutely, Drew---I was trying to picture Joe with a fro like Childress or with rows like AI just to give him some edge that would capture attention---sadly, I was resigned to only watching him go 10/20, 8/8 and do it with all the emotion of my bottle of water.

Even in getting a technical---nobody saw it on TV---he must have been i-rate, but we saw nothing---It's a Joe Johnson conspiracy against any PDE (public display of emotion).

In the end, it doesn't matter--you are the one who is absolutely right---he just wants to win the game--leave all the accolades and post game gifts to others.

Oh, and his check, don't forget the check.

CoCo said...

Jason I think all of the plays made the highlight package except the Pachullia dunk.

The fact that we are all in agreement about our lack of expressing our appreciation from Joe is uncanny.

CoCo said...

or our appreciation for Joe.

Jason Walker said...

Left out the Zaza dunk, eh? Outrageous! Don't let Drew know that---

Joe should appreciate us---just our mere mentioning him should give him the proper amount of warm fuzzies needed to continue on in his All-Star role with the club.

With Joe, and a lot of semi-stars like him, it's not what he does do, but what he doesn't do and when he doesn't do them with a lot of fans. It's not wrong, it's just the way it is with that level of player---