Quick Recap for those who didn’t watch it….
With Josh Smith sitting this game out, LD started the game with the “BIG” lineup minus Josh Smith plus Marvin Williams.
First quarter, easy story. Both teams got off to good starts, answering each other with bucket after bucket, shot after shot. However, when the Hawks found themselves down 4 with about 4 minutes left in the first quarter, the Hawks’ defense started to tighten up and their shot stayed hot. Led by Jamal Crawford’s 7 points, the Hawks went on a 11-2 run to end the quarter, giving them a 5 point lead after one quarter.
Second quarter, another offensive battle between the two. First six minutes belonged to the Hawks. Jeff Teague, Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia, and Jamal Crawford scored the first 16 points(most were in the paint) for the Hawks in the quarter, which made the Hawks extend their lead to double digits (11). Most of the blame could go to the small frontcourt of Bonner and Blair the Spurs had. Neither really provided any defense inside and the Hawks took advantage. However, the penetrating and scoring the Hawks were successfully doing in the first six minutes stopped when Blair and Bonner were replaced by McDyess and Duncan. The Hawks started settling for jumpshots and started having trouble inside with Tim Duncan. As we can all probably guess, a recipe for disaster. However, the Hawks still managed to not completely blow the lead, as their once 11 point lead only slimmed to a 3 point lead.
Third quarter, to sum it up…Tony Parker and the Hawks offense struggling. I shouldn’t say struggling, the Hawks still shot a good percentage from the field but the amount of turnovers they committed and the lack of aggressiveness(zero free throws in the quarter) clearly showed the Hawks offense was struggling. The Spurs were doing the same, shooting jumper after jumper and committing turnovers, but the Spurs being the better offensive team, bad offensive possessions doesn’t necessarily mean no points for the Spurs. Led by Tony Parker’s 10 points in the quarter, the Spurs outscored the Hawks by 4 in the 3rd, giving them a 1 point lead heading into the final quarter.
Fourth quarter, the Hawks offensive gameplan of taking contested or low percentage shots continued. As we all know, that gameplan will eventually lead to the downfall of the Hawks. After shooting over 50% through the first three quarters, the Hawks struggled in the 4th quarter as they shot 35% from the field in the quarter. This, plus the Hawks’ defense eventually led to the demise of the Hawks’ hopes of winning. The Hawks got into foul trouble early in the 4th quarter, committing six fouls in the first five minutes of the game. The Spurs took advantage of the Hawks being in foul trouble in the 4th as they went on to attempt 18 free throw shots and converting 15 of them. George Hill, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker led the Spurs’ big scoring outburst as they combined for 24 of the Spurs 31 points. The Spurs eventually won the game by 7.
Final Score: Spurs: 97 | Hawks: 90
Usually down about a loss, but not this one. With the Hawks basically being outplayed 3 out of the 4 quarters, they only lost by 7 against the team that currently holds the NBA’s best record. Also, the Hawks were without the services of Josh Smith (sat out entire game to rest knee) and Jason Collins (injured his ankle in the second quarter, didn’t return in the second half). How the Hawks managed to make this a winnable game? I have no idea.
I’m proud to say the Hawks were able to hang with the Spurs in a night when the Hawks have nothing to play for and San Antonio has something to play for (Spurs looking to lock best record in league and homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs). However, I’m not going to say there weren’t any glaring mistakes…..
- The Hawks interior defense was nowhere to be found. If the Hawks lose Josh Smith, does that mean there will be no defensive presence in the paint anymore? The Spurs’ guards were scoring too easily and the Spurs’ big men of McDyess, Blair, and Duncan seemingly scored whenever they felt like it. Also, where’s the rebounding?
- The Hawks perimeter defense is still a question mark. I knew Ginobili would most likely have a good game since Jamal and Joe Johnson will be the ones guarding him, but I thought the Hawks would be able to limit Tony Parker from dominating offensively. Well, they didn’t. Nor Hinrich, nor Teague, nor Jamal, nor Joe, nor Damien could stop or slow down any of the Spurs’ backcourt players (Hill, Ginobili, and Parker).
- The Hawks continue to go perimeter crazy. When the Hawks offense revolves around a player (*cough* Joe *cough*) shooting contested shot after contested shot, you’re most likely not going to win this game. When your two best players (Al Horford and Joe Johnson) have no intention of driving it (Al being more a culprit) and are struggling with their outside shot, you’re most likely going to struggle offensively. Simple really. The Hawks will not win a playoff series by taking jumpshots. They lack the personnel to go jumpshot crazy. Someone needs to be aggressive and draw fouls and score in the paint. In recent games, it’s been Marvin Williams, but he went “invincible” mode this game….seriously… I can only recall a few plays that involved Marvin.
As you probably know, I like to protect Joe Johnson. No, he didn’t have a good shooting game, but I like the amount of shots he takes. There have been games this season when I felt Joe Johnson wasn’t even into the game, but recently, it seems like Joe is tuned into the game and trying to score whatever way possible. Sure, it hasn’t worked to his or the Hawks’ advantage, but I guarantee you the Hawks had a better chance winning this game with Joe Johnson taking many shots and shooting at a low percentage than Joe being passive and not looking to score.
My other Noteable Notes:
- Jamal Crawford had another double digit scoring game (2o points). That makes it 3 in a row for Jamal. The last time Jamal has scored double digits three games in a row was the start of March. The last time Jamal has scored at least 15 points three games in a row was in January.
- Jeff Teague had a solid game. His statistics doesn’t show (8 points and 1 assists) doesn’t say much, but I felt that he helped the team a lot more than he hurt the team. His defense on Parker wasn’t great but it was respectable and he played smart offensively.
- Jamal Crawford will be in the Mo’Nique Show on BET tonight (Wednesday) at 11 PM Eastern Time, via @JamalCrawFans.
- John Hollinger tweets that Josh Smith will be out until the last 2 games of the season.
- Jason Collins also got hurt in the middle of the second quarter and didn’t return in the game.
- The Hawks finish the season with a 13-17 record against Western Conference Teams. They also finish the season with a 7-9 record AT HOME against Western Conference Teams.
- The Hawks clinch the 5th seed. They can’t move up to the 4th seed and they can’t move down to the 6th seed. The Orlando Magic also clinched the 4th seed. They can’t move up to the 3rd seed. Meaning, Hawks and Magic will face off in the first round with Orlando having the homecourt advantage.
A SPECIAL CONGRATULATIONS TO:
Marvin Williams for winning the Jason Collier Memorial Trophy. For those who don’t know, the Jason Collier Memorial Trophy is named after the former Hawk, Jason Collier, who passed away during the 2004-2005 NBA season. The Jason Collier Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the Hawks player that contributes the most off the court (something Collier was known for). Marvin Williams is the only Hawks player to have gotten this honor more than once as he won it in the season of 2007-2008.
Also, there are still 4 current Hawks players that are former teammates of Jason Collier…Marvin Williams, Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, and Zaza Pachulia. Josh Smith is the only one who spent a whole season with him though.
Next up: Hawks hit the road as they will face the Indiana Pacers on Friday. They also travel to Washington right after the Pacers game to face the Wizards on Saturday.
Final Thought: Let’s hope the Hawks are fully healthy come playoff time. Let’s hope Jason Collins and Josh Smith have a rapid recovery and that no other player will get hurt.