Bad game. Awful game. By far the worst outing of the season. Terrible. Atrocious. I can think of so many disheartening adjectives to describe Sunday night’s 102-86 loss that I feel like just pumping out vague fragments that display my simple and utter disgust. Keep in mind this Raptors team has lost to the Bobcats twice. The Bobcats have seven wins. That same team that lost to Charlotte twice, that got trounced by Atlanta twice already this season, just went into Philips Arena and absolutely embarrassed a Hawks team that couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a tennis ball from six inches away.
You know how the Hawks were absolutely unconscious from deep last game? How Jannero Pargo lit up the Magic with five three pointers and 17 points? Yeah, that team that almost held a 40-point lead against the Magic and won by 28– that team– was not in attendance tonight. In fact, if you were to take everything that team did well, and flip that positive over to its most extreme negative, you’d get tonight’s output.
Josh Smith and Ivan Johnson were the only two players to show up Sunday night for the Hawks as they were two of the three Atlantans to score in double figures. The other, Willie Green, got eight of his 11 points in garbage time.
DeMar DeRozan paced the Raptors with 23 points, but really, it was a trio of players on the last day of their 10-day contracts that blitzed the Hawks. Those players– Alan Anderson, Ben Uzoh, and Justin Dentmon– scored a combined 36 points (16 for Anderson; 10 for Uzoh; 10 for Dentmon). That combined 36 points was just two less than the total amount produced by all five Hawks starters combined.
It wasn’t a lack of effort (on some fronts) that plagued the Hawks so much as a lack of production and energy. Atlanta went 5-22 from behind the arc and shot 40% from the field. It was a game in which no one other than any of the aforementioned Hawks could yield any offensive output. Joe Johnson had his worst game of the season and Jeff Teague wasn’t far behind. The sheer ineffectiveness from the Atlanta back court on Sunday night was astonishing: all Hawk guards shot a combined 29% (9-31) from the floor, the atrociousness spearheaded by Johnson’s horrendous 2-12 effort.
PLAYER GRADES: Each player is given a grade on an A+ through F scale based upon their game performance.
Joe Johnson: F
It’s harsh– I know, but it’s not the only F you’ll see tonight. The 120-million dollar man was colder than Arnold Schwarzenegger in Batman & Robin (For those of you who don’t know, he plays a villain named Mr. Freeze in the 1997 hit(?) with George Clooney. It’s awesomely awful) as he missed open jumper after open jumper. He refused to penetrate the lane, made one three-pointer to open the second half, and then was never heard from again. His five assists almost make it look like he had some level of activity in this game, but he didn’t. He settled for jumpers (which he missed) and was relatively uninterested in one of the most crucial gimmees of the year for this Hawks team. For a dude that is paid more than LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, seven points in a night this important is absolutely inexcusable. Let’s hope and pray we see the Joe Johnson that torched the Raptors in late January when we travel to Toronto on Monday night.
Josh Smith: B+
Josh Smith was the lone bright spot for the Hawks on Sunday night. He scored 26 points and grabbed eight boards, all in an efficient outing in which he attacked the basket and was making his outside jumpers. He had a couple nice blocks and used a bevy of moves around the rim to get a majority of his points. He was called for a technical foul after throwing a fit because of a no-call early in the fourth quarter, but it got the refs attention as he drew a foul the next two times he caught the ball around the hoop. He tried a few step back jumpers which ended rather poorly, one in an air ball and the other grazing the bottom of the backboard. Overall, however, it was still a brilliant game from Smoove as he kept the Hawks afloat for a majority of the game. A severe lack of help was even too much for him to overcome.
Jason Collins: D+
He started the game and played a grand total of 5 minutes. In that 5 minutes he scored. One point. Lets all just be thankful he didn’t play more than five minutes.
Kirk Hinrich: F
Handing out another one, and again, it isn’t the last. Kirk did not come to play on Sunday night, plain and simple. He scored on the play of the game, which will be dissected later, but overall he was a huge disappointment. He couldn’t stay in front of his man and failed to even be a participant in the offensive flow of things. I didn’t know he was alive until he made a nifty reverse layup, his only basket of the night. Shortly after that, I forgot of his existence yet again.
Jeff Teague: F
A pitiful performance from the man dubbed “Top Tier Teague” after stunning the Bulls in last years playoffs. That Teague stayed in Chicago, and the Teague that roasted Boston’s defense less than five days ago stayed in Boston as well. Teague was nonexistent out there, failing to do everything but breathe in the second half. He penetrated the lane nicely a few times early, but after Ivan Johnson didn’t finish one of his nice dishes in the first, he basically fell off the face of the earth and went into orbit, only to come back down for a quick bucket early in the third, which was actually pretty nice. He sliced and diced through the lane, evading defenders before pulling up for a sweet jumper. That was his only basket of the night, and shortly after it, he went back into outer space and floated ceaselessly without a care in the world.
Jerry Stackhouse: C-
The only Hawk to finish with a positive +/- in tonight’s game! In all 6 minutes of garbage time, Jerry sure did a lot of nothing. He didn’t do anything wrong, though, and by the time he came in, the game was already decided.
Vladimir Radmanovic: C
Well, he was somewhat useful. His defense wasn’t spectacular, but we knew that going in. He made a three-pointer when it actually meant something (not in garbage time) and he also had an impressive put-back off of a Willie Green miss in the second quarter. He influenced the game positively for the Hawks. Well, sort of. On a night like this, he played better than most.
Willie Green: C
He, much like Vlad-Rad had a semi-useful night. He had a breathtaking crossover on Ed Davis that he followed with a ball fake and a finger roll that resulted in an and-one with 0.3 seconds to go in the third quarter. He scored his last eight points in garbage time, six of which came from downtown. At least he didn’t suck out loud, and again, on a night like this, that’s better than most.
JannAIRo AIRgo Jannero Pargo: F
You thought the Fs were done? Nope. Pargo gets the final one. He went 1-5, played god-awful defense, and air-balled two three-pointers in garbage time. He had one slick pass to Ivan Johnson early in the second quarter, but after that he proceeded to play terribly the rest of the game. The worst part about Pargo’s performance is that garbage time is his time to shine. He’s made a living off of coming in the game with eight minutes to go with his team down 20 and shooting them back into it. He does it all the time. Garbage time was invented for players like Pargo, but even he butchered his opportunities against Toronto.
Marvin Williams: D
It’s the type of performance we’ve unfortunately come to expect from Marvin. He didn’t produce much at all, but he did have a nice dunk off of a feed from Josh Smith late in the third quarter. If we’re relishing moments like those, it’s a sure-fire sign something is wrong. The only thing is, we’ve known this for a year or two now: Marvin is (most likely) never going to be a really good player in this league. He confirmed that thought tonight.
Ivan Johnson: B-
Ivan was a breath of fresh air after being suspended for the Orlando game. He came out and attacked frequently, making the most of his opportunities on the floor by slamming home a nice fast break dunk and providing 11 efficient points early for Atlanta. He struggled finishing around the hoop and missed a few free throws, but him and Smoove kept us in the game up until the fourth quarter. He started the second half in place of Jason Collins and his impact was felt throughout the night. Unfortunately, aside from Smith, no one else’s was.
SDS Plays of the Game:
With about two minutes left to go in the third quarter, the Hawks had the lead down to seven points after a Marvin Williams dunk. Ben Uzoh of the Raptors sparked a 6-0 run with a nice layup, which was followed by an Ed Davis layup and a momentum changing Davis dunk. After that, the Raptors never looked back, only letting the Hawks get within nine points on a Willie Green and-one to end the third quarter.
SDS Player of the Game:
I should give it to DeRozan here because he was the best player on the winning team tonight, but he was not the best player on the floor. We’ll give it to the guy who was the best on the floor tonight, Josh Smith. He defended well and scored from all over the court, along with being the only Hawks player who really gave a damn. His intensity level was clearly visible. You can’t say that for any other Hawk from this loss.
This was really a huge game for the Hawks, and they just didn’t have the energy (if I start saying it as much as Larry Drew, slap me) from the get-go. We’re trying to get home-court advantage in our likely date with Boston and we show up this lethargic to what should be one of the easiest games of the season? It was absolutely pathetic, and the worst part was the fact that our main defensive issue was stopping penetration. How on earth is it so difficult to stop Ben Uzoh from getting into the lane? I mean, he might (eventually) become a fine young player, but he has no business handling Teague, Johnson (and oh did he handle Joe), and Kirk the way he did. The man is on the last day of a 10-day contract for crying out loud!
I can’t really say too much more about this game. It was by far the worst loss of the season. The energy level (Larry Drew nods head vigorously) was lower than I’ve arguably ever seen it. I understand we were without Zaza and I know that a condensed season like this will make every team have a few duds, but this was simply inexcusable with the playoff implications it held. We’re going into a seven game series with arguably the hottest team in the league (Boston), and we’re here getting blown out by the Raptors? Granted, Boston just lost to them too, but not in this fashion, not in this pathetic and borderline depressing way. It’s like the game we lost by 30 to the Wizards at the end of last year, except this game means a ton and we can’t afford another six-game losing streak to end the season like we had last year. Home court advantage would be a huge upper hand if we play Boston. We’ve struggled with them all season (both games have been close), and you don’t think we should want every little boost we can get? It’s just frustrating to see a team need something so badly to win a series (home court) and then go out and practically lose it to one of the worst teams in the league. The Boston game on Friday night suddenly triples in importance, because here is the bottom line: we need to finish at least one game ahead of them. The key to unlock that gate is beating them on Friday. Of course, our schedule doesn’t do us much favors as we have the Mavericks, the Knicks, and the Clippers all remaining.
The Hawks travel up north to Canada to take on the Raptors again on Monday night. It’s a must win if Atlanta has any fleeting hopes of that three seed or home court advantage in the likely Boston series. We’ll need Joe Johnson and Jeff Teague to come back to life, along with another great effort from Smoove for a victory.
Hmm…Remember when we almost hired Dwane Casey?