Over all last night was a stinker for the Hawks. They really came into this game against a determined opponent (Spurs had lost 3 in a row) who happened to have a hall of fame coach (Gregg Popovich), and a hall of fame player (Tim Duncan). Popovich really had his team prepared. The Spurs seized control of this one in the first quarter outscoring the Hawks 36-21 and went on to win by that same 15 point margin. I wondered in the preview how the Hawks would be able to contain Spurs guard Tony Parker and he and Tim Duncan pick and rolled the Hawks to death early. (What happened to the “Nash Rule”) Duncan was a beast the entire night leading the Spurs with 21 points and a career high 27 rebounds. The only negative for the Spurs on the night was that they lost Tony Parker to an ankle injury early in the third quarter. Reports after the game were not good and it seems that they may be without him for some time.
Surprisingly the Hawks offensive numbers weren’t terrible but they were completely dominated on the backboard losing the rebounding battle 60 to 45 with Duncan doing the most damage there. Joe Johnson had a good shooting night scoring 31 points on 15-26 shooting but his +/- for the night was a -15. Jamal Crawford added 25 points and Josh Smith had 14 points and 16 rebounds. Mike Bibby was terrible going 0-7 from the floor and scoring 0 points and handed out only 1 assist while being attacked constantly by the Spurs. Individual offensive performances aside the Hawks lost this game on the defensive end and on the backboard as they were just completely outworked by the Spurs. As a Hawk fan we can only hope that this is just one of those occurrences that happens over an 82 game season and that it doesn’t linger into Friday night’s game when a very hungry Celtics team rolls into Phillips Arena.
Yesterday I touched a little on the Spurs as a model franchise particularly about how smartly they had drafted late in the first round and some of the players that they had been able to obtain. This morning I was reading a post that Jason Walker (of THHB) wrote way back on March of last year. The post is about the Hawks ongoing search for a point guard since the trading of Mookie Blaylock to Golden State. However, the piece does a great job of covering the Hawk’s drafts during the Pete Babcock and Billy Knight eras. I want you to pay particular attention to the 2001 draft as it discusses the Hawks passing on Tony Parker. I will be back tomorrow for a preview of the big match up with the Celtics as the Hawks go for the sweep of Boston.