Thursday, January 28, 2010
Who can tell?
Who can tell why, throughout the course of an (82) game season, some teams can't play at a high level every night?
That's probably why all championship teams don't win (70) games every year--why the greatest of all time are--the--greatest--of--all--time.
It takes special mental toughness, great talent, and a whole lot of luck.
In the matter of the Atlanta Hawks 105-90 loss in San Antonio Wednesday night, the Hawks had the talent, but not much else.
The Spurs came out with reckless abandon, using Tony Parker and company to attack the Hawks in the heart of the defense. The Hawks seemed shocked at the affront their hosts portrayed---how dare they treat their guests so rudely? Alas, the home team shot and scored quite often from the "painted area", scoring a majority of their (36) first quarter points, the quarter that would serve as the buffer zone from which they would play from for the remainder of the game, from there.
The apex of such perpetration was, with just a few seconds left to go in the quarter, when the Hawks witnessed Parker go coast to coast to score a bucket with .8 seconds left to go. Oh, and he got fouled, too.
Usually we use this opportunity to cascade blame across the Hawks offensive approach and deride their misuse of Al Horford. But not this time.
The Hawks actually seemed interested in going into the post, at least early on, but couldn't generate any positive effects. Horford was particularly bad, as he fell into his habit of wilting against longer opponents, something he needs to resolve before facing Kendrick Perkins and Dwight Howard over the next couple of games.
The whole offense and defense seemed off, as if they had raised the curtains on the troupe and they were still getting dressed. Nobody moved on offense, the Spurs consistently beat them on the glass at both ends---the whole beginning of the game was a disaster.
Still, the Hawks kept plugging as Joe Johnson (31 points), Josh Smith (14/16/7), and Jamal Crawford (25 points) had their boogie shoes ready to go. The Hawks wasted productive, in control, volume shooting nights from both Johnson and Crawford (both shot greater than 50 percent), which kept them in the game even until the fourth quarter.
The Spurs led by as many as (28), but the Hawks had the lead down to (9) with around nine minutes left, but Crawford missed a three, Zaza turned the ball over, and the Hawks botched a fast break op and the Spurs pulled away again.
Wait Til Next Year
Guess the Hawks can't rid themselves of all of their road demons in one season---selfish of us to want them to, come to think of it---so the SA streak, which has lasted all of Tim Duncan's lengthy career, rolls on---until, as the subtitle suggests, next year.
If the AS game doesn't come knocking, Al Horford can't blame anyone but himself---well, and the coaching staff and teammates for not using him more this season. We already mentioned Horford's weakness when it comes to taller men, and it's something that bears repeating. Horford didn't want anything to do with getting close to the basket, attempting only (2) of his (10) shots around the rim. Horford was a miserable 1-8 from outside that comfort zone and was way too quick to settle for the outside jumper. He did have a nice block on a Duncan finger-roll, however---just sayin'.
Mike Bibby, in (27) minutes, posted one of the most empty lines he has authored as a member of the Hawks. Bibby missed all (7) of his shots and had a single assist and rebound. With the post hanging an "Out of Order" sign on it, the Hawks needed every bit of firepower to overcome their first quarter defensive malaise---and Bibby couldn't muster it.
Tim Duncan, especially after Parker turned his ankle in the third quarter and couldn't return, got all nostalgic on the Hawks and posted a career high in rebounds with an eye-popping (27) rebounds. We missed when the Finals began on Wednesday night because Duncan was locked in like it was Game 7, dishing out (6) assists as well and hitting all (11) of his free throws. True, the Hawks held him to a wacky 5-20 from the field, but his (10) offensive rebounds and those assists definitely helped teammates like Antonio McDyess (8-9, 17 points) have good nights from the field in his stead.
DeJuan Blair was 2-4 with (4) points and had (9) rebounds in a mere (16) minutes. In those minutes, the Spurs were +9. The lesson---we don't like the Spurs or their fancy luck.
Oh, by the way, Jamal Crawford did the 4-Ball again, giving him (23) for his career, one shy of the all time mark held by noted Hawk Hater, Reggie Miller. It's payback time, Reggie. Payback time.