Sunday, January 4, 2009

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

In the aftermath of the Hawks 103-100 win over the Rockets, the HHB heard the following statement:

"Wow, imagine how we'd be doing if (Ron) Artest and (Tracy) McGrady were in the lineup?"

That's an amalgam of thoughts---we could include a series of "woe is us" statements from the Hawks side, bemoaning that the home team couldn't take more advantage of a team minus two of their stars.

We have to ask: Could the Rockets have done much better with those two guys in the game?

Sounds ridiculous, but hear us out because, just like everyone else, we thought the Rockets might be a little bit more a push over without those two, something like what happened in Toronto where the Rockets displayed little red glare.

Who would McGrady and Artest take minutes from?

Van Wafer? The guy was all over the place, playing 40 minutes and going 7-17 from the field, including 3-7 from three point territory.

Brent Barry? He was 3-5 from long range in his 24 minutes, giving the Rockets the advantage they needed to make up for the Hawks ridiculous shooting.

How about Aaron Brooks or Carl Landry? Landry was ridiculous, going 5-5 with 5 rebounds and getting 18 points in 18 minutes. Brooks was 4-10 with another three for the Rockets.

Really--if you plugged T-Mac and Artest in there, do they put up significantly better numbers than that?

Not to mention (oh wait, we will) that the team played with such passion and energy that it was hard for the Hawks to match. In fact, we were relieved every time Yao Ming came into the game, because it seemed like the Hawks were playing Houston better when he was in there.

Would McGrady and Artest have impacted the Rockets so much better on this night than all those players above?

We think, for this performance, no.

Changing Lanes

We have to applaud the outstanding performance of Josh Smith, who kept pounding the lane en route to his season best 29 points against the Rockets. Smoove was 13-16, which included a couple of throw-the-clipboard-down jumpers. It's nice when it all clicks for Smoove, and there was no shot bigger than the put back jam he stuffed home late in the game off a rare errant Mike Bibby three. Yuge.

After getting beat unnecessarily by a Vince Carter bomb the night before, it was pretty sweet to pay it forward to Houston when Bibby bombed his on the Rockets. The HHB came to their collective feet when Bibby launched and high fives and fist pumps were a-plenty when it swished through. Cathartic.

Joe Johnson had 14 assists. Seriously, is there anything the guy hasn't done to get your All-Star vote yet? What's that---haven't voted? Well get on over to the sidebar and vote! Anything less than the total support of what we have for a fanbase (we are few, but mighty!) is silly. The man is cash in hand. Awesome.

We'll say it again: Even though we know that Al Horford is a stud, he is getting outplayed by Zaza Pachulia right now. Horford continues to play small inside, rushing his shots and not using his total height around the hoop. Horford needs to assert himself inside on both ends of the court, going hard to the rim and protecting it on defense. Less Alan Henderson and more--well, Al Horford.


He did indeed. Hawks fans everywhere had to be thrilled when the former 11th pick overall came on the court and showed us that he still had skills, going 2-4 with 2 assists, 2 steals and zero turnovers in his 15 minutes. He got to the lane and opened things up with aplomb, and even though his two misses were on layups where he flew to the hoop, we had to wonder what the kid is doing off the court that limits his playing time.

We will ask that question and more when the HHB rolls into the arena for the next Hawks home game on Wednesday night against the Orlando Magic.

The HHB is packing their bags for the big game on Wednesday but can still be reached in the Comments area for witty rejoinders and conversation.


Anonymous said...

The difference without McGrady, Artest, and Battier is 59% shooting. THe Hawks had their way inside even with Yao in, because he isn't mobile enough to get to 10 ft jumpers in the paint.

The Rockets' physicality with the regular lineup is matched only by Utah. The Hawks might be able to use their quickness more against that, but it's hard to call. Imagine how much worse the rebounding numbers would have been if the Hawks had the others to battle and had to shoot from outside more.

Jason Walker said...

Great points, rbubp--- I would question whether or not they (TMac, Artest, Battier) would have been able to match the energy and offensive production that the subs brought to the table that night.

The defensive might have been better than "holding" us to 59 percent, but would it have been cancelled out by the ridiculous production that they got from Wafer, Landry, et al?