Monday, January 4, 2010

Too (Insert Reason Here) to Win in Miami

Four in a row.

Six of the last eight.

The 92-75 pasting of the Hawks Monday night at the hands of the Miami Heat isn't an aberration, it's now a trend.

Bird Watchers have noted that the losses have all had a certain jump shot happy smell to them, usually in the hands of The Backcourt in the fourth quarter. The Hawks doubled down on the strategy by moving the fourth quarter offense into the first quarter against the Heat, to the predictable result of a 30-14 first quarter deficit--and they never recovered from there.

But it wasn't just the fact that the Hawks are in a Lindsey Lohan type relationship with the jump shot (35 percent vs. the Heat) that hurt them against Miami. They didn't rebound, losing that particular battle 52-30. They didn't share the ball, garnering only (11) assists. They managed (2) steals, (3) blocks, and (7) offensive rebounds--all indicators of the effort level put forth by the Hawks in this game.

Poor effort usually is from fatigue, laziness, injury, or all of the above. It takes maturity, patience, and ball movement to get good shots and movement and effort to defend. The Hawks looked like they had a collective "South Beach Diet" from the night before and like they would rather have slept it off versus trying to do what was necessary to beat Miami.

Even Al Horford and Josh Smith were launching bombs, though the offense left them little choice--as every play called seemed to be a high pick so that a guard could catch the ball and shoot. Nobody other than Jamal Crawford, who was the only Hawk to get the picture that the jump shot approach was failing (again) with (12) of his team high (23) point coming from the free throw line, and Joe Johnson (11 points on 15 shots) scratched double digits in scoring.

The Heat, meanwhile, were basket attacking maniacs, outscoring the usual prolific lane scoring Hawks 40-32 in the paint, getting offensive rebounds (13), and getting many open looks from the outside with penetration and ball movement.

This is a dog day part of the season--the month before the All-Star break---but the Hawks are in danger of slipping into some old, familiar habits permanently if they don't snap out of their "but jump shots are easier" approach to the offensive end--and that will not bode well for overall growth for the season.

Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid--But Nobody Listens Anyway

It wasn't as if the Hawks added to their 2-6 record when launching (21) or more threes (they had 14 attempts), but they weren't getting into the lane either. The in-between nature of the shot selection is somehow symbolic, but we're just not clever enough to figure out what it symbolizes.

Joe Johnson is the king of taking a wide open shot and making it into a last second, impossible fallaway jumper. Big crown for that guy.

Jeff Teague made a mess on the couch one time too many apparently because even in a game that screamed for a playmaker who would get into the lane, the rookie only got to play in Jandolph time. Not a good sign for the young man or folks who might like to see their first round pick get the run he was seeing earlier in the season.

We're guessing Joe Smith wonders where the playoff team who signed him went off to. When he got injured the Hawks were a juggernaut charging through the league. Now, the Hawks look as lost as the New Orleans Saints, trying to figure out how to get the lovin' feeling back.

Shocking statistic of the night: Jamaal Magloire is only (31) years old. We were surprised because Magloire has played like a grandpa for the last few seasons and has become an end-of-the-bench entity so we assumed he was in his fifties. Seriously, the Heat announcers talked in amazement over his (10) rebounds--as if this was Satchel Paige of the basketball court. And then to find out he's only (31)--wow--we were stunned---seems like he was in the ABA.

Shameless Self-Promotion Dept., Third Floor

Hoopinion did Hawks fans (and the team if they wanted to look at it) a great service in breaking down the Hawks break downs in recent fourth quarters. THHB thinks that this game served as a prime exhibit of the team getting right to the closing argument. Case closed.

Many thanks to Peachtree Hoops for their kind words around our End of the Decade Special on the Hawks. For the record, they called it a "novel length post of awesomeness" and that's high praise indeed. We were beginning to think our intimidating presence/unassailable knowledge was scaring folks away from debating the order of the Top Hawks Happenings of the past decade. Now that reality has been restored---get over there and read and tell us where we were wrong (or right, you can do that, too)!

And big ups to Drew for getting in Ken Sugiura's Hawks coverage for the second time. Ken's doing good work there in the aftermath of Sekou Smith's departure to's nice to have someone on the beat who is willing to write about what we are talking about---and giving the community a nod in the process.

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