Another game, another wasted rally. After fighting back from a 17 point deficit to within one point under a minute ago, the Hawks squandered another chance and fell to the Minnesota Timberwolves 108-103.
The Hawk again looked extremely sluggish in the first half and Larry Drew described the team’s effort as “soft”. It was certainly a tale of two halves. First half, the Hawk were -10 in rebounding margin, -16 in points in the paint and +4 in turnovers. Second half, the Hawks were +11, +4, and +2 respectively.
Jeff Teague was benched in the third quarter upon receiving his 5th foul and finished with as many points as fouls committed and no assists. Lou Williams was able to get to the line as usual to provide 21 points on 15 shots and 8 assists.
Nikola Pekovic was absolutely overpowering on the boards and scoring in the low post. His monsterous 25 points, 18 rebound game set the tone for a very physical matchup. Andrei Kirilenko also added 21 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.
For another game, the Hawk gave up too much penetration to the likes of Luke Ridnour and Alexey Shved, who finished with 7 assists. There is a clear problem trying to cut off penetration at the arc, as this trend has persisted throughout the entire season. Also, Pekovic almost single-handedly thrashed the Hawks interior. Despite the ongoing hemorrhaging, Ivan Johnson received no minutes, and Anthony Tolliver and Mike Scott seem to have jumped him in the rotation. The post rotation must be figured out quickly, as Smith and Horford simply give up too much size to guard most centers in addition to expending large amounts of energy propping up the disappointing Hawks offense.
Still, at least we’re not the Lakers. Atlanta remains 3rd in the East with a couple of very winnable games approaching (Cavaliers, Jazz, Wizards). Trends have begun to emerge but can easily be erased tomorrow in Cleveland. Let’s hope we forget this poor two week stretch as we move toward the All-Star break.