The Hawks Beat the Hornets

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Published: March 10, 2009

So the winning streak ended tonight as the Hornets went into Atlanta and got outworked for the win.  A lot of the game boiled down to effort, but I have to give a lot of credit to the Atlanta defense – after getting torched in the first quarter, they stiffened their defense and always had a couple guys reaching in to bother any drive.

I’m not upset about the game.  We lost to a solid team in their home arena, and despite poor play in the second and third quarters, the Hornets pushed them several times at the end and had their chances to take over.

Observations

  • First off, the shooting wasn’t there tonight.  Atlanta packed the defense in more and more as the game wore on, and the Hornets didn’t knock down their long range shots to force them to play a more honest perimeter defense to open driving lanes.  It was so bad in the second half that they started almost every defensive posessions with no player within six or seven feet of the three point line.  The Hornets almost always attacked by finding a post up mistmatch and trying to exploit that.  Unfortunately, Posey and Butler may be bigger than the guys guarding them, but they aren’t so good at scoring from the post, and little came of it except a pass back out to the perimeter with only a few seconds left on the clock.
  • On the flip side, the Hawks scorched us from downtown as they generated the same open shots we were getting – too many open shots – and knocked them down regularly.  The early uncontested looks clearly helped Joe Johnson and Flip Murray, neither of whom had been shooting well lately, but combined for 7-12 shooting from deep, including three end of shot-clock shots, and a leaner.
  • Julian had a good game again tonight, finishing with 12 points, 4 boards, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 turnover, and three fouls in 25 minutes.  That’s some nice production.  It would have helped to have Peja back tonight to stick some deep shots for us, but definitely not to replace Julian, but to leave Posey on the bench . . .

  • Because Posey was terrible.  He was -23 for the game, by far the worst +/- of anyone, and it was for good reason.  It wasn’t even just his offensive problems, which were there, but his defense  killed us too.  Bad or non-existant rotations, stupid fouls, and too often he’d give up on stopping a drive and simply swipe at the guy as they went by, providing no resistance at all.  Posey got 34 minutes, and was barely deserving 14 this game.
  • Butler was good, but you could see how intent that Hawks defense was.  His usual drives to the hoop almost always ended with a 12-foot pull up jumper.  He stuck them at a nice clip, but it kept his efficiency low.
  • West too had a hard time scoring.  There were 7 or 8 point blank shots that dribbled around the rim and rolled off the other side that usually go in for him.  Some of that was due to Horford and Josh Smith making him work extra hard to get the shots off, but a good half of them were just bad bounces of the ball.
  • The second quarter killed the Hornets as they were outscored 12 to 27.  Part of the blame falls on the second unit, but when the starters came back in, they didn’t do much to change it.  There were still lots of wide open threes, and some pretty lame passing.
  • Don’t let the box score mislead you – Chandler had his hands full on the glass with Horford all night.  Chandler was always fighting with him for position, boxing him out, and generally settled on the defensive end for letting West grab the board while he fended Horford away.  That’s really the reason for the lopsided 17 defensive boards for West and 2 defensive boards for Chandler.  His offensive output was limited – though a lot of that was due to the Hawks packing in their defense all night.  Chandler had very little room to move, and he needs some to be effective.

On to the next game.  I’ll try to have something up about the bench tomorrow – and the next day is a game in Milwaukee, where the guys can start their next winning streak.

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