Awww, shucks. The Hawks won’t go 66-0 in the regular season this season, as the Houston Rockets gave them their first loss of the season.
The Rockets didn’t give them much hope for it either, they outplayed the Hawks from start to finish.
The biggest difference early on in the game was the shot selection. Houston executed well in the early going, moving the ball around and finding the best shot possible. As a result, they started off hot, hitting nine of their first 11 shots. The Rockets scored 22 of their 33 points in the first quarter, inside the paint. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Hawks looked lost and sloppy in their execution. They started the game by shooting jumpshots. Even though not a lot of them were going in, the Hawks kept insisting on taking them. As anyone who has watched the Hawks can figure out, that’s basically shooting yourself on the foot. The Hawks did exactly that as the Rockets led by a good margin after the first quarter, 22 to 31.
Ever since then, it was pretty much over. The Hawks did (slightly) improve their shot selection as the game progressed, but that still wasn’t enough to beat or even challenge the Rockets. The Rockets just played better. Their players had a better sense of urgency, their coach had better decision making, and they executed their offense better.
After the jump, you can see more of the gloom and doom from this game…
J-Smoove’s Ugly Groove
J-Smoove showed us exactly why he’s still one of the most frustrating players to watch in the entire league. He took ill advice jump shots and missed plenty of them, but when he drove the lane, he scored more easily. It still boggles my mind why Josh Smith takes so many low percentage jump shots when he has a good ability to finish around the rim consistently. I don’t want to throw the “s” word (*soft) out there, because Josh Smith’s personality certainly doesn’t match it, but that’s the only explanation on why he insists on taking jump shots instead of driving the ball and scoring inside. I’m also not ready to throw the “t” word (*trade) out there like fans are, but I can say that he definitely isn’t and shouldn’t be untouchable.
LD’s Weird Decision Making
I hate to say it, as I am a bigger supporter of Larry Drew than most, but he got out coached last night. A few things bothered me…
- Taking Marvin Williams out early and making him sit for a long period of time even though he was the only one generating any points early in the game.
- Still having Pargo as the backup to Teague. Haven’t seen too many games of Donald Sloan’s, but he has to better than Pargo, right? Right?
- Not running more plays for Joe Johnson in the post when Kevin Martin was guarding him. Joe posted Martin up a few times, and it came easy for Joe, but it seemed like that wasn’t part of the game plan of Coach Drew.
No Teague Time?
Reality is starting to set in. Why I know (and really hope) that Teague won’t have too many games like the one he had yesterday, I do know that Teague certainly isn’t up to the level of a John Wall or a Rajon Rondo yet. Teague played as passive as he could yesterday, and that’s not a quality that you see in a Rondo type of caliber player. The Hawks needed Teague more than anyone yesterday (especially early with his teammates becoming jump shot happy), and apparently he didn’t get the memo. His ability and aggressiveness to get to the rim could have really helped the Hawks.
Also, for those expecting Teague to be a Chris Paul type of playmaker, stop that now. Teague just doesn’t have the instincts of a playmaker. I know it’s one game, but watching the way Kyle Lowry set up his teammates and run the offense and comparing it to the way Teague does it, he has a long way to go before being labeled as a playmaker.
I still think Teague should still be the permanent starting PG even when Hinrich comes back, but my super high hopes of him went down after watching him and Lowry match-up.
There wasn’t much highlights for the Hawks, so I have to give the Play of the Game to this little guy making an amazing block. Seriously, even I had to stand up and clap after that. Not because I don’t particularly fancy Jannero Pargo, but because that play came out of nowhere.
Credit goes to thehoopscene for the video.
Hawks Players Quotes/Reactions:
"They came out and played at a higher level than we did. … We didn’t fly around and contest [shots]. We reverted back into short close-outs. … Shot selection was not very good either. The timing of shots were not good."
"I don’t give a [bleep] about that. I am used to it. It was [also] Toronto and then Orlando. Who cares."
"Are we going to crawl back and be pouting about this loss? Or are we going to come out and compete against the Eastern Conference champs on Monday? If we want to go and be mentioned in the same breath as Miami or Chicago, we have got to go do something."
Extra Short Notes:
- This is the only game between Atlanta and Houston this season.
- Zaza Pachulia (@zaza27) grabbed his 3,000th career rebound during the game yesterday.
- Tracy McGrady had a heck of a game, he actually gave the Hawks a puncher’s chance in the 4th quarter, when seemingly everyone thought it was over. He finished with13 points 6 rebounds in 15 minutes of play.
- Vladimir Radmanovic’s shot was off. He finished with 0 points in 0-5 shooting. 0-3 from beyond the arc.
- Joe Johnson received a technical in the second half for arguing with a referee. Not too many times I can say that… Joe must have really thought the referee missed a call.
- Kyle Lowry alone had more assists (18) than the entire Atlanta Hawks team(16).
- From Elias: Kyle Lowry handed out 18 assists and scored only two points in the Rockets’ win over the Hawks. Lowry is the sixth player in NBA history to hand out that many assists while scoring two or fewer points in an NBA game, the first since Muggsy Bogues had 19 assists and two points for Charlotte against Milwaukee on February 18, 1994.
The Atlanta Hawks will be taking their talents to South Beach (LeBron voice), and will face the Miami Heat tomorrow, January 2nd. The Miami Heat are currently 4-0, and possibly 5-0 when we meet them as they will face the Charlotte Bobcats today.
Thanks for reading. I know this recap was a bit bleak and murky, but that’s exactly how the Hawks played yesterday. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not saying the Hawks season is over and that there’s no hope for this season anymore like some pessimistic Hawks fans are insinuating, but man, the Hawks sure didn’t give much hope yesterday. Hopefully they can give me something positive to write about on their next game on Monday.
For now, have a Happy New Year everyone! May the year 2012 be good to you.