Archives For November 2012

RECAP: Cavs 113, Hawks 111

Bo Churney —  November 30, 2012


CLE(4-12) 113 – 111 (9-5) ATL

Key Performers:

J. Smith (ATL): 25 pts, 8 rebs, 3 asts, 3 blks, 2 stls
A. Varejao (CLE): 20 , 18 rebs, 3 asts

So, mere hours after I wrote this, the Hawks give up 113 points to a Kyrie-less Cavs team, including 31 in the fourth quarter. Varejao and Thompson did most of their work on the boards in the second half, allowing Cleveland to storm back from a double-digit halftime deficit. That Hawks’ six-game winning streak is no more. (also, come on, Atlanta fans! That crowd was awful.)

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: Josh was all over the floor again, putting up a game-high 25 points and putting up statistics in every other imaginable category. He made one terrible mistake, though: he failed to box-out Alonzo Gee on the Cavaliers’ last possession. 8/10

Al Horford: Besides Josh, Al was the only other Hawks player who could grab a rebound. He did a good job in most facets of the game, but he appeared to be over helping at times, giving Varejao a couple of open looks. That wasn’t why the Hawks lost this game, though. 7/10

Zaza Pachulia: Zaza just was not good this game. He didn’t rebound and he didn’t help out at all on offense. 1/10

DeShawn Stevenson: He let Waiters and Pargo torch him at times, which isn’t what you want out of your defensive stopper. He did make his open shots, though. 5/10

Jeff Teague: Teague had six steals and seven assists, but then he let Pargo go off on him in the fourth quarter. He was 4-11 from the field, but I’ll give him a bit of a break since quite a few of those misses came after he took a hard foul int he first. 6/10 Continue Reading…

joshsmith alhorford

Do you remember, before the season started, when I said that the Hawks defense would take a bit of a step back and they would be mainly reliant on the offense to get wins? Yeah, forget that.

Thirteen games into the season, the Hawks are first in the NBA in defensive rating (points given up per 100 possessions) at 98.5, first in forcing turnovers (by percentage), and second in opponent’s field goal percentage. Considering that the offense has been a bit below average so far, the team’s 9-4 record is largely a reflection of the team’s defensive efforts.

Last season, Atlanta was 6th in defensive rating mostly without Al Horford, so it’s not like they were supposed to fall off of a cliff with Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams (both plus defenders) leaving town. It just seemed like they would tumble a little closer to the league average.

Well, Horford, with the help of Josh Smith, said no to that theory.

Looking at the numbers, Horford and Smith have been absolutely dominate defensively when they are on the floor together. According to, when the two are on the court, the Hawks have a D-Rtg of 93.7, which is five points better than the team’s overall, league-leading D-Rtg. Individually, Josh has been a terror upon opponents, holding opposing power forwards to a PER of 11.7, and opposing small forwards to a PER of 3.1. (!!!)

However, the two’s biggest contribution to the Hawks’ defense is their abilities to switch.

Started under Mike Woodson, and perhaps perfected by Larry Drew, the Hawks have always been a team that will constantly switch on screens. Josh and Al are probably two of the best bigs in the NBA when it comes to this, and they essentially offset the pick-and-roll threat of most teams. Continue Reading…


CHA(7-7) 91 – 94 (9-4) ATL

Key Performers:

J. Smith (ATL): 17 pts, 13 rebs, 6 asts, 5 blks, 3 stls
B. Gordon (CHA): 26 pts, 4 rebs, 3 asts

The Hawks led almost the entire second half, but a late Charlotte run fueled by Ben Gordon made it a game down the stretch. Thanks to some nifty passing and an all around great game from Josh Smith and Al Horford, Atlanta was able to pull through and win their 6th consecutive game.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: Smith struggled shooting the ball for most of the night and scored only 4 first half points, but he caught fire in the third quarter, scoring 13 points along with a classic airballed jumper. Shooting percentages aside, though, Smoove was everywhere. He had 5 blocks, 3 steals, 6 assists, and 13 rebounds as he absolutely abused the Bobcats every chance he got on the defensive end of the floor. His passing down the stretch was also a key to the Hawks weathering the Ben Gordon storm.  9/10

Al Horford: Much like Smith, Al was incredibly active on defense, but the most important thing was that he finally made a few shots outside the paint. He seems to be bouncing back from a perimeter and free throw shooting slump, which is only good news for the Hawks. His 3 blocks and 11 boards were huge, and he was Atlanta’s offensive cog throughout the first half when Smith was struggling with the ball in his hands.  8/10

Zaza Pachulia: When he was in the game, it felt like he got a hand on every rebound or was fouled doing so. He pulled down 6 boards of his own, but you can bet that through drawing fouls and pestering his man he gave Atlanta a bunch more possessions than they would have had otherwise.  6/10

DeShawn Stevenson: He was, for the most part, completely ineffective offensively (as to be expected). And defensively, he wasn’t exactly a world-beater either. 3/10

Jeff Teague: Aside from finding Smith for two awesome alley-oops, Teague wasn’t even close to as good as he had been in the past two games. He had a nice night from beyond the arc (3-5), but went 4-10 total and allowed Charlotte back in the game with a few silly plays late in the 4th. 5/10 Continue Reading…

After 12 games, the Hawks are sitting pretty with an 8-4 record, which is good enough for fourth best in the East. How did they get there and what can we expect in the future?

1. Who has been Atlanta’s best player so far this season?
Daniel Christian, HawksHoop: No surprise here, but Al Horford has been Atlanta’s best player. When he attempts more shots than any other player in a game, it’s almost a sure fire sign that the Hawks have accomplished their offensive goals. He’s an efficient scorer from everywhere inside the arc, an abled passer from the post, a great rebounder and a fantastic defender. He may be suffering from a sudden ineptitude at the free throw line and a broken jump shot, but his all around play in the last week and his overall effectiveness in so many areas make him the easy choice.

Bo Churney, HawksHoop: Without a doubt, Al Horford. In his presence, the team has jumped to first in defensive efficiency in a time where it’s most reliable wing defender (DeShawn Stevenson) is missing games. His only downfall so far this season (FT shooting) is likely just a bump in the road for him, as he has usually shot well from the line.

Jerold Wells, HawksHoop: Statistically Al Horford is the Alpha Male that this team desperately needs and should feature. In terms of ability (as has been the case for a few years now) Josh Smith is the best player. In the interest of a concise answer, recent Eastern Conference Player of the Week Al Horford has been the Hawks best player thus far. Continue Reading…

3-on-3: The Outside Perspectives

Bo Churney —  November 26, 2012

Los Angeles Clippers v Atlanta Hawks

A different perspective can always present a nice change-of-pace, right? Well, I recently asked a couple of bloggers from other teams what they thought of the Hawks so far this season. (you can click the red links below to check out their Twitter pages) Here are the answers they gave:

1. What do you think of the start of Atlanta’s season?

Chris Barnewall: Confuddled. The Hawks being 8-4 isn’t the most surprising thing in the world. They had a bit of a slow start, but this winning streak shows that they seem to have figured out some of those problems they were having. However, they’re still doing things that confuse me like not using Al Horford (Usage% of 21.1) more and using a struggling Josh Smith (Usage% of 26.5) way too much.

Dakota Schmidt: You have to be impressed with how this Hawks squad is doing right? This team hasn’t even lost a step after trading “the face of their franchise” Joe Johnson. While the team is currently struggling offensively, they’ve turned into a defensive power-house that’s currently #1 in all of the NBA in defensive rating.

Raj Prashad: Atlanta’s start might be the most surprising of any team not named the Charlotte Bobcats. Their only four losses on the early season have all but one come by single digits (their lone double-digit loss was to a Los Angeles Clippers team that they dismantled Saturday in Atlanta). They’ve won five-straight and the inclusion of Kyle Korver has made them one of top run-and-gun teams in the league. Continue Reading…

Center Al Horford captured the honor in a week in which the Hawks went 4-0, including a blowout of the Los Angeles Clippers. For the week, Al averaged 16.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 4.5 assists on 55.6% shooting. Surprisingly, these numbers could have been even better if he had hit his free throws at an average clip.

To celebrate, here are some highlights from Al’s week:
-Block and Alley-Oop
-Horford SWAT!
-More lobs!
-This may be more of a Zaza highlight than Horford one, but AL SMASH!

Current Hawks Trust-o-Meter:


RECAP: Hawks 104, Clippers 93

Bo Churney —  November 25, 2012


LAC(8-5) 93 – 104 (8-4) ATL

Key Performers:

Z. Pachulia (ATL) 19 pts, 12 rebs, 3 asts
B. Griffin (LAC): 22 pts, 11 rebs, 7 asts

This was easily the best game the Hawks have played all year, which isn’t entirely reflected in the final score. Atlanta outscored LA 64-36 in the middle two frames, fueled mostly by Jeff Teague, Zaza, and, for the third quarter, an efficient (!) Josh Smith. The Hawks are now on a five-game winning streak.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: Hardly played in the first half due to a classic “Horford Treatment” case. However, it appears to have worked, as he scored all of his 17 points (on 7-8 shooting) in the 2nd half. And then there was this… 8/10

Al Horford: It’s hard to back up 26/13 in this league, but he could have played better. He let Blake punk him a couple of times early, but Al kept mostly kept Blake out on the perimeter later, where Griffin was still making shots. He still looks timid pulling the trigger on jumpers this year, which I hope gets straightened out sooner rather than later. 5/10

Zaza Pachulia: Zaza missed two free throws late to deny him a 20-10 game, so I’m kind of disappointed in him… (not really) 10/10

Jeff Teague: Friday’s and Saturday’s games are JT’s first back-to-back double-doubles of his career. He had 19 points and 11 assists against the Clippers. However, he also had a couple of nice passes to fellow Wake Forest alum Chris Paul. (and five TOs total) Still, Jeff was aggressive for most of the night, which is usually tons better than the alternative. 8/10 Continue Reading…

RECAP: Hawks 101, Bobcats 91

Bo Churney —  November 23, 2012


CHA(6-5) 91 – 101 (7-4) ATL

Key Performers:

A. Horford (ATL) 26 pts, 13 rebs, 3 blks
R. Sessions (CHA): 22 pts, 4 rebs, 4 asts

I’ll start off by saying that this was a really, really fun game. The Hawks kept getting ahead by double-digits, but the Bobcats would find a way to creep back in it. In the end, the Hawks won behind Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia’s energetic fourth quarter. The team also recorded 15 blocks, which is the most in a game for the Hawks since February 15th, 2000, when Dikembe Mutombo recorded a 21-13-11 triple-double. The Hawks are on a four-game winning streak.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: Another classic Josh Smith game; he had 10 points on 12 shots, but also had eight assists and two blocks. Sure, sometimes you might wish Drew would sit him when he’s jacking up Js, but the team absolutely falls apart when he’s not on the court. So, I’ll live with it for now. 5/10

Al Horford: FANTASTIC game from Al. He was 13-17 from the field, grabbed 13 boards, and made almost zero mistakes. The Hawks were running great sets for him where he just able to lose Biyombo under the basket, which had to be frustrating for the sold-out Charlotte crowd. 10/10

Zaza Pachulia: Barely played at all before the fourth quarter, but he sure as hell brought it for that last frame. It all started at the end of the third off of a driving layup from halfcourt. After that, he was all over the place, grabbing rebounds, diving for loose ball, and even leading the fastbreak. It’s a shame he only got 14 minutes. 9/10

Devin Harris: This is the third straight strong game from Harris, which is really starting to turn my opinion on him. He had three blocks, was efficient from the field, and he had zero turnovers. 8/10

Jeff Teague: This was his second double-double on the year, which included a season high 12 assists. Once again, he probably had fewer minutes than he should have in the second half, but his play really wasn’t too great; Jeff was 1-6 from the field, but had five assists. The overall performance is still strong, though. 8/10 Continue Reading…


WAS(0-10) 100 – 101 (6-4) ATL

Key Performers:

J. Smith (ATL): 25 pts, 12 rebs, 4 blks
K. Seraphin (WAS): 21 pts, 10 rebs

Atlanta pulled out a clo… hold on, Al Horford just missed another free throw. As I was saying, Atlanta used a Kyle Korver three-pointer to beat the winless Wizards. The game would have been over sooner if… ugh, give me a minute, one of Horford’s missed free throws just set my car alarm off.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: He started to get jumper happy late in the game, but his work earlier in the game was why Atlanta even had a chance later. He had an efficient 25 and 12, and *GASP* made all of his free throw. He did, however, have six turnovers before he fouled out in overtime. 8/10

Al Horford: This was such an enigmatic game from him. He did have 10 assists, but he appeared timid on a lot of open shots, leading to a 7-17 night from him and an Andris Biedrins-like night from the line. (1-10) 15-9-10 is still pretty good, though, even if he did let Seraphin go off on him. 6/10

Zaza Pachulia: LD ended up riding the starters for most of the 2nd-half and OT, so Zaza only got 19 minutes of PT. He did have seven points, six boards, and two assists, though, including a play were he led a fastbreak with Al Horford. 7/10

Lou Williams: Didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter or overtime, which was probably the right decision. He just wasn’t playing well, as he was almost only shooting jumpers, and didn’t make a single trip to the foul line. 3/10

Jeff Teague: He was 6-18 from the field, but he didn’t have any turnovers. Unlike Lou Williams, Teague was continually getting into the paint, setting up opportunities for Josh and Al. If he was hitting floaters and layups, this game could have been over early. 5/10 Continue Reading…

RECAP: Hawks 81, Magic 72

Bo Churney —  November 19, 2012


ORL(3-7) 72 – 81 (5-4) ATL

Key Performers:

A. Horford (ATL): 15 pts, 9 rebs, 3 asts
No One (ORL): They were all really, really bad

I’m pretty sure that watching this game fried my retinas, so excuse me if I have a few spelling errors in this post. If you are in Atlanta and couldn’t watch the game because you don’t have NBATV, don’t feel bad at all. This game was awful.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Al Horford: Had 15 points and nine boards in just 25 minutes. He was easily the best player in the game and is starting to compile a nice résumé towards an All-Star bid. 9/10

Josh Smith: He scored zero points in the first half, was totally terrible, and the game was close. At the start of the second, he wasn’t playing terrible and Atlanta broke out on a huge run. This is not a coincidence. His overall game was still pretty terrible though, and his airballed free throw count on the year has reached four. 3/10

Zaza Pachulia: This game is what the Hawks need to get from Zaza in every game; he rebounded (11 boards), made a couple of shots, and didn’t really make any mistakes. 8/10

Lou Williams: You could’ve competed with Horford for player of the game honors if he wasn’t left out to dry by Larry Drew with the most awful rotation ever in the fourth quarter. 14-3-3-1-1 on efficient shooting is still a good night, though. 8/10

Jeff Teague: The seven assists were nice, but he still has work to do on his passing; a couple of times he missed when his target was wide open. As of right now, he’s near the bottom of the league in turnover-percentage, which is not what you want out of your point guard. 5/10 Continue Reading…