Archives For Al Horford

If not for questionable referee decisions in three of the Hawks’ first 10 games, the Hawks could easily be 8-2 right now and within striking distance of the top seed in the East. If such were the case, it pains me to report that it would vastly overstate where the Hawks are as a team. The Hawks are presently 23rd in the NBA in defensive efficiency, allowing 106.5 points per 100 possessions, and look nothing like a contender. What follows is a look at where the Hawks are, speculation on where the franchise is headed and what role exiled general manager Danny Ferry might play.

The Hawks’ five worst shooters thus far have been Kent Bazemore (26%), Pero Antic (37%), Thabo Sefolosha (38%), Shelvin Mack (41%) and Mike Scott (44%). In spite of the early shooting struggles, these five players combined to take 38 shots against the Lakers, making only 11 (29%). Al Horford, who is second on the team in field goal percentage among players with at least six games played (54%), took only eight shots against the Lakers, making seven (88%). Why did Mike Budenholzer allow his worst shooters to chuck with reckless abandon when Horford was on fire? Could it be that Atlanta’s coaching staff is concerned about placing too great an offensive burden on Horford, in light of his injury history?

I spent most of the summer pleading with the Hawks to add a difference maker in the front court. I stated the case for Greg Monroe before Adrian Wojnarowski confirmed that the Hawks had in fact engaged the Pistons in trade discussions. I argued for Aron Baynes. The Hawks have been out-rebounded by eight of ten opponents this season. Horford is an undersized center who has been asking for help in the front court for years. Paul Millsap is an undersized power forward. The Hawks are currently getting nothing from reserve big men Elton Brand, Mike Muscala and rookie Adreian Payne, none of whom are the rim protector the Hawks need. Gorgui Dieng, presently tied with Al Jefferson for the 6th-best PER among centers (20.83), ahead of notables Roy Hibbert (9th), Dwight Howard (11th) and Horford (14th), could have been that player. But Ferry passed on him, not once, but twice in the 2013 NBA Draft. Continue Reading…

After getting dismantled by the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday, the Atlanta Hawks returned home to face the 1-9 Lakers. Los Angeles has been terrible on the season, and their league-worst defense offered an easy opportunity for the Hawks to bounce back. That wasn’t the case, as the Lakers came out firing, and put Atlanta at a disadvantage early.

The Hawks defense was awful, allowing Kobe Bryant and company to get whatever they wanted on the offensive end. LA dropped 31 points in the first quarter, and they had one of their most efficient halves of the young season. Paul Millsap scored 13 of the Hawks’ first 15 points, but had to go to the bench due to foul trouble. The rest of the team could only muster up seven points in the first period.

Things didn’t get much better for the Hawks in the second, as the Lakers started to pile on. The Hawks started to show some life on the offensive end, but defensively they struggled for the second straight game. The Lakers were moving the ball more than they had all season, and Atlanta’s rotations weren’t sharp. Nick Young came off the bench in his first game and burned the Hawks, seemingly hitting every shot he took. The Hawks trailed 67-52 at the half, and things weren’t looking good for the home team. Continue Reading…

This week in the Southeast, the Washington Wizards are handling their easy schedule as they should, leading the division. They’re still missing Bradley Beal, so there’s no way to get a read on how good they are early. After the Wizards, we have the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks. Currently tied at second, Miami is trying to figure out how to make the best of their new roster, and the Hawks are just trying to earn a little respect. Meanwhile, Charlotte was the first team in the division to go west and lets just say it wasn’t ideal. Finally we have the Orlando Magic. A competitive team, but they can’t seem to stay healthy.

Washington Wizards, 7-2, 2nd in the East, 2-0 this week WAS

The Wizards only had two games this week, with neither team being very good, and both at home. Once again, it’s hard to get fully on board with this team until we see them get some quality wins against good teams. That said, it’s hard to knock on a team that’s 7-2. Not everybody wins the games they’re supposed to win, and the Wizards are doing that, without Bradley Beal no less.

Atlanta Hawks, 5-4, 5th in the East, 3-1 this week ATL

The Hawks responded to their slow start, by ripping off three straight wins in a row. One of those was against the Knicks, but they beat a decent Jazz team, and a legitimately good Miami Heat team. They did however take a pounding against the Cleveland Cavaliers. In their defense, it was a back to back on the road, but points get knocked off for getting dominated the way they did. Even so, Atlanta is starting to figure out how to play with Al Horford in the lineup. Now if they can just start getting some respect from the general public… Continue Reading…

In front of a sellout crowd of 20,562, the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Atlanta Hawks 127-94.

Mike Budenholzer and the Hawks came into the game with a better record than the Cavs, but it didn’t take long to see who the better team really was. The Cavs went on a 21-1 run in through the middle of the second quarter, which turned a 16-point lead into an insurmountable 35-point deficit.

Paul Millsap led the Hawks in scoring with 16 points on 7-for-13 shooting to go along with seven boards, four helpers, a steal and a block. Sadly for Atlanta, only he and Al Horford seemed like they were ready for the game. Horford scored 12 points on 6-10 shooting in 19 minutes. In a surprising twist, Kyle Korver — who is one of the best shooters in the NBA — only had one shot attempt and added one assist. It’s strange to see a Korver stat line full of zeros.

Hawks were out of the game so early that coach Budenholzer decided to sit Korver for the entire second half. “Korver is fine, the game was out of reach so we wanted to try some other guys out there,” said Budenholzer after the game.

Cavs hit their first 11 3-pointers, including a fadeaway 3 at the end of the first quarter by rookie Joe Harris. “There isn’t much you can do when a guy is hitting shots like that at end of the quarter,” said Jeff Teague, who scored five points and tallied three assists. “We got discouraged out there when they started hitting those shots, we started putting our heads down and it just got worse.” Continue Reading…

Al Horford had one of the worst games of his career on Wednesday night against the Jazz. He was missing shots and playing terrible defense; nothing was working for the two-time All Star. Horford quickly redeemed himself on Friday night, scoring the first seven points of the game to spark a wire-to-wire victory for the Hawks over the Miami Heat.

Horford opened up with two jumpers, including a corner 3 to get the game going. He then drew a foul on James Ennis — who was starting for the injured Dwyane Wade — and converted both free throws. The Hawks then followed with a Kyle Korver 3-pointer and a Thabo Sefolosha dunk, opening a 12-1 lead on the Heat and setting the tone for the entire game.

“We came out with a sense of urgency and played well in the first quarter,” said Jeff Teague, in what is probably the most generic Jeff Teague quote of all time.

The real story from the Hawks in this game was the superb balance that was exhibited on offense. Eight different players scored at least 10 points, including a 12-point, 5-for-5 performance from Shelvin Mack off the bench. This was a much needed performance from Mack, who had scored just 10 points on 3-for-15 shooting all season before his mini-explosion. Continue Reading…

Dennis Schröder’s play so far in the 2014-15 season has been a revelation.

Schröder scored 12 points in the fourth quarter as Jeff Teague sat on the bench to lead the Hawks to a 91-85 victory over the Knicks. Schröder also chipped in four dimes and four rebounds in 28 minutes of play, the most playing time he has received all season.

Paul Millsap finally snapped out of his offensive woes, scoring 19 points on 3-for-4 shooting from 3. Millsap’s play was particularly strong in the the third quarter, where he scored 12 of the Hawks’ 26 points to help give the Hawks a 64-59 lead.

The Knicks out-shot the Hawks from the field, but the Hawks continously attacked New York’s interior, resulting in a 28-12 free throw advantage for Atlanta. More impressive was that the Hawks made 27 of their 28 attempts from the charity stripe, which has been a spot where the team has struggled over the last several seasons. The Knicks, on the other hand, compounded their lack of attempts by only making seven of their 12 attempts.

Kyle Korver survived an 0-for-8 shooting stretch to tally 17 points on the night. Continue Reading…

The Hawks got a critical win by defeating the Knicks on Saturday night. Game recap aside, there are some other things from the game that I would like to address.

    Thabo Sefolosha has been really bad on offense to start the season. He is 5-for-23 from the field to start the season and that is not just because of a bad jump-shooting stretch; Sefolosha is blowing what should be easy layups, too. However, there is a bright side to Thabo’s play: his defense does not have the same off switch that his offense apparently does. This helps DeMarre Carroll more than any other player, as the Hawks can now afford to sit Carroll and give him some rest, or simply allow him to get some playing time where he does not have to matchup with the opposing team’s best wing player. Sefolosha’s offense will eventually get better and when it does, he will become an extremely valuable player to have on the bench.
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The Hawks’ double overtime loss on Friday night to the Hornets was a disaster. It would be easy to say that the Hawks would enter crisis mode had they lost to the Knicks the following night.

Crisis averted.

Kyle Korver scored a season-high 27 points on 6-for-9 shooting from 3-point range to propel the Hawks back from a 13-point halftime deficit to win 103-96. Korver also chipped in three blocked shots, which was part of a stronger defensive effort from the Hawks in the second half. After allowing 61 points in the first, the Hawks only allowed 35 points in the second, as the Knicks recorded more shot attempts than points over the final two periods. (13-for-38 shooting)

This game really was the tale of two halves, as the Hawks were absolutely dreadful on both ends of the court in the first half. Notable first half stats include 35% shooting, allowing 61 points and nine offensive rebounds, and recording only six assists. The defensive effort is what concerned Coach Budenholzer the most.

“We were more focused on our defense,” said Budenholzer on the difference between the two halves. “I didn’t realize we only had six [assists] in the first half or what we finished with. Defensively is where our focus was tonight. We have to continue to get better there. The offense will come.” Continue Reading…

The Hawks have to hope that the ownership situation gets resolved soon. It appears as if the Hawks may not win another close game as long as the current ownership group remains in possession of the franchise. After losing by a single basket in San Antonio, largely thanks to a 38-11 free throw differential favoring the Spurs, the Hawks finished off the current road trip in Charlotte by losing on a world-class flop by former Hawk Marvin Williams.

Mike Scott was 1-for-7 from the field until he hit a corner three off an inbounds play, poorly guarded by Kemba Walker, to tie the game at 110-110 with three seconds remaining in overtime. That forced a second overtime where Al Horford and Al Jefferson traded baskets like heavyweights exchanging body blows. A pair of Horford elbow jumpers kept the Hawks close before Pero Antic calmly sank a 3-pointer to tie it at 119-119 with 1:06 remaining in the second overtime.

Then with two seconds remaining in the game, Walker was called for a shot clock violation. After a Hawks timeout, Kyle Korver wrestled in the lane with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist while Paul Millsap flashed across the lane. Korver was stood up by Kidd-Gilchrist and stationary when Williams ran into him, then flopped on the deck like a fresh-caught fish. An offensive foul was charged to Korver and the Hornets had enough time to get it in to Lance Stephenson, who banked in a three at the buzzer to send the Hawks to 1-3 on the season with a 122-119 defeat. Continue Reading…

The Hawks lost a nail-biter in San Antonio on Wednesday night, coming up short on the final possession of the game in a 92-90 loss. The loss marks Atlanta’s eighth consecutive loss to the Spurs, who rode their huge rebounding and free throw disparities to the win. The Spurs shot 38 free throws to the Hawks’ 11, though San Antonio left a lot of points at the stripe with 11 misses. The Hawks were down as many as 17 in the first half and fought back to take a late lead, but couldn’t find the winning touch despite a great night from DeMarre Carroll, who had 17 points on 7-for-13 shooting to go along with five rebounds.

The first half went about as poorly as the Coach Bud and the Hawks could have hoped, yet they went into the break down just 10 points after a late run in which all five starters put the ball in the basket in the last 2:31 of the second quarter. The Hawks shot 16-for-45 in the first half, including just 2-for-8 from 3. Kent Bazemore gave the Hawks six minutes off the bench in the first half and provided some good defense on Tony Parker, who had his way otherwise with 13 points in the first half.

Atlanta cut the San Antonio lead to six at the end of the third quarter behind strong play from the bench. Dennis Schröder hit his first field goal of the season off a nice feed from Thabo Sefolosha, and the addition of Sefolosha and Bazemore in the latter half of the quarter really turned up the heat on the defensive side of the ball. Continue Reading…