Archives For February 2013

RECAP: Heat 103, Hawks 90

Bo Churney —  February 21, 2013

FINAL

MIA (37-14) 103 – 90 (29-23)  ATL

Key Performers:

L. James (MIA): 24 pts, 6 reb, 11 ast, 4 stl
A. Horford (ATL): 27 pts, 9 reb, 2 ast
[FULL BOX SCORE]

Was that Josh Smith’s final game as a Hawk? If so, he left an extremely empty feeling out on the floor. The Heat stormed past the Hawks in the fourth quarter, out-scoring the home team 40-17 in that frame to erase a double-digit deficit.

LeBron was the main reason for Miami’s havoc, causing steals with his athleticism on defense and quickly running up the floor in transition. The Hawks shot 50% from the field, but had 21 total turnovers, easily allowing Miami to stay in the game despite their spotty shooting the first three quarters.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: No, he didn’t shoot well from the field. No, he didn’t make the greatest decisions at every juncture throughout the game. However, he did one thing that we don’t see from every athlete: despite constant trade rumors, he went out and gave his best effort. He held LeBron to his least-good (saying worst seems weird, because it’s still over 50%) shooting night over the past couple of weeks, and was grabbing rebounds vigorously when he was tasked to do so. In the end, it just wasn’t enough, and to some fans, anything Josh could have done tonight never would have been enough. 6/10

Al Horford: Larry Drew put Zaza in the starting lineup in hopes of getting Al a lot of mismatches down low. This plan was successful, as Horford was able to capitalize off of a lot of easy opportunities. Defensively, he was able to keep Bosh and Haslem under lock-and-key, and was even forced to defend LeBron a time or two. 9/10

Zaza Pachulia: Z was definitely instrumental in disrupting Chris Bosh, but I felt like the team could have used more from him. He was wild on a couple of rebounding chances that he should have controlled, and really didn’t contribute as much on the offensive end like he usually does. His best highlight was probably a hard foul on LeBron that was called a flagrant. (which should probably be rescinded by the league in the coming days) 5/10

Jeff Teague: I believe the term to describe Jeff decision making from this one is “bad”. He tried to make too many risky passes, not realizing that LeBron lives off of intercepting risky passes. The six turnovers that he was credited with don’t even accurately tell the story, as he was responsible for a couple of more due to his lack of focus. He also missed a ton of open shots. Tough way to see Jeff’s stretch of great games end. 3/10

DeShawn Stevenson: He made his open shots, but I feel like he should have shot a couple of more times in this one. Like Josh, he was also tasked with guarding LeBron in the halfcourt, which he probably didn’t do as well as Smoove; a few of the defensive breakdowns that LeBron caused late in the game came off when DeShawn was guarding him. 5/10 Continue Reading…

Week in Review: Road Wins!

Bo Churney —  February 19, 2013

Some improvement! Dallas and Orlando aren’t exactly contenders, but the Hawks got two needed wins on the road.

The battle against the Mavs was a great game, and the Hawks were able to escape Dallas with a rare road victory. After that, they blew the doors off of Orlando, winning 108-76. In both games, Josh Smith was dominant, shooting over 60% in both matchups and posting better than 25-10-5 in each game. Smoove’s efforts help move Atlanta up to 17th in this week’s edition of Marc Stein’s power rankings.

power-rankings

The trade deadline is Thursday at 3pm. The Hawks are still rumored to be in discussions with about every team imaginable in hopes of dealing Josh Smith. A lot could happen in the coming week.

What we do know is that the Hawks will host LeBron James and the Miami Heat on Wednesday in Philips Arena, followed by what is likely to be the final visit of the Sacramento Kings in Atlanta. After that, they head up north for road games against Milwaukee and Detroit, which are two very winnable games.

Being only a game behind Brooklyn for fourth in the East, going 3-1 over this stretch would be a great way to start off after the All-Star break. Going under .500 over that span, however, would be… bad.

4-on-4: Hawks at the Break

Bo Churney —  February 16, 2013

Why go 3-on-3 or 5-on-5 when you can go 4-on-4, and have to awkwardly decide whether you can play full court or half court?

Anyways, it’s the All-Star Break and the Hawks currently sit at 29-22, good enough for sixth in the East, all while mired in constant trade rumors about Josh Smith.

What do the Hawks experts think?

1. Have the Hawks exceeded or disappointed on your expectations for them so far? Or are they exactly where you expected them to be?

Bo Churney: After the hot start to the season, it could be easy for someone to say that the Hawks have disappointed, but overall, they are about exactly where I thought they would be: middle of pack in the East, with an outside shot at 50 wins. However, one could easily look at the loss of Lou Williams as a major reason to why the Hawks aren’t exceeding expectations right now.

Buddy Grizzard: Only the Hawks could exceed expectations while disappointing. If the Hawks had won just one more game, say the 1-point loss at Detroit, the team would be even in the loss column with 3rd-place Indiana. Tantalizingly close to a breakout, but somehow still same-old, same-old. How completely Atlanta Hawks is that?

Robby Kalland, Peachtree Hoops: They’ve been regular (shout-out Ivan). I had predicted them to go 45-37 at the beginning of the year so 29-22 is just above that pace. Like many recent Hawks teams this squad seems to play to the level of their competition as they’ve had some impressive wins (MEM, OKC, LAC) but had disappointing losses (WAS, CLE, NOH). They’ve been more exciting, but right around where I expected them to be.

Raj Prashad: Atlanta heads into the break clinging to the No. 6 seed, so I’d say it’s about where I expected them to be after temporarily rebuilding this summer. Continue Reading…

RECAP: Hawks 108, Magic 76

Raj Prashad —  February 13, 2013

FINAL

ORL  (15-37) 76 – 108 (29-22) ATL

Key Performers:

J. Smith (ATL): 30 pts, 10 rebs, 5 asts, 2 blk
A. Nicholson (ORL): 10 pts, 6 rebs, 1 ast
[FULL BOX SCORE]

What a way to go into the All-Star break. Atlanta started the game shooting just 1-of-10, but controlled the boards from the tip and jumped out to an early 25-19 lead after the first. Led by Al Horford and Josh Smith, the Hawks would score 30 or more points in back-to-back quarters as they ran away with their most lopsided victory of the season.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: For the third time this season, Smoove had a 30-point, 10-rebound and five-assist night, joining LeBron James as the only player in the NBA to do so at least three times. Smith was unstoppable, showing his range all across the floor. Oh his 13 made shots, only two came from 3-point range as Josh really controlled the offensive end along with teammate Al Horford. 9.5/10

Al Horford: For the second-consecutive game Horford and Smith led Atlanta to a strong win. Horford got it going early, ending the first quarter with six of his 26 points and seven of his 12 total rebounds. Horford and Smith dominated a young frontline of Andrew Nicholson and Nikola Vucevic up and down the floor, stepping out for midrange jumpers and forcing the duo into a combined four turnovers. 9/10

Anthony Tolliver: The forward has been respectable in the starting lineup, giving Atlanta depth off the bench and providing a big body on the boards. Tolliver was solid once again, scoring seven points and grabbing three rebounds in 25 minutes on the floor. This is Atlanta’s third win in four games with Tolliver in the starting lineup. 6/10

Jeff Teague: There isn’t much Teague needs to do on the offensive end when Smith and Horford have it going like they did Wednesday. He did dish out 11 assists along with his seven points and only committed one turnover. He wasn’t anything special on defense, but got the job done against Jameer Nelson. 7/10

Devin Harris: It really could have been an ugly night with the way Harris played. He missed all six shots he took, allowed Arron Afflalo and JJ Redick to get pretty much whatever they wanted on the offensive end and couldn’t find any sort of consistency, turning the ball over three times. The silver lining was his five assists and three rebounds. 3/10 Continue Reading…

Over the past few days, sources have said that the Hawks are currently in talks with the Nets about sending Smoove to Brooklyn. The rumored trade could be Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, and a first round pick for J-Smoove.

My first thought was that there was no way this rumor could be true, but reports continue to insist on its existence. I see why Brooklyn would want to do the deal, but this would make absolutely no sense for Atlanta.

Kris Humphries hasn’t been good this season. His defense isn’t really good and he’s been inefficient, although his rebounding is extremely solid. (as it’s been for his entire career) He’s also scheduled to make $12 million next year, which would be a strange way to spend all that cap space that Danny Ferry has been coveting. Continue Reading…

FINAL

DAL(22-29) 101 – 105 (28-22) ATL

Key Performers:

J. Smith (ATL): 26 pts, 13 reb, 6 asts
D. Nowitzki (DAL): 24 pts, 7 reb, 2 ast
[FULL BOX SCORE]

Some games are filled with anomalies, filled with the abnormal and ridiculousness of chance. This was one of those games. I’ll get more into it when I specifically assess his play in the reaction grades, but Josh Smith was money from everywhere tonight. He was 4-5 from beyond the arc and was connecting on jumpers all over the floor. What? Yeah. That sentence is a real thing. It seems like this happens maybe 3 or 4 times a season. It seems like Smith is destined to shush the “haters” for a lone night, which of course only emboldens his quest to launch jumpers from a myriad of different locations across the hardwood. But does it matter? Should we really care?

By now we should know to take the good with the bad, to appreciate Smith’s incredible play despite some glaring faults. On nights when those faults are washed away, his game seems almost complete, almost THERE, wherever that is. And on nights when Smith is as in sync with his outside game as he was tonight, all the other good he does, all the other positives he brings every night only seem magnified (but of course any uncommon or prevalent outlier in another statistical category can stand out in a negative light). It wasn’t just Smith, though. Sure, he was the one who was draining clutch three PUJITs (for those of you who don’t know: Pull Up Jumper In Transition), but everyone was more or less on their offensive game tonight. Defensively, there were some lapses, and those will be covered, but on nights when Smith isn’t slogging his way through a sub .500 field goal percentage, it’s nice to enjoy. So I enjoyed it. And I’m sure Josh did too, which is just what I’m worried about.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: I already said most of what I had to say in the intro, but while I took that time to appraise the validity and awesomeness of his game, I’ll take this time to extrapolate on some of the more negative aspects. He had 5 turnovers, one of which was absolutely ridiculous– literally it was like he forgot that he was supposed to dribble. He also picked up 5 fouls, three of which I believe came in the fourth quarter. And I point these things out, and I still can’t shake the befuddled excitement I felt when he swished that three to put the Hawks 99-94. You knew it was going in, and you knew it made no sense. You saw him trailing on the break, and everything was telegraphed perfectly. Josh was going to catch it. Josh was going to swish it. Rick Carlisle would throw his hands in the air. We’d all laugh and celebrate and high five and tweet stupid things. There’s also the six assists and 13 rebounds thing, too, which was certainly helpful. 9/10

Al Horford: Horford is always a stabilizing force, a beacon of consistency within a single game. On the whole, he can be, at least while recovering from injury, a tad bit inconsistent. But within single games, and now more and more frequently as he seems to be completely in the swing of things, we are reminded of how calming and how talented and how good Horford really is. He was 10-14 from the field tonight (Smith was 10-15), he grabbed 10 rebounds, and was tied for the best +/- of any player in the game (I know single game +/- is pretty “meh,” but it’s just another indication that Atlanta benefits from his presence). He scored in the post, he hit a runner, he made his jumpers, and he was the recipient of ANOTHER beautiful high-low pass from Josh Smith. 8/10

Anthony Tolliver: Larry Drew loves his Anthony Tolliver, and so do I, only in smaller doses. Tolliver can be an effective spark-plug, but he’s not an effective full time rotation guy. He played 24 minutes today, missed all four of his shots, and split his free throws. His defense is generally suspect and sometimes I’m confused why he’s in when he’s in. But that’s not meant to be an insult. I get the Tolliver appeal. He can occasionally give this team a huge lift, a huge energy boost. But he didn’t tonight. 2/10

Kyle Korver: The streak continues! Korver has now made a three-pointer in 44 consecutive games, which is really quite an incredible accomplishment if you think about it. He was solid tonight, and helpful defensively (although for a stretch Vince Carter did experience limited success on him), but what I love about him so much, aside from his brilliant perimeter shooting, is his ability to be a decoy. On these high-low plays with Josh and Al, so much of its success relies on an opposing big waiting to hedge Korver off of an off-ball screen so that Korver’s man can recover. When the opposing big hedges: BOOM. Our guy is open. Anyway, more on that in a later post. 10 points, 2-4 on threes– seems like just another day at the office for Korver. 5/10

Jeff Teague: And to think I went through a phase of doubt. This was about a month ago, when the Hawks were in the midst of their more serious struggles. I doubted Jeff Teague. I was, as I always am in my head however much I try to hide it, super reactionary and went to ESPN’s Chad Ford’s draft board and looked at potential point guards to draft. Why would I do that? I feel silly. Because Teague is awesome, he’s incredible. He’s relentless in transition, had several great drives in which he finished with a scoop, and he is finding his teammates more than he ever has (9 assists tonight). Now, defensively, there are still some issues. Tonight he really struggled fighting through picks, even  when he went under the screens he allowed a lane for Collison. He also gambles far too much, allowing his man to pull out in front of him in hopes that he can swipe the ball from behind. He has his faults, and they were on display tonight, but they’re fixable. And Teague is great. He’s fun to watch and he’s ever-improving. He finished the night with 20 points on 7-14 shooting, 9 assists, 4 rebounds, and just(?) three turnovers. He’s strung together quite a few impressive games in a row now. 8/10 Continue Reading…

The slumping Hawks continue to fight through a tough stretch of playoff-contending teams, losing two of their three games this week and falling two spots in ESPN’s Power Rankings.

Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 6.07.18 PM

Atlanta couldn’t quite fight through the Indiana Pacers, Tuesday, as Paul George went off for 29 points, scoring 11 points in the third quarter and dropping the Hawks for their second-straight loss.

Behind Jeff Teague and Josh Smith, the Hawks bounced back against the Memphis Grizzlies. Teague scored a game-high 22 and Atlanta bounced back in a big way, winning 103-92.

Atlanta concluded their week with a disappointing loss to the lowly New Orleans Hornets, giving up a triple-double to Grevis Vasquez and losing by double digits.

The Hawks will look to climb back up the rankings with games Monday in Dallas against the Mavericks and Wednesday at the Orlando Magic.

RECAP: Hornets 111, Hawks 100

Raj Prashad —  February 9, 2013

FINAL

NOH (17-33) 111 – 100 (27-22) ATL

Key Performers:

J. Smith (ATL): 23 pts, 6 reb, 8 asts, 2 stl, 2 blk
G. Vasquez (NO): 21 pts, 11 reb, 12 ast
[FULL BOX SCORE]

Friday night’s loss was a tough one to swallow just days after a big win over the Memphis Grizzlies. A 16-point third quarter doomed Atlanta as the Hawks came out flat after taking a one-point lead into the half. Grevis Vasquez notched his first career triple-double, Ryan Anderson dominated the fourth quarter and the Hornets ran away with one on the road.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: It was another strong night for the forward, as he really dominated against Anthony Davis, but struggled defending the perimeter-shooting Ryan Anderson. Smith had a team-high 23 points and was on the verge of a triple-double with eight assists and six rebounds, but he gave up the biggest three of the night to Anderson that helped the Hornets pull away for good. 8/10

Al Horford: In what has been pretty much the norm this season, Horford struggled battling with a stronger, bigger center. Robin Lopez made Horford work for most of the night, disallowing anything to go through the forward/center. Horford finished with 12 points and six rebounds, but through three quarters, he had just two points and three rebounds. By the time he got his rhythm going, it was simply too little, too late for Atlanta. 7/10

Anthony Tolliver: Before the game, LD said coming into training camp Atlanta’s favorite lineup involved Tolliver with the core of Teague. Korver, Smith and Horford. After a strong outing against Memphis, Tolliver returned to the starting lineup against New Orleans and had another solid night. He had five points and five rebounds, but really attacked the glass on each end and was very active on the defensive end. 6/10

Kyle Korver: Not much more you can ask of Kyle than his 17-point, five-rebound, five-assist night. He played great defense on a much quicker Eric Gordon, only allowing him to score three times in man-to-man defense. Korver also broke the Hawks’ franchise record for consecutive 3-pointers made in a season, with 43-straight games. 8.5/10

Jeff Teague: Teague’s 21 points and nine assists will get rightfully looked over due to his six turnovers and struggling defense on New Orleans’ Grevis Vasquez. The point guard was lazy with the ball, sending it over player’s heads or into the defense. On the defensive end, Teague simply couldn’t fight through screens. SIx of Vasquez’s seven makes came from being freed up by either running through baseline screens or by running pick-and-roll with a big.  6/10 Continue Reading…

RECAP: Hawks 103, Grizzlies 92

Bo Churney —  February 7, 2013

FINAL

 MEM(30-18) 92 – 103 (27-21) ATL

Key Performers:

J. Teague (ATL): 22 pts, 2 reb, 13 ast
Z. Randolph (MEM): 20 pts, 7 reb, 2 ast
[FULL BOX SCORE]

After dropping inexplicably to Chicago, and then being forced to play a 60-foul game against Indiana, the Hawks finally got a good win, holding the lead for nearly the entirety of the game. It wasn’t just the 58-48 halftime lead that helped, but the Hawks actually continued their good play after the break, starting the 2nd half on a 14-2 run. The run was a result of great defense, and great distributing by Jeff Teague, who earned three assists during that span. Post game, Larry Drew credited much of the effort to the start from Anthony Tolliver, who played great on the defensive end, and allowed Josh and Al to switch more freely on Memphis’ frontcourt.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Al Horford: Al was forced into foul trouble early by Marc Gasol, but he was able to rebound in the 2nd half, and finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Horford helped seal the game late, scoring seven points in the final six minutes of the game. 8.5/10

Anthony Tolliver: Getting his 2nd start of the season, AT was key in keeping Tayshaun Prince and Zach Randolph in check early in the game, and even hit a few key buckets, including the three that put the Hawks up by 22 in the third quarter. 7/10

Kyle Korver: After a rather appalling performance against Indiana, Korver rebounded in this one, shooting 5-8 from the field. He was extremely active on the boards and on defense, even though he did have a couple of slip-ups on that end. He seemed excited to have his Creighton pal Tolliver in the starting lineup, commenting that “[Anthony] went to Creighton University, so he learned how to play really solid basketball there, obviously.” 6.5/10

Jeff Teague: Aggressive Jeff is the best Jeff; there’s just no way around that. He lead the team with 16 points and eight assists at HALFTIME! He finished with 22 points and 13 assists, good enough for his fourth 20-10 game of the season, three of which have been in the past month. 10/10

Josh Smith: He made his jumpers in this one, which makes his line look better than it probably should, but he was active on the boards, grabbing 11 of them. He also had six assists and only one turnover. Wait… one turnover? That can’t be right… *checks stats again* Huh. Anyways, Josh did a good job of keeping Zach Randolph out of the paint, which limited Z-Bo’s rebounding opportunities. Most of all, it looked like Josh was giving a much better effort than he had in the previous games. 9/10 Continue Reading…

RECAP: Pacers 114, Hawks 103

Raj Prashad —  February 6, 2013

FINAL

IND(30-19) 114 – 103 (26-21) ATL

Key Performers:

J. Teague (ATL): 24 pts, 2 reb, 8 ast
D. West (IND): 15 pts, 7 reb, 4 ast, 5 stl, 3 blk
[FULL BOX SCORE]

After a demoralizing loss to the shorthanded Chicago Bulls, Saturday, the Hawks were looking to get back on track against the surging Indiana Pacers. They did for one quarter- showing impressive ball movement and holding Indiana to just 18 points int he first. From there, things started to go downhill. In the opening quarter the bench held Atlanta together, but the starters simply couldn’t sustain. Paul George scored 11 of his 29 in the third as the Pacers built an 11-point lead heading into the fourth.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Al Horford: Horford got into foul trouble early and struggled to keep up with Indiana center, Roy Hibbert on the defensive end. Despite playing with his back against the wall, Horford notched 15 points, eight rebounds and two assists before fouling out in the fourth. 7/10

DeShawn Stevenson: DeShawn had a six points and four rebounds on the night, possibly showing that he’s starting to emerge from the slump that has hindered his shooting lately. 6/10

Kyle Korver: The good is that Korver extended his 3-point shooting streak to 41 consecutive games. The bad is that he only made 2-of-9 3-point attempts for 10 points, grabbed one rebound and allowing Paul George to drop a team-high 29 points. 5/10

Jeff Teague: Teague was pretty fantastic in his return home. The point guard had 24 points in 35 minutes, shooting 52 percent from the floor. He did a great job of shutting down George Hill on the defensive end and dished out eight assists on the offensive end. Aggressive Teague is generally a good Teague. 9/10

Josh Smith: Like my colleague Buddy said in the comments section of his most recent article, it really does seem that Josh has already checked out. Smith was the closest Hawk to a double-double, grabbing 10 boards and scoring nine points over 39 minutes. While his numbers look good on paper, Josh seemed to go through the motions throughout the game. He got utterly worked– as David West’s stat line above shows– on defense and was pretty nonexistent for such a transcendent player. 5/10 Continue Reading…