Ah--we love the smell of cynicism in the morning.
First things first---Yes, the Hawks did break their (4) game losing streak courtesy of the now 3-32 New Jersey Nets with a 119-89 win Wednesday night but, with the exception of the beginning of the game and some improved ball movement (read: less isolation) they did it simply by making the large amount of jump shots they took, rather than some ideological shift to what they were doing earlier in the year to improve their efficiency.
Ok, hands up who believes that the Hawks will continue to win consistently by shooting more shots from beyond (16) feet than inside (40-35)? Keep your hands up if you believe that the Hawks will be able to pull past the Celtics by only scoring (34) points in the paint?
The Backcourt took more shots than the frontcourt 32-20--they just made the shots that they took to the tune of (57) percent as a team. Joe Johnson took (13) shots and (11) of them were longer than 16 feet, of which he made (8). Whoohoo! All is well!
As we stated, at the beginning of the game, the Hawks came out motivated and with a lot of energy. They pushed towards the basket and scored----scoring almost half of their game points in the paint in the first quarter (16). The ball moved well, usually a result of some penetration and inside-out play which resulted in better 16+ foot shots than in previous games when those shots were much more contested as a result of isolation and stagnation. Ball movement was part of this for sure, but the Nets have lost all but three of their games this season for a reason---and their close out defense on jump shots in this game gave some clues.
But after that first quarter, the Hawks seemed less motivated towards going inside, especially since thier pet shot, the jumper, was successful. The Hawks led by (17) after that motivated first quarter and every time the Nets made what amounted to a run, the Hawks answered with jump shots. Good for them--they were due--but it's not what's going to make for long lasting success, as we have seen often in the past.
Eeyore Is Our Consult
Before the game we were informed that the Hawks were going to "take what defenses give us" going forward. We had to laugh---that might indulge a largely jump shooting approach as it takes much more work to move the ball around and try to get into the paint. And all the Hawks backcourt players can say "aw, shucks--we just took what the defense gave us". Indeed.
Al Horford is not going to the All-Star game, gang--at least not as a participant. Horford is used less than many frontcourt players and despite the Hawks great record and our belief of how good Horford is and how much more they should run the offense through his high and low post skills, the Hawks won't utilize him as such, which is why players like Brook Lopez and Yi Jianlian get more run and more counting stats that The Boss. He is ignored by his own team, why should we think the league will recognize him?
In the interest of fairness, the Hawks won a game where they shot over (21) three pointers, taking (22) against the Nets. This puts them at 3-6 when shooting that many in a game for the season, with those wins over Chicago, Toronto, and now New Jersey, all at home.
We Got A Pocketful of Sunshine
Josh Smith showed excellent activity early and tremendous hustle. Maybe the Hawks lost that collective juju after an easy first quarter, but Smith spent the rest of the game arguing for calls, picking up a technical, etc. Smith ended with an 11/9/7 primary stat line, but we feel like someone should continue to tell him that his griping is like being in officiating quicksand---the more you fight and struggle, the more you sink into the abyss.
We also liked the fact that Marvin Williams went in hard for a challenge jam (he missed) and Jamal Crawford did the same twice (he missed on one, fingertipped the other for the score). Williams did get a jam to go down with a nifty steal, tiptoe the sidelines, and then gather himself for a fast break jam.
In broadcast news, Bob Rathbun mentioned Effective Field Goal percentage when talking about the Hawks efficiency during the game. Thanks to places like Hoopdata.com (which is where we got our data for today), we know the Hawks were an incredible (66) percent in that particular stat. The fact that Bob Rathbun, a "seasoned" broadcaster, knows about these advanced stats and is willing to bring them forth in a telecast can definitely be stated as progress. And kudos to Rathbun for taking the time to explain it to the viewing public.
Next to the phenomenon of Flopping---the next non-basketball move that we abhor is the art of drawing fouls while not even remotely caring whether or not your shot is even heading for the basket. Now, we know that we have one of the best on the roster in Zaza Pachulia, but he doesn't do what Devin Harris does and did against Atlanta. In the manner in which many have done the same before him (Reggie Miller, Bobby Sura, and more recently, Kevin Martin), Harris lunges into players, wanting to draw a whistle for some easy points from the free throw line, often initiating contact himself. It's not good basketball to be driving to the hoop and then jump 45 degrees backwards with your shoulder down just so the ref can blow the whistle. Harris doesn't even need to do that kind of chicanery--he's so quick, like on the play where Al Horford nearly fell into the third row on a Harris stop and shoot, that he can get any shot he wants nearly--unfortunately, the shots he wanted mainly against the Hawks were free throws.