Couldn't draw it up better than that. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE

Full Recap: Joe Johnson, Zaza Pachulia, Kirk Hinrich, Josh Smith, or Larry Drew Shouldn't Be Single-handedly Blamed for OT Loss to Nuggets

In the fifth game of the six game road trip, the Atlanta Hawks traveled to Denver to face a tough and resilient Nuggets team.

The Atlanta Hawks had every opportunity to win the game, but they just weren’t lucky and fortunate enough in the fourth quarter and overtime.

  • With the Nuggets down by two with 9 seconds left in the 4th quarter, Jannero Pargo received the inbound pass but turned the ball over when Corey Brewer swiped the ball and the ball went off of Pargo’s leg.
  • Danilo Gallinari was forced to take a tough fading three pointer in the corner and somehow made it to put the Nuggets up by 1 with 3 seconds left in regulation. Josh Smith & Joe Johnson couldn’t have defended it better.
  • Kirk Hinrich drew a foul with 1 second left in regulation, and had two free throw attempts to win the game. Hinrich, who is a career 81% free throw shooter, made the first one but saw the second one roll out, meaning he could only send the game into overtime.
  • Josh Smith,  who had only had four fouls going into overtime, fouled out of the game and only got to play 2 minutes and 14 seconds in overtime (fouled out with 2:46 left in OT).
  • With the Nuggets down by 1 with 26 seconds left in overtime, Nene, who is a career and season 67% free throw shooter, hit both free throws to put the Nuggets up by 1.
  • With the Hawks down 1, Joe Johnson, who was stepping up in overtime, scoring 7 points, missed the go ahead layup with 3 seconds left in overtime.
  • The Hawks had one last opportunity to win, and Larry Drew drew up one of the more impressive plays he called during the entire game, as he got Zaza Pachulia wide open in the paint, but Zaza missed the wide open layup as time expred that would have been the game winner. Hawks lost by 1.

But like I said in the title, you can’t single handedly blame loss on one individual. There were multiple factors on why the Hawks lost this game. It’s not because Joe Johnson couldn’t close. It’s not because Kirk Hinrich missed the free throw. It’s not because Josh Smith fouled out. It’s not because Larry Drew had the wrong players on the court. It’s not because of Zaza’s wide open missed layup. It was all of that combined, plus the lack of defense in the first half.

This was a tough loss. The Hawks had every opportunity to win, they just, once again….wasn’t fortunate enough.

Final Score: Hawks 117 | Nuggets 118 OT

SDS Player of the Game (Josh Smith)
This is the first time I’m doing this this season, but I’m giving the SDS Player of the Game award to a player in a losing team. Josh Smith was just great….quite amazing, if you take first quarter away where he went 0-5 from the field. He finished with 33 points (season high), 13 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 blocks. He also hit 2 of his 3 three pointers and hit all 5 of his free throw attempts. He was just great, and the Hawks surely missed him when he fouled out in early in overtime.

Appreciating Joe Johnson
I have respect for the Atlanta Hawks fan base. Especially those who have been supporting this team even when they weren’t a playoff team, but man, a lot of Hawks fans are hard to satisfy.

Like I tweeted last night, Joe Johnson had a season high 34 points while shooting 50% from the field (scoring 7 points in OT) and some fans were still complaining about his performance. Sure, the Hawks didn’t win the game, but it’s pretty ignorant to single out Joe Johnson and blaming him for the loss.

I know Joe Johnson had some pretty crucial turnovers, but fans have to respect what he did last night. I don’t think I’m being bias when I say that. I seriously think that those who criticize Joe  for his performance last night, simply just have too high of expectations for him.

Defending Larry Drew…and did he get a technical?!
I have to defend Larry Drew too. He’s getting criticized too much as well. Sure, he wasn’t perfect last night, but he did some things last night that were impressive.

For one, he got a technical! The unthinkable happened, and he got a technical. He stood up for Josh Smith after the refs missed a blatant foul on Nene, and the refs gave Larry Drew his first technical foul of the season. I’m not going to lie, that was one of the highlights of the night for me.

Secondly, I know he went to iso-Joe probably a bit too much late in the 4th quarter, but give him credit for realizing it and drawing up a play for Josh Smith (who had that amazing spin move on Nene by the way).

Third, give Larry Drew credit for the lineup change he has done. Hinrich seems to be getting it going now, and Marvin looks like he’s playing more effectively off the bench.

Also, I know Larry Drew was criticized for having Vladimir Radmanovic on the floor, but seriously, what other option does he have when Josh Smith fouled out? Marvin got injured, McGrady was resting, and Ivan Johnson wasn’t with the team because of a family matter. The only other option Coach Drew had was Erick Dampier, and no offense to Dampier, but I would much rather take a chance on Vladimir Radmanovic (even if he was having a pretty bad game).

As short handed as the Hawks are, Coach Drew got his team to compete and put the Hawks in so many opportunities to steal a win in Denver….but like I said before, the Hawks and Larry Drew just weren’t fortunate enough.

Defense in 1st half was biggest reason for Hawks loss

Joe wasn’t the biggest reason for the loss. Neither was Larry Drew. Neither was Zaza. Neither was Hinrich. Neither was Radmanovic. Neither was Josh Smith. Neither was Jeff Teague. Neither was the ball boy….you get the point.

Defense in the first half was why the Hawks lost. The perimeter defenders couldn’t stop the Nuggets from going inside, and the interior defenders didn’t provide much help. The Nuggets scored 64 points in the first half in 60% shooting. That’s really the biggest reason the Hawks lost.

The defense tightened up in the second half, but still, the Denver Nuggets scored a whopping 60 points in the paint. Geez.


Nuggets & Hawks Players & Coaches Quotes/Reactions:

Zaza Pachulia on missed game winning layup attempt:

Just missed it. It was a great opportunity for me.


Larry Drew on the final play:

The execution was perfect. We executed. That was probably the best play we executed all night. ‘Z’ just missed a point-blank layup. But I told the guys it didn’t come down to that. That game was lost in the first half when we didn’t make a stand defensively and they basically had their way with us.


Joe Johnson wants to blame loss on himself:

We don’t put this game on Zaza missing a layup or Kirk not making a free throw. I look at the stat sheet and I had five turnovers and probably three of those were at crucial times.


Kirk Hinrich on his miss free throw attempt in end of regulation:

It’s tough. I had a chance to win it. I made the hard one, the first one, and I missed the second. I’m very disappointed.


Zaza Pachulia on the loss:

We had so many opportunities, you know. I don’t think we were lucky today. Of course it’s not an excuse. I have to finish that. But if you think about it, the turnover we had over there off Pargo’s leg, Gallinari’s three, Kirk’s free throw and my layup. That’s four big things. We just weren’t lucky today. Again, that’s not an excuse and personally, me, I have to finish when I have that kind of opportunity. I take that blame on my shoulders.


Joe Johnson on Danilo Gallinari’s three that put Nuggets up 1:

I don’t know how he made it. It was definitely a tough shot. He caught it kind of fading. But before that we couldn’t get big stops. They were either scoring or we were fouling.

Zaza Pachulia tweets about loss and missed GW layup:

Had a great opportunity to win the game but blew it up.I’m very disappointed.Hope I’ll be in same situation soon and will execute it better.


Extra Short Notes/Box Score Watching:

  • The Atlanta Hawks were outscored in the paint 42 to 60.
  • Both Joe Johnson and Josh Smith finished with season highs in points. Johnson had 34. Smith had 33.
  • Zaza Pachulia grabbed a respectable 13 rebounds.
  • Kirk Hinrich had his best game of the season, scoring 22 points in 7-8 shooting. Only had 1 turnover too!
  • Marvin Williams scored 10 points in 23 minutes. Injured his hip and will not be playing tonight vs Clippers (seriously?)
  • Vladimir Radmanovic was completely useless. Shot 4 shots. All three pointers. All misses.
  • Tracy McGrady didn’t play as LD decided not to play him in the first game of a back-to-back. Will play tonight though (hopefully).
  • According to Elias, Denver’s win over Atlanta was the Nuggets’ sixth consecutive win in an overtime game at home. That ties Denver with Chicago for the longest current overtime home winning streak for any NBA team, and it’s the longest such streak in Denver’s NBA history.
  • The Denver Nuggets now hold a four game overall win streak vs the Hawks, and hold a five game win streak vs the Hawks in Pepsi Center.
  • The Hawks record is now (24-18) and are still solidly maintaining their 6th seed spot.
  • With this loss, the Hawks now are now .500 in road games (12-12).
  • They are now 3.5 games behind the Orlando Magic (3rd seed).
  • They are now only 1.5 games ahead of the Boston Celtics (7th seed) and 6 games ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks (8th seed).
  • Hawks are now 4-3 in the month of March.


Final Thought:

It was a tough loss to swallow, and I’m sure many of the players (especially Zaza) are still hurting from this loss, but honestly, let’s just move on from this game.

Luckily for the Hawks, they get to do just that as they’ll close their 6 game road trip tonight in LA against the Clippers.

I know the Hawks are 2-3 in the road trip so far, but for the most part, they’ve played pretty well. They could very well be 5-0 in this road trip, if they just got a little luck towards their way.


Next Game:

The Hawks will end their 6 game road trip tonight in LA tonight, against the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Los Angeles Clippers are only (23-17) for the season and post a (12-7) record at home.

The Clippers are coming into this game with a 2 game losing streak.


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Tags: Atlanta Hawks Danilo Gallinari Denver Nuggets Jeff Teague Joe Johnson Josh Smith Kirk Hinrich Larry Drew Vladimir Radmanovic Zaza Pachulia

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