Friday, November 27, 2009

Fifty-Four, Twenty-Five

First of all--Happy Thanksgiving. And we mean that.

Now, if you want to know about the game tonight, then 54-25. That's all you need to know.

54-25 was the score of the second half of the 93-76 home embarrassment on Thanksgiving night, courtesy of the can't-beat-em-or-join-em Orlando Magic. 

54-25 represented the worst of what this team can be. It was an accumulation of errors and poor play that turned an energetic, hard working team in one half into a lost, clueless bunch in the other.

What 54-25 displayed was a turn in the game on the Orlando offensive end, as the Magic stopped settling for outside shots and blasted a hole into the lane and creating shots and second chance opportunities that were not there in the first half. Dwight Howard, Vince Carter, and even Rashard Lewis came out banging and stunned the Hawks into submission. That frontcourt outscored the Hawks 57-22 for the game.

This led to a deterioration of shot selection on the Hawks end, as the inability to keep Orlando out of the hoop in the second half led to more time to settle in defensively for Orlando on the other end and much, much harder shots for the Hawks. In the first half, some outside shots were falling, which probably gave the hosts a significantly false sense of security as they tried to shoot their way out of the slump and instead lost more energy and momentum in the process.

54-25 showed the Hawks that they can't be so careless with possessions as they have been in previous seasons. Too many good opportunities were there for the Hawks in the first half that were frittered away by needlessly flippant passes. As the Magic battened down the hatches in the second half, the Hawks probably would have liked to have had a few of those ops back.

As the Hawks settled in for a parade of one-on-one possessions and eschewing most of what had led them to a double-digit halftime lead to begin with, they also lost the energy that permeated their production in that half.

That the Hawks shot a shockingly low (7) free throws serves to underline the passive nature of the team. There was hardly any movement, any drive/kick out and reversal of the floor to create space, any semblance of a team approach to the offensive end of the floor and the results grimly portrayed the effect of such play.


Side Bets

Kenny Smith of TNT at halftime spent the majority of his take lauding the team offensive approach the Hawks used in the first half, saying that they "finally had an offense". He took the time to show that the number of passes exceeded the number of dribbles in most possessions. Somethings tells THHB that the Hawks failed that particular litmus test of offensive prowess in the second half. Just guessing.

Smith noted that the Hawks hadn't been on national TV on a holiday in part to their lack of approach on the offensive end. If that truly is the standard of excellence by which teams are placed on that network, then Atlanta's second half performance may have exiled the team for quite a while--at the very least it showed that they are only half ready for such a forum.

While we're on the TNT telecast, we have to say that they can keep the Birds on NBATV or whoever versus having Dick Stockton do anymore Hawks telecasts. Stockton is a legend, but he is approximately (27) steps too slow in his calling of the game or even the in-game, ready-made graphics that require a peppy narration. It hinders the enjoyment of the telecast when two guys can't keep up with the flow of the game.

A-T-L A-O-K

We liked the new jerseys--and it's a shame that they couldn't be worn in a more celebratory manner. With Josh Smith and Al Horford flying and dunking in the first half, it looked like the ATL alternatives would be winners---Now, they are just as dastardly as the ill-fated McDonald's jerseys which when worn brought not-too-much success as well.


The team was sloppy, but aggressive and took care of the defensive end which allowed the Birds to get out to that (12) point halftime lead. But when the Magic adjusted with an aggressive attack inside on the Hawks, the team went into the collective fetal position and never recovered.

It showed how strong and weak the team can be---all in a (48) minute span.

THHB ignored Coach Woodson's warning about the effects of a heavy meal before the game. Demerits and other penalties can be assessed in the Comments Area.

4 comments:

rbubp said...

The question is whether Woodson will correct the ball movement issue, because I don't think is very worried about it.

THHB said...

rbubp,

That's the question--he's always quick to point out when it doesn't happen, but loads up the minutes on players who like to go 1 on 1 and he centers an offensive "philosophy" around it.

It's worked fine so far as the team has been aggressive towards the hoop. Last night, that didn't happen and my theory has always been that good team (like those we'll see in the second round and higher in the playoffs) are going to have defenses like this and our style of play has not scaled to that height.

rbubp said...

I went on a long (for a comment board) analytic about how we don't match up with the Magic and can't do what we do, too, in addition to not rising to the challenge. To be honest they would be a model team for the Hawks because they have similar athletic ability and length across the board, especially with their big guards...it's just that they are better-coached and have a monster in the middle.

They are just like the Hawks only better. So while I hoped for better, as I'm sure we all did, I'm coming out of this kind of thinking that I'm interested in seeing what we do with Cleveland, Phoenix, San Antonio, Dallas, Denver again--because I suspect that the Hawks are still a top 5 team who happens to not be in the same class as the Magic and LA. But I also suspect that no one else is in their class either.

rbubp said...

Sorry...long post is over at peachtree hoops, meant to say. Would not want to cross-post, tacky move that that is..