They say better late than never and we always go with what THEY say...so, here's our game recap, which really won't be a game recap but more of our first real problem with a component of this season's direction...and after much effusive praise of the Hawks and our coach - yes, the time to call it out is here!!!
Game Recap - Hornets 96, Hawks 88
- You can't win them all. As we noted in our Rockets game recap, this is what you call a trap game. Feeling your oats a little, big break upcoming, and divisional clash for Thanksgiving in the offing on the tail end of a back to back on the road - a perfect setup for a loss!
- So, we're going to skip trying to delve into our observations and doing our traditional game recap format because you can't win them all and nothing that happened in this game gives us any pause and go straight to a major complaint we've had during the Coach Woodson administration...
- Jeff Teague needs minutes to develop as a NBA point guard. What other time than when the starter goes down should the backup play?
- We're playing back to back games with the final game on the road. Even if Bibby wasn't injured, Teague should have been playing to reduce the wear and tear on our starting guards (one who happened to play 40+ minutes the night before).
- If Paul was playing, maybe it would make sense to not have Teague get embarrassed, but again - the only way to get 'em ready is to play 'em. I recall one of Acie Law's finest moments being that he did play Paul straight up for a quarter on the defensive end. Why wouldn't be we think that Teague can't produce in the same way?
- This last note is even more ironic because we weren't even playing Paul and yet we LOST due to two rookie guards who were drafted AFTER Jeff Teague who got 34 and 26 minutes, respectively.
- We still fail to see what happened during the 5 minutes Teague did play other than the team cutting lead by 6 that necessitated him sitting on the bench for the rest of the game.
We have gone through great pains to understand some of the decision making with regards to how minutes are divided by Woodson. He has gone through the motions every offseason and some games in communicating what he needs to change and how he has to 'find' minutes. The reason to play Teague couldn't have been more gift wrapped. We lost anyway - why not lose seeing if Teague can outplay the very players (i.e. Collison and Thornton) you thought he was better than anyway and showing the young point guard that when injury happens (or even just the need for a spark) - he's expected to play and produce. That didn't happen since Teague didn't show up in the game until a quarter later.
It again furthers our belief in the theory that Woodson's lack of a contract and 'win the battle with no vision to win the war' strategies negatively impact the growth of the Atlanta Hawks. You may say that this may be overblown, but we think it bears watching. The Hawks' familiarity with each other has gotten them off to hot starts the past 2 seasons, but there is evidence that last season we plateau'd (or some would say regressed) over the last half of the season. We want to see Woodson employing methods that not only win games, but also provide avenues for the team getting stronger and more cohesive over the course of the year in preparation for winning games in the postseason with whatever personnel is necessary. Last year should have been the perfect example of why it's important to develop players on the roster that you know you're going to need and showing them (not just saying) that you trust and EXPECT them to perform well when given the opportunity. During this game, the message sent to Jeff Teague is not a good one. It wouldn't be good if it was the Lakers, but it's awful since it was a game vs. the Hornets who were getting major production from 2 just as green as Teague is players to defeat your team even though the guy in front of him is injured. Here's to hope that this is the exception and not the rule going forward and that that lack of trust doesn't force Bibby back into the lineup earlier than necessary. Let's remember it's a marathon, not a sprint...
Off til Thursday and let's hope we have this game circled and are ready to deliver the message that the Magic have delivered to us three times in the past year (one albeit in preseason) emphatically that we're not close to as good as they are. Let's show them that that's not the case...Happy Thanksgiving!!!