Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hawks @ Nuggets - 2/25/09

This is what we call a Man's Blog. Unlike many political leaders, sports talk hosts, and people who can't admit their problems, I can admit when something I didn't think was possible happens. So, while I'm pretty confident that tonight was the exception to the rule (esp. since it was necessitated out of the loss of 2 starters), I'll just go ahead and speak on what happened tonight.

Game Recap - Nuggets 110, Hawks 109

Let's start with the good while I have your attention:

1. The #1 reason we had a chance to win this game...(wait for it) Mike Woodson. He made the decision to press the Nuggets in the 2nd half and it yielded turnovers that allowed us to get in the game. I said yesterday that I hadn't seen him make one adjustment all season and well, tonight he made two - the first being the press and the second being the fact that we went to Marvin down the stretch. Had we figured out how to apply that pressure without putting Chauncey Billups on the line at every moment, we probably win. That's all you can ask of your coach. To give you strategies that allow you a chance to win..
2. Marvin Williams - he came to play, he was aggressive on both ends of the floor, and he was looking for more ways than shooting the 3 to score the basketball.
3. Al Horford - Seeing him shoot over 15 shots was a thing of beauty. Now, I'd like to see him on the block more than playing face up, but we can't complain with 18 and 10. I've been very critical of Al, particularly with him being unable to get double doubles that are necessary from the center position for the Hawks to win and tonight - he was looking for his shot and it was effective. Loved the post passing with him and Zaza.
4. Free Throw Shooting - Color it obvious, but damn if Josh Smith is out and we shoot over 90% from the charity stripe. We hit technicals and almost everything else that we could at the line. And if we hadn't, we aren't even in the game the last 4 minutes of the game.
5. Maurice Evans showed why we need his energy and defense and presence off the bench. He came to play. Won't show up in the box score, but his energy and effort were a reason why we were able to almost pull out a victory.

These are the great things about today's game. The downside of this is that none of these things are things that we've really done all season long. So, it's great and sobering that doing the first 4 things were the perfect storm and yet, we still lost. I won't complain though b/c I called this a loss no matter what, but I can only pray that we'll see that kind of effort on Friday and Sunday.

Now, to the bad side:

1. The rotations were still uneven. Not sure what's up with no Zaza when he was playing relatively well and the lane was wide open in stages and with the extended Mario West time without much good coming from him. But I will say - I like the variety. Now, if we could only get that Mario West time when the team is not dialed in. Tonight, effort wasn't the issue. So, the need for the effort guy is a little muted. Particularly, when he looks completely lost on the offensive end of the court.
2. Fouls - We definitely have not mastered the art of playing defense without fouling. Now, that said - the officials were certainly not working for the benefit of fair and balanced. Several QUESTIONABLE calls went against the Hawks and put Billups on the line repeatedly - it was like watching D-Wade in the NBA Finals.
3. Joe Johnson - Yes, Joe hit some MONSTER shots at the end of the game, but I'm still not convinced that Joe is doing well. I expect Joe to recognize that from minute 1 that the Nuggets were going to double him all game and I didn't see his B-ball IQ kick in and make the right play. On some occasions he forced the shot, some instances passed up open looks, and other times - made bad passes (and by bad, I mean passing to Mario West or people who were not ready to score). I'm probably being too hard on Joe, but I also expect Joe to be our superstar and to make superstar plays, not just superstar shots.
4. Acie - Now, I've advocated for you to be able to play all season. That means when you get your chance - you can't commit 4 fouls in limited time against Chauncey. I do give Woody credit for allowing Acie to play beyond the 1st 2 fouls in the first quarter, but damn Acie - help me, son.

In any case, it was the kind of game I can't put much stock in, but they say wonders never cease, so we'll see how it goes on Friday....and with that, this concludes this game recap's version of the Bizarro Hawks game.