Hawks 105, Nets 93: The downside of expectation
The gist of it: As LMFAO might’ve sung, sorry for foot-in-mouthing. I and many other Nets fans were excited to see the team pull even with the Knicks in the Atlantic Division lead, which would’ve happened last night were they able to beat the Atlanta Hawks, whom they’d blown out just a week before. A four day layoff should’ve enabled that, right? Alas, it wasn’t meant to happen: After three basically even quarters, two of which I denoted with “summary: sloppy, turnover-prone, unfocused,” the Hawks broke things open in the final period. It wasn’t pretty, either: They kept on scoring in transition, drawing fouls on scores, and eventually turned an either-or contest into a blowout of their own. It wasn’t much fun to watch, and even worse, the Knicks are still in first place.
° A healthy Deron Williams is faster than most players—he got the defense to collapse on him a few times, leading to easy buckets inside for Reggie Evans—but he’s also stronger, too: He was quick to post up the reed-like Jeff Teague, scoring twice after backing him down inside the paint. I was surprised we didn’t see it more often.
° Gerald Wallace once again had a hard time finishing inside, even when he was more or less unguarded, prompting fellow TrueHooper Beckley Mason to note that he’s shooting less on layups than Kyle Korver is shooting from long distance. Afterwards, Wallace gave a frank appraisal of his struggles: ”Make a shot, a layup, something, just any f—ing thing. I don’t know. F—. Just see trash go in the trashcan.
° Believe it or not, but Evans had the most effective game for the Nets: He ground out 14 points on a few lefty hooks, grabbed 22 rebounds (his fifth 20+ rebound game, the most in the league), and—most importantly—was on the bench through all of Atlanta’s fourth quarter run. That might’ve been more coincidental than anything—the Hawks were scoring on fast breaks even when he was in the game, too—but it didn’t look good as it was happening. One ugly moment came when he attempted to run a fast break with Keith Bogans—which didn’t end well, surprise!—but at least it was fun to watch.
° Sort of endearing, really, the Barclays cheers that break out whenever Evans hits a free throw. “You may be a 49% free throw shooter, but you’re our 49% free throw shooter.”
° Officially the Hawks only had 22 fast break points but it seemed like they got everything they wanted in transition, including a few backbreaking And1s—seriously, five of them in the fourth quarter—that had this blogger prematurely cycling through things to watch on Netflix rather than withstand more of the pain. It’s not fun to watch Ivan Johnson celebrate.
° This is technically unrelated, but I watched the Bo Jackson 30 for 30 over the weekend and there’s a moment where Bo explains how he relaxes: ”When I just want to get away from being Bo Jackson, this is my safe haven. I come down here and I… make arrows. I make arrows.” He goes into his basement and just sits around, making arrows. Then they pan around to show a basement that is literally filled with homemade arrows, which is the most unexpectedly serene activity I’d imagine a former sporting legend to partake in. I wonder what Nets player would be down this time type of stress burner: the similarly soft-spoken Joe Johnson, maybe?
° Speaking of Johnson, his numbers against Atlanta in four games this year: 14.8 PPG/3.0 AST/3.0 RB on 36/29/89 shooting percentages. Maybe he could stand to be a little more publicly vengeful next year?
° When we came back from the first half, Deron Williams was wearing these kicks. They’ll be important for a research paper I’m writing on the dweebiness of bloggers attempting to wear basketball shoes.
Granted this ended in a miss but here was that rejuvenated Deron speed, weaving in traffic and getting every Atlanta defender to stop and watch for a second—look at John Jenkins in the bottom of the screen, hanging out and guarding no one in particular—leading to an open Bogans look in the corner. Sorry, white jacketed dude on the lefthand side raising his hands in anticipatory glee.
Up next: The Detroit Pistons, tonight. If they win, then they can outright take the division lead on Wednesday if the Knicks also lose. But let’s not count our chickens, etc.