The Hawks beat the Hornets
There we go crashing back down to earth. After treating us to some nice victories in the season’s first week, the Hornets ran into an athletic and hungry Hawks team tonight. Let’s dive right into the notes…
- I’ll start it off by giving a lot of credit to the opponent. The Hawks are a better team than I thought they’d be, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Not only do they switch well on picks and cover the weak side nicely, but every guy they put on the floor seems to have a 12-foot wingspan. They also mix up their D pretty good, showing us some zone in the first half and full court pressure in the second.
- Notable that Joe Johnson guarded Chris Paul for most of the night, although methinks Atlanta’s game plan may have involved sagging off CP a bit. That was most evident in the second quarter when Chris was able to get pretty much any shot he wanted outside of the lane. But back to Johnson; the Hawks ask a lot of that guy and he seems to deliver. He scored 24, grabbed 7 and dished 4 in 36 minutes tonight. Gamer.
- They did a real nice job crowding David West inside, rarely allowing him to go one-on-one against Josh Smith or Al Horford. That’s two straight games now where West hasn’t been able to get in a groove. The Bobcats and Heat will probably suffer for that.
- Rough nights for both Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic on their return from injury. Atlanta took away Tyson’s dives to the basket about as well as anybody can, and Zaza “How” Pachulia was getting under his skin a bit just by being all handsy and stuff. Those Hawks can sure as hell rebound, too, beating us 45-35 on the glass.
- As for Peja, he looked like he’d been out of action for six months, not six days. His first contribution to the ballgame was a terrible entry pass to West in the post which got fumbled out of bounds by a faceless Hawk. On the ensuing inbound, Peja dribbled it off his foot and out across the far sideline. He did manage to catch fire midway through the third quarter and can a pair of triples, but overall it was a very forgettable night for him. 3-13 FGs for 8 points.
- Chris Paul was about the only guy that played well, pouring in 19 points in a first half where every other Hornet seemed allergic to that whole scoring facet of the game. CP only managed 3 points beyond halftime, failing to get some of the same shots to drop while also looking to dish more. 22 points, 11 dimes, 5 boards and 3 steals was his final line.
- Ely was inactive tonight? Hmm.
- Mike James has shown me nothing so far this season. He threw several passes tonight that were between the target and the defender. Dangerous passes. You need to be throwing those away from the defense there, Mike. Simple stuff. Aside from that, he coughed the ball up real bad right after a steal in the second quarter, and had a layup wiped off the face of the earth by Josh Smith in the first. James played 11 minutes tonight and the Hawks outscored us by 13 while he was on the floor. Not that he’s the sole reason for that differential, but I’d definitely consider him our weakest link right now. Way too much of a drop off when he checks in for Paul. Might be time to give Devin Brown more minutes as the backup point.
- Sean Marks wore jeans and spoke with an Australian accent.
- Was it just me or did the Hawks kill us out of every timeout? It seemed like they’d come out and get several consecutive stops or back-to-back buckets before we knew what hit us. Meanwhile, we were sucking out of the breaks. I can’t imagine Byron drew up a play for Chris Paul to shoot a three with a lanky hand in his face during our final timeout in the fourth.
- James Posey looked mortal tonight. Turns out he does miss an open three every now and then. He also had plenty of trouble staying in front of Joe Johnson. The nice thing about Posey though is that the effort is always there, and even if his shot’s not dropping right and he’s getting burned on D, he’ll still win you a few possessions just by hustling his ass off.
Those notes probably come across sounding way too negative considering that we’ve got a 3-1 record right now. Twas a tough game to watch though. We saw the Hornets turn it on in the fourth quarter in the previous three games, and it was a little strange not witnessing the same tonight. Oh well. Let’s go beat up on the Bobcats on Friday and feel better.