Archives For February 2013

RECAP: Hawks 102, Jazz 91

Daniel Christian —  February 28, 2013 — 4 Comments

FINAL

   UTA(31-27) 91 – 102 (33-23) ATL

Key Performers:

A. Horford (ATL): 34 pts, 15 reb, 3 asts, 5 blk
A. Jefferson (UTA): 26 pts, 11 reb
[FULL BOX SCORE]

Two Hawks players came into this game on particular hot streaks. Al Horford was hoping to round out his already stellar February (62% shooting) on a high note, while Jeff Teague was looking to continue his high assist output. Add a third name to the list. Josh Smith didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (what’s new?), but he definitely qualified as “in the zone.” The Hawks have everyone on the same page right now, and the team is clicking as a result: the offense is smooth, the defense is (mostly) tenacious, and the execution has been exceptional.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: As I said, add Smith’s name to the list of Hawks on a hot streak. Smith torched the Jazz for 24 points, 14 rebounds, and seven assists. He struggled on defense against the bigger, and stronger Jazz front line, but he certainly made up for it with activity on the boards and impressive orchestration of the offense down the stretch. Again, the Hawks went to their killer set when they needed a basket most: that Smith-Horford high-low is almost unstoppable, and it put the nail in the coffin tonight in the midst of a Jazz comeback. 9/10

Al Horford: Horford has been playing out of his mind all month, but his performance tonight might have been the culminating outburst of a month full of unrecognized greatness. He scored 34 points (14-22 shooting), grabbed 15 rebounds, and blocked 5 shots. He struggled at times guarding Jefferson, but for the most part he held his ground. And that 34 points? It’s a career high. Horford was unquestionably the second best player in the entire Eastern Conference in the month of February. If he can perform with this sort of efficiency on a consistent basis, he’s a top-15 player in this league. 10/10

Kyle Korver: The main thing we have going for us here is that Korver extended his streak of consecutive games with a three-pointer made. He’s at 50 now! But in 37 minutes of play he scored 4 points on 1-4 shooting. 3/10

Devin Harris: Harris seems to have mastered the concept of a revenge game (Marvin Williams has not). He’s played well against the Mavericks, the Nets, and twice now against the Jazz (also against the Bucks, which sort of counts because he’s from Wisconsin). He loves making a statement, putting on a show for the places with which he was once so familiar. He wasn’t a world-beater tonight like he was the last time Atlanta played Utah, but he was an offensive sparkplug and he ignited Atlanta’s offense early. One thing I’m starting to appreciate about Harris’ transition game is that he really does a great job of reading the defensive gaps– it’s almost like he’s a running back searching for a hole. He just explodes through whatever seem there is and kisses the ball off the glass. He had 12 points on the night. 6/10

Jeff Teague: I’ve opined that a good portion of Horford’s recent dominance can be attributed to the almost equally as recently dominant Teague. He’s been a killer ball handler in the pick-and-pop, finding Horford at the top of the key almost without even looking– he just knows where he’s going to be now, and it’s beautiful basketball. Teague also seems to be finishing better around the rim as of late (I have not statistically confirmed this, but you guys are seeing it too, right?) and that’s been making him more of a threat (if being more of a threat was possible) coming off a screen. He started off slow tonight, but he finished the last 3 quarters playing great basketball. Another great game from Teague with 19 points and 7 assists.   7.5/10 Continue Reading…

(Via: USA TODAY - Tim Fuller)

(Via: USA TODAY – Tim Fuller)

Actually, just saying that Al Horford has been on fire lately may be an understatement.

The Hawks’ center has absolutely dominated the month of February, averaging 20 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists in the ten games during the month. He’s shot over 60% from the field, and even decided to kick it up a notch by racking up a 20-20 game against the Pistons.

Al has credited his recent play to finally getting over nagging injuries with his hamstring, and possibly getting his shoulder back to full strength after his injury last year. The extra rest of the All-Star break (in which Al shouldn’t have been resting) has only helped with Horford’s game, as he’s averaging 24 points and 12 boards in the four games since the break. His current streak of six games with 20 or more points is the longest of his career, with his previous high being three games.

In what ways has Horford been getting it done? Let’s take a look at the shot charts: Continue Reading…

RECAP: Hawks 114, Pistons 103

Raj Prashad —  February 26, 2013 — 4 Comments

FINAL

DET(22-37) 103 – 114 (32-23) ATL

Key Performers:

A. Horford (ATL): 23 pts, 22 reb, 3 ast, 2 stk, 1 blk
J. Jerebko (DET): 21 pts, 6 reb, 3 ast
[FULL BOX SCORE]

Don’t look now, but the Hawks have won their last three games and have climbed into the No. 4 spot in the East. After a mildly competitive first quarter, Atlanta rode Al Horford’s first half double-double to a 10-point lead at the half. From there, it was smooth sailing, as they coasted to a double-digit win, but more importantly, they won their second game to remain undefeated on their 11-night, nine-game road trip.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: Since the trade deadline passed, it finally looks like Smoove is having fun again. No pressure on him to meet expectations, Josh is simply picking his shots and passing well. He played great defense all over the floor and ended up with a team-best +18 in plus/minus. While most of the opposition’s second-half points came from Detroit’s Jonas Jerebko, who Smith was defending, it was in the fourth quarter, with the game fully out of reach.  8/10

Al Horford: It was a career night for the forward, snatching a career-high 23 rebounds and scoring 22 points, including one 3-point dagger in the contest. Horford did have five turnovers and was key in allowing 30-first half points in the paint to Detroit, though. Despite his inefficiencies, the Hawks will continue to ride his hot shooting streak.  9/10

DeShawn Stevenson: After missing the Milwaukee game, Stevenson struggled on the road. He was decent on offense, scoring seven points. But he couldn’t contain Rodney Stuckey in transition or off of pick-and-roll plays. Stuckey finished with a team-high 22 points and five rebounds, coming mostly against DeShawn.  5/10

Kyle Korver: All 15 of Korver’s points came from behind the arc, as he notched 5-of-7 from the 3-point line. Oh, and he hit a trey in his 49-consecutive game. 7/10

Jeff Teague: If any player took the break to recharge their batteries, it was Teague. He’s come back fired up and aggressive in the second half of the season. He played fantastic on-ball defense against Calderon, shutting down the point guard for much of the night. Teague turned the ball over just once and dropped in yet another double-double with 20 points and 12 assists. 8/10 Continue Reading…

As previously noted, it was January 4th in Detroit when the Hawks began a precipitous slide, losing eight of nine games in which Josh Smith participated just ahead of All-Star reserve announcements on January 24th.

Some additional notes about that game: A look at Josh Smith’s shot chart will show that, in a game decided by a single point, Smith shot 1-for-7 on jumpers. According to the box score, Smith was the only starter to post a negative +/-. The worst performer in individual +/-, however, was John Jenkins, who was Larry Drew’s first reserve off the bench.

If you look at PopcornMachine.net’s GameFlow, you see that Detroit went on a 19-3 run starting when Jenkins entered the game with the Hawks leading 18-15. For the game, the Hawks were outscored 26-7 with Jenkins on the floor. After Jenkins checked out for the last time with 8:30 to play in the 4th quarter, the Hawks closed on a 20-6 run, falling just a point shy of forcing overtime. For the game, the Hawks outscored the Pistons 77-59 with Jenkins on the bench. Continue Reading…

I was joined by Jameson Draper, Cole Patty, and Robby Kalland to discuss tomorrow’s game against the Pistons.

FINAL

MIL (26-28) 102 – 103 (31-23) ATL

Key Performers:

A. Horford (ATL): 23 pts, 11 reb, 3 ast, 2 stl, 2 blk
E. Ilyasova (MIL): 19 pts, 9 reb, 2 stl
[FULL BOX SCORE]

The Hawks were down 100-93 with about three minutes remaining when Larry Drew took a timeout. After another failed possession, the Hawks were able to take advantage of an Ersan Ilyasova miss, and got a three from Devin Harris after Jeff Teague pulled off an absolutely amazing wrap-around pass. Another great defensive possession turned into a Josh Smith three (!!!), and the Hawks were only down one. Al Horford the closed the game, getting a dunk off the Josh Smith-Al Horford hi-low, and then scoring with five seconds left on a fake hand-off play.

The Hawks shot 14-28 from behind the arc, which made up for the huge disparity in FG% and rebounding that favored the Bucks. This was their eighth straight game with 25 or more assists, including three games over that span with 30 or more. The victory improves the Hawks to .500 (13-13) on the road.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: Josh Smith hitting a clutch three when he was 5-18 from the field before that is the most Josh Smith thing ever. Obviously, he took some questionable shots, but he missed a lot of shots around the rim (seven shots within five feet, to be exact) that he usually converts at a higher rate. He was good defensively tonight, and probably could have had even more rebounds if he boxed out on a couple more plays. 6/10

Al Horford: He took an elbow from Monta Ellis late in the game, but that didn’t stop Al from hitting the game winning bucket. Al is averaging almost 20 points and 10 rebounds on 65% shooting over his last 10 games. This is probably the longest stretch of the year where he has looked completely comfortable with his shot, and he is even doing some good work in the post. Of course, Larry Drew is also continuing to run great plays to get Al the best looks, of which Al is capitalizing on. 9/10

Zaza Pachulia: Guess who holds the Hawks record for most offensive rebounds in a quarter? Yep, it’s Zaza now. He had seven of them in the 2nd quarter, which was instrumental in helping the Hawks erase a nine-point deficit from the first quarter. Sam Dalembert just couldn’t handle Zaza on the boards, resulting in the two getting in a couple of heated scuffles. It never amounted to much, but you can always count on Zaza to get under the other team’s skin. 7/10

Jeff Teague: This was Jeff’s ninth 20 point game in the last 16 games, a stretch where he is truly showing his improvement from last season. Not only does he appear more comfortable at finishing in traffic, but his passing game is showing that he really is one of the better point guards in the league. (he’s 10th in assists, people) And even now, I still don’t understand how he pulled off that wrap-around pass late in the game. 9/10

Devin Harris: Devin didn’t disappoint playing in his hometown. He had 21 points, and you could tell he was giving it his all when he dove into the stands to save a ball from going out of bounds. He really wanted to win this game and it showed. 8/10 Continue Reading…

I had Matt Cianfrone, an avid Milwaukee Bucks fan and blogger for ESPN TrueHoop’s Roundball Mining Company (Denver Nuggets), join me for a podcast on the NBA trade deadline and the upcoming Hawks-Bucks matchup.

Shout out to ESPN TrueHoop’s Bucksetball blogger Eric Buenning, who was supposed to join us but ended up in the hospital with a broken hand. Get well soon, Eric. Maybe you should listen to this podcast.

As the 2013 NBA trade deadline came to a close, the prize piece stayed put, when general manager Danny Ferry decided the best option for the Atlanta Hawks organization was to hold onto forward Josh Smith.

Just hours after Atlanta reneged on a trade that would have sent Smoove to Milwaukee, the USA Today reported it “highly unlikely” the power forward would re-sign with the Hawks this summer.

On Thursday, Smith said Atlanta will be on his list of teams he considers when he becomes a free agent. However, all politics is local. The Atlanta native does not want to irritate the home fans, but a person familiar with Smith’s plans told USA TODAY Sports that it is “highly unlikely” that Smith re-signs with Atlanta. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the private nature of the negotiations.

This statement presents the question: what, if anything, can the Hawks do this summer to keep Smith? Continue Reading…

Per Ken Berger at CBS, the Hawks have acquired center Jeremy Tyler from Golden State for a 2nd round draft pick.

Yesterday, Larry Drew expressed the desire for the Hawks to add another player before the deadline. This appears to be the move to fulfill that desire. Of course, filling a roster spot is about the extent of Tyler’s abilities.