Preview and Chat: The Atlanta Hawks

Darius Soriano —  March 8, 2011

Records: Lakers 45-19 (3rd in West), Hawks 37-26 (5th in East)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 111.6 (2nd in NBA), Hawks 106.5 (18th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 104.5 (8th in NBA), Hawks 105.9 (13th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers:Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Hawks: Kirk Hinrich, Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, Al Horford
Injuries: Lakers: Devin Ebanks and Theo Ratliff (out); Hawks: none

The Lakers Coming in:Even though the Lakers started the season playing great ball winning their first 8 games, the current 7 game streak with no losses tops it as the Lakers best stretch of the year. And the reason is simple: the Lakers are playing top-level defense to get these wins. In the current streak, the Lakers have posted a defensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions) of 98.7, a number that if sustained for the entire year would rank them 1st in the league. Six of the Lakers’ 7 opponents have had at least one half of basketball where they’ve scored 40 points or less, which includes holding the Thunder (5th ranked offense) to a 31 point second half and the Spurs (3rd ranked offense) to a 37 point first half. By putting the clamps on teams, the Lakers have relied less on their (still proficient) 2nd ranked offense and have really put pressure on teams to score the ball. Now, consider the mental effect this has on opponents when teams know they’ll have to score points to beat the Lakers, but find that they can’t do so efficiently. Ultimately this sets up game conditions where teams start to press for baskets rather than playing calmly and in rhythm, which then results in teams not performing well even when they do get open shots. Right now the Lakers are reaping the benefits of a suffocating D in a variety of ways and I couldn’t be happier about it. As we’ve said around these parts for some time, “the Lakers will go as far as their defense takes them” and right now it looks like it can carry them a fair distance.

The Hawks Coming in:Is it just me, or have the Lakers faced a few teams of late that shook up their rosters at the trade deadline? Portland, OKC, and Charlotte all dumped starters before the trade deadline nearly two weeks ago. On that list as well is tonight’s opponent, the Hawks, who traded Mike Bibby to the Wizards in exchange for Kirk Hinrich. In this deal the Hawks swapped PG savvy and shooting acumen for defense and more size at the “One” and it’s been a bit of an up and down experiment so far.

The Hawks are 3-3 since the trade with a good win over the red hot Bulls as a victory that shines through. However, as good as that win over the Bulls was, a 20 point routing at the hands of the Knicks in the Hawks’ last game was equally bad. In that contest ATL got little bench production besides an inefficient 14 points from Jamal Crawford and couldn’t contain Amar’e on the other end of the floor. And sadly for the Hawks, they’ve got little time to find the chemistry that they’ll need before the playoffs start. Barring a collapse by the Magic or  a big surge from the Knicks, Atlanta is pretty much locked into the 5th seed in the East and on a collision course with the Magic – the team that swept them out of the playoffs last year.  If the Hawks hope to have a better showing this post season, they’ll need to integrate their new PG and find a formula that works down the stretch of games besides going to their “iso-Joe” offense that’s seemed to carry over from Mike Woodson to Larry Drew’s coaching regime. We’ll see if this final stretch proves that the Hawks can actually improve or if they’re stuck as a middle of the pack team that still needs roster changeover to truly compete.

Hawks Blogs: Hoopinion does a great job covering this team. As does Peach Tree Hoops. Give ’em both a click and enjoy good info on the Hawks.

Keys to game:These teams just met two weeks ago on the Tuesday following the all-star game. In that contest, the Lakers cruised to a win by showing up big on D and offering a balanced attack on offense where Kobe led the team with 20 points, but was joined in double figures by 4 other players (and Odom just missing with 9 of his own). Tonight, if the Lakers are to get their 8th straight win, a similar approach will be needed.

On defense, that means containing Joe Johnson on the perimeter, first and foremost. That task will fall squarely on Ron Artest’s shoulders, but Ron has been up to task of late. Johnson is a player who loves to isolate on the left wing where he can attack the middle of the court to his strong hand and either pull up for his jumper or a half floater if he gets inside 8 feet. I’d love to see Ron sit on Joe’s right hand and force Joe baseline into spaces where the help is waiting, but Joe can be crafty and will find ways to get to the middle of the floor. In these instances the Lakers bigs will need to be aware and active in contesting shots and the weak-side wings will need to also be aware of players like Crawford and Hinrich spotting up and Josh Smith cutting behind the defense for drop off passes or offensive rebounding position.

The Hawks other offensive actions rely heavily on P&R’s between Al Horford and a ball handler. Bibby’s savvy used to help a great deal in this set as he was a threat to either shoot behind the pick or string out the defense to set up Horford for an easy 16 foot jumper from up high. It will be interesting to see if Hinrich is as effective running this set or if the Hawks wait for Crawford to come in before they go to more P&R heavy sets. Either way, understand that Horford is a threat anytime he’s facing the basket and inside 20 feet as he’s developed a nice jumper from both the top of the key and the shallow corner. He needs to be respected and chased off his jumper, forcing him to put the ball on the floor to either shoot on the move or make a pass.

Offensively, the Lakers need to attack inside and force an undersized Hawks front line to defend the rim. Don’t get me wrong, Horford is a tank of a player who will fight for position and Smith is a great weak-side shot blocker, but both give up inches to their counterparts. I’d love to see Gasol get going against Smith by earning solid post position and then going to work with his back to the basket, while also still doing his typical strong work from the elbow and wing with his jumper. As for Bynum, I understand that his focus has shifted to providing more on defense but it’d also be nice for him to get a couple of touches outside of his normal great work on the offensive glass. If the Lakers don’t provide this when Bynum is flanked by the starters, please make it so when he’s playing with the 2nd unit.

In terms of the rest of the offense, Kobe should be able to do good work against Joe Johnson but as in other recent contests getting shots by working off the ball should be a primary goal. Johson is an able defender and even in isolations Kobe will find that Johnson’s size and quickness is adequate enough to contest his jumper and stay with him off the dribble. However, if Kobe is using screens and flashing to the elbow area to catch the ball on the move, Johnson’s ability to stay with him diminishes greatly.

In the end, this is a game that may not have the intrigue of the OKC or San Antonio games but it’s just as important in the bigger picture push towards the playoffs. Continuing to build momentum is key, considering Miami waits on Thursday and Dallas does the same on Saturday. The Lakers need to come out focused and ready to play hard using the same formula that’s gotten them their 7 straight wins.

Where you can watch: 4:00pm start time out West on KCAL. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710am.

Darius Soriano

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98 responses to Preview and Chat: The Atlanta Hawks

  1. Kirk Hinrich is an excellent defender. We should prepare for Derek Fisher to be locked down tonight; I hope Phil has a contingency plan.

    I don’t know why, but I’ve always pictured Horford as the perfect fit in Chicago next to Noah. I feel like if Chicago can use the Florida bond to snag Horford, they’ll have the perfect core for years (and no, I don’t know what they’d do with Boozer). High-level role players, with no one being too big of a star (or too much of a high-usage player) to diminish Rose’s effectiveness.

    Something I found interesting – On PBT, Kurt compared Tracy McGrady at this stage of his career to Ron Harper:

    I plead ignorance; I’ve seen very little of the Pistons this season. But that comparison to Harper really caught my attention…anyone thinking what I’m thinking?

  2. Yeah, I don’t think we can expect the usual scoring explosion from Fish tonight. Kobe and Pau need to realize this and pick up some of the slack.

  3. Maybe we can run Fish off back screens like C’s do with Ray Allen….. now I’m just piling on..

  4. at least this Fish-ribbing is clever/amusing

  5. Re: Bynum’s Offense

    Bynum has all his focus on defense right now because I don’t know if he has the energy yet to play hard on both sides of the ball. But he is close. By the end of the year Bynum will get plenty of low post touches… After all he is the Lakers best back to the basket threat. He is also the only big on the team that gets doubled consistently down on the block with just his sheer size. In the playoffs we will need Bynum’s back to the basket offense when the game slows down.

  6. 1)
    Lol… Can I sue Kurt for plagiarism? I was the first to compare TMac to Ron Harper in the offseason as I was begging the Lakers to sign him for the minimum to be our starting PG.

  7. 5, I’m not sure you can Re: a topic that hasn’t been brought up…

    1, if I were Chicago, I would be calling Atlanta every day this offseason to see if I could dupe them into trading Horford for Boozer. I’d also push hard to get Jamal Crawford as a free agent.

  8. I think the Hawks will win tonight considering the Lakers are coming off that emotional high against the Spurs. But remember, I have a tendency to jinks this team

  9. 7 – Rose-Crawford-Deng-Horford-Noah? A steady PG in Watson, a sharpshooter in Korver, and a high-potential big in Asik off the bench? Wow.

    Shooting a bit lower, I think Aaron Afflalo would be a solid fit next to Rose in the backcourt. Great defensive pair in AA and Deng, solid if not spectacular shooters.

  10. Is there such thing as a trap game against a playoff team? The Lakers handled the Hawks easily in their last meeting and they’re also the weakest team they’ll play on the current four game roadie.

    If the defense is crisp out of the box I think the Lakers could actually blow them out again but if for some reason the focus / intensity isn’t there from the get go this has the potential to be a very difficult game. However, based on the demeanor of the Lakers over the past few I’m guessing it’s way more likely to be the former.

  11. 8th win on the 8th day of the month. Seems like a good omen to me…

  12. 10, exactly. The Lakers really have no reason to stay motivated this game. A loss is not that big of a deal. They have won 7 straight and just crushed the leagues best team record wise. I will be surprised if they win big tonight.

  13. I can’t wait to see Chicago in the playoffs because I, unlike most people think they will be an early out. I have a (complicated) theory that basketball, especially at the NBA level isn’t set up to have your point guard be your number one scoring option on a championship caliber team.

  14. 13 – Derek Fisher disagrees with you.

  15. 13. Pistons, Isiah Thomas.

  16. Two teams I believe will be the last two left in the east, Orlando and Chicago.

  17. pau and drew all day! lets keep it inside

  18. also on the 2004 Pistons team Chauncey Billups was the second leading scorer behind Rip Hamilton. Hamilton averaged 17.6 and Chauncey Averaged 16.9. SO he was probably the leading scorer a lot of their games.

  19. Drew finally gets it and im very happy we didnt trade him. On his twitter account he put in his bio…

    “there is no i in team. Just win baby!”

    I am so so so happy for this kid.

  20. Just when I was feeling a SMALL bit of frustration at the bench, Steve Blake with the 3 to finish the quarter.


  21. If Bynum played like this all year. Defensive player of the year without a doubt!!!!

  22. ten point lead with 0 free throws aint bad

  23. The more I’ve read Bynum’s quotes and thought about it, I think its Person’s new defensive scheme that has brought about this change in Drew. It’s made Drew sort of our superstar on defense, given him so much responsibility.

    Look at this quote from Drew talking about the new defensive scheme:

    “It actually requires me to be more active,” he said. “But in doing so, I feel better and I’m more a part of the flow of the game.”

    Before, he needed to be involved on offense to be a part of the flow. But this tweaked scheme may have psychologically made Drew felt more responsible, more critical to our success, and brought about this remarkable maturity and accountability.

  24. Snoopy – I’ve been thinking exactly the same thing regarding Drew. The little changes to the defensive scheme seemed to have energised him. Combine this with having had more time to build strength in the knees and get into game condition, and we’re seeing a new focus, especially on the defensive end.

    I like.

  25. The scorer table banner for the Hawks radio station cracks me up. “99X now at 97.9”

  26. 23. 24.

    I think Drew needed a defined role. Now that he has one, he knows exactly what to focus on. I know hes good friends with Artest so the defensive mentality might have come from that along with Person calling him the captain on defense.

  27. LO drains both FT’s, things are going good.

  28. Lakers playing sick right now. I’m liking their swarming perimeter defense, its forcing Atlanta to take contested jumpers which they’re mostly not making. Good to see.

    About the issue of scoring PGs, I’m squarely with Archon. Derrick Rose is a phenomenal player, probably the most athletic player in the league (sorry ‘Bron) but he has never met a difficult shot attempt he didn’t like. I don’t know if you guys saw the game against Miami on Sunday on ESPN, but I firmly believe the Bulls would have lost that game against a team like the Celtics. As well as Rose played, he couldn’t generate much offense from his team and went into scoring mode, shooting an airball and turning over the ball consecutively. If not for some clutch plays by Deng, it might be a different story. I don’t see how the Bulls get far in the playoffs against a Boston or Orlando playing like that. In crunch time, they tend to let Rose take over which is detrimental.

    Also, for those who bring up Billups and Isiah, they were/are scorers AS WELL AS facilitators. Rose is more of a scorer than anything else, he’s a SG trapped in a PG’s body. Sure, his assists have gone up this year but assists are a very misleading metric. Surely, with a team featuring Boozer, Noah, Deng, Korver etc, his stats will go up. The Bulls ARE a contending team, but I doubt they’ll reach the Finals

  29. These Hawks announcers are homing HARD. Johnson didn’t make a lot of contact with Kobe on the shot, but he did get under him on the way down.

  30. I stand corrected LOfan, Isiah Thomas was the first option on their championship teams (although based on shot attempts and PPG, Joe Dumars was definitely a 1A, as opposed to a clear #2 scoring option).

    The point is it’s rare to find championship teams where the PG was also the clear primary scorer.

  31. Kobe Bryant now #6 all-time scorer in NBA history

  32. I don’t know if many think the Bulls will win the championship. I don’t see them getting past Boston.

    I generally agree with Archon’s philosophy, but we should keep in mind beliefs like that are meant to be broken. In the late 80s, many were convinced you couldn’t win centering your team around a high-usage scoring shooting guard; they were convinced a champion had to be built around passers like Magic or Bird. Another Bulls guard proved them wrong.

    I’ve generally been hard on Rose, partly because I love CP3 and the way he plays the true PG role, and I always play the comparison game. But I also think Rose has raised his game tremendously in the postseason (I know, small sample size) and I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Let’s just say it’s an intriguing storyline either way. I don’t think the Bulls are ready this year, but I can see them getting there in a couple years with a couple more pieces.

  33. The funny thing about the Bulls and the team’s two-guard need — as Snoopy and others spoke of earlier in the thread — is the fact that Chicago had the guy who filled that need to a T in Ben Gordon. But they let him walk away.

    Yes, his numbers are down in Detroit. But much of that is likely the result of playing for a bad team and losing interest. You can’t tell me playing in a sold-out United Center, chasing a championship ring plus having Rose get him good looks night-in and night-out that Gordon would still be a 13 ppg player this year.

    Talk about the one that got away…

  34. So far so good. I think the intensity has been solid for the Lakers. They definitely showed up for the game.

    It’s nice to see them executing at such a high level offensively. If not for a few careless turnovers by the bench and the fact that Atlanta has hit a few unlikely jumpers (J. Smith lays a world class brick then drills his next one. Beauty.) then the Lakers would probably be up double digits or more right now.

    I expect all the points in the paint by the Lakers to start paying dividends sometime in the middle of the third quarter when they’re still making layups and Atlanta goes on a dry spell with their perimeter game.

  35. 30. i see why you would think that a leading scorer on a team cant be a pg. Its very rare. But Chicago is a beast of a defensive team and thats something that can get them over the hump much like the pistons. I read celtics and magics blogs, and the team they seem to most be afraid of is Chicago.

    That are always exceptions to the rules. People forget that Magic was the leading scorer on the 85 team during the regular season averaging 24 points a game. During the playoffs his numbers dropped a bit and he was down to 21.8 points a game and worthy averaged 23.6.

  36. re: Chicago v Boston – I don’t see anyone in the East beating a healthy Boston team in the playoffs. Chicago is the second best team in the East.

  37. There is no way Ben Gordon is worth 5 years 55 million. He is undersized and way too one dimensional. I like the Bulls team as it is constructed now. Bigger stronger, and an emphasis on defense.

  38. The Lakers do seem to be able to just “turn the switch on” during the season, and they have turned it on for sure.

  39. 34. I was afraid of the boston team before the trade. Trust me, they lost way too much size and are hoping for shaq to be 100%. Its just not going to happen. They might make the finals still but I think orlando and chi can beat them. No guarantees though.

  40. also, with Bynums new attitude, as long as we can stay healthy, no team in the league can beat us 4 out of 7 times.

  41. Double-doubles in the middle of the 3rd for both Pau & Drew. Good to see.

  42. Stifling Defense!

  43. Bynum/Gasol vs Horford/Smith is not a fair fight.

  44. I have to say…in light of Bynum’s healthy body and very healthy attitude, that I am extremely glad that they didn’t make that non-trade. Please stay healthy ‘Drew!!

  45. im not sure if this has been talked about but is there any reason why Kobe’s 3 point shot has left him, under .320 this year

  46. So, at what point of the 4th quarter will we see Joe Smith?

    If I had a tiny complaint about the game, it’d be Kobe looking for that 3 point dagger here in the 3rd. He’s been playing a pretty efficient game overall, and I don’t know if we need that “big” 3.

  47. AusPhil, I’d like to see Kobe mostly retire his three point shot. cf. James’ post above yours.

  48. Kobe’s fingers are killing his 3 pointer, I think.

  49. Since the All Star break, Bynum is the MVP of the Lakers.

    And Blake just needs to keep shooting every game till he finds his shot.

  50. ugh, all the starters back in the game …

  51. R – That’s exactly what I was thinking. When it was 20 points in the 3rd, I was hoping for iced knees and minutes for Smith (and even Luke). But that’s not a likely outcome right now.

  52. and of course, KB does it again with the three. Thats the only reason I dont care how many he misses even when shoots 30 percent for the season.

  53. Bynum patrolling the paint, I like the sound of that, don’t you?

    Nobody expected the bench to hold the lead, did you, I sure did not, unfortunately.

  54. Awesome game by Andrew Bynum. Nice 3 by Kobe

  55. Is this crunch-time (ish) minutes for Bynum?

  56. 8 in a row…now let’s take our talents to South Beach…
    (btw, hope the Heat beat Portland tonite because another loss would make Thursday sooooooo big for them they will throw everything but the kitchen sink to win that game). So better for the Heat to win and feel slightly less panicked.

  57. unneccesary play by kobe. for no reason.

  58. Bynum is becoming a BEAST.

  59. Unstoppable fish with 50% shooting and 11 points… guess the Hawks defended him rather well…

  60. @55. You know what’s funny?? KOBE said the “I’ve decided to take my talents to the NBA” when he first announced he was entering the draft! I wonder if LeBron knew that.

  61. Another great game from Drew. Kobe shot within the confines of the offense, good offensive game for LO, good all around games for Fish and Pau. A nice controlled game for Ron, 3-8 isn’t bad and he played good defense. The Lakers played great all around defense.

    To the bad, another 1-for-3 for Blake. Now 22 of 65 games with either 0-for (two or more) or 1-for (three of more). I have to complain about something and Blake is making it easy.

  62. jordan farmar was a better back up than blake. we weren’t so sure back in October but now we know.

    hopefully he can get it together. he is playing hard. i like his passing, but he needs to hit some shots

  63. Man, I don’t know how we pulled this one out with D.Fish notching the team’s second best +/-. Need an upgrade fast or else half the league’s point guards will beat us single-handedly.

  64. BLAKE is the final piece to the puzzle. He needs a break out game…I cant remember the last time he scored in double figures.

  65. LOfan

    I though so too, but Kobe was in attack mode the entire night. Every time the camera was on him he had his “i want to rip your heart out” face on with the jaw jutting out.

    He was out for blood and apparently doesn’t give a flying !@#$ about being politically correct.

    He wanted a high winning margin to send a message, and he was ticked when Kirk hit that 3 at the end of the game too.

  66. It was nice to see Drew be a part of the unit that finished the game. He earned it, no doubt.

    What’s interesting about that last 5 minutes after the lead was cut to 8 was that the Lakers offense was not exactly fluid. Mostly it was manufacturing free throws in the post and then one bailout three pointer by Kobe in the corner. In fact the only clean possession was a straight Gasol up. Not sure if this directly correlates to Bynum’s presence on the court but it’s worth noting.

    Regardless, the Lakers defense during the same stretch was rock solid. Having Bynum in there is a difference maker, and I’m betting the Lakers will be able to make adjustments to score if the situation necessities having Bynum on the floor during crunch time.

    Overall, not much to complain about. Good win.

  67. QUESTION: Is it just me or is Portland a lot scarier with Gerald Wallace in the lineup?? I would not like to play them in the first round.

  68. 56, I disagree with you. I rahter the Heat lose tonight. We will be going into that game with all the confidence in the world and the Heat will continue to press, especially against us. If they win tonight, they will be more confident for thursday game.

  69. Zephid,
    You see what I mean about Gasol’s back to the basket game? It’s not bad of course but he cant post up against Centers and even against SFs like Josh Smith while very effective… Atlanta wasn’t sending a double team. Contrast that to how the Hawks defended the Lakers big Center and it speaks volumes. Bynum was doubled every time he was thrown the ball in the post. I don’t know why I have to say this… But this is in no way a knock on Gasol. He is a face up perimter PF like Lamarcus Aldridge, Amare, and KG. That’s not bad company to be in.

    I think the offense wasn’t as fluid more so because of the game itself and momentum shift. The Lakers offense with those 5 on the floor was dominant to start the game and has been so far this season. I understand crunch time is different… But size, rebounding, and defense are what’s most important to end games as there are more misses that need to be rebounded when the pressure picks up.

  70. Tej

    I guess you’re right on that one. I like the ‘tude’

  71. I always want the heat to lose. Doesn’t matter if they win or lose tonight. The Lakers are running through them on Thursday.

  72. 68, didn’t watch the game.

  73. What do you guys think about phil’s comments regarding the big 3 cry babies in miami?

    My initial reaction was aaargh, stop it phil! Don’t give them extra motivation a couple of days before you play them!


  74. 73.

    If they get motivated more than they already should be,just by us calling them crybabies (LOL)…. then clearly they aren’t doing their jobs. Youngins need to learn from Kobe and the Laker squad in general .

  75. The Heat have lost 5 of 6 and may be about to lose their fifth in a row. If they need ‘extra motivation’ for a game like this they’re in even more trouble than I thought.

  76. Miami, get ready. We are aiming right at you.

  77. Several of you guys mentioned TMac as a potential player for the Lakers but I think it was best for him to go to Detroit and see what it feels like to be on a loser. If it humbled him somewhat, he would fit better with the Lakers next year. You remember, he wanted major minutes in the beginning and that was why Chicago bowed out on him. He still thought of himself as a superstar. He would not be that with the Lakers. He would be another complimentary piece.

  78. 69/aaron: gasol’s back to the basket game is masterful. the way i see it, he’s been given free rein to develop his face up game the last two seasons.

  79. @busboys: tmac spent a lot of time on losing squads with toronto and the magic. Tmac knows how it feels to lose by now I think. 🙂

  80. Memphis and Portland are scarier now with their respective trades. Someone is going to get an earlier than expected exit from the playoffs. More than likely San Antonio.

  81. Portland beat Miami!!! Hells yes!!!

  82. I cant wait til thursday. Payback from that Christmas disaster.

  83. Drew’s line: 16 PT (8-10 FG), 16 REB, 3 AST, 3 BLK, 99 altered shots


  84. 84. Let’s finish 2nd in the West and cross our fingers for Portland to finish 5th, which I think they will. I’m hoping Memphis can catch Denver for 6th, giving us either Denver or NOLA in the first round. I want a first round sweep to give Kobe and Drew some rest before the second round.

  85. Phil Jackson used to let the second unit work through their problems instead of calling a time out when they struggled. I wonder why he is giving them such a short leash now.

  86. @ The Dude Abides

    “99 altered shots” …. Hilarious

  87. Vincent – I think Phil wants the second seed in the West. Things are getting ugly with the improvement of Memphis and Portland. And you want HCA for as much as possible knowing you won’t have it in the conference finals if San Anotnio makes it that far.

    At least that is why I think he put the starters back in. Every game matters now.

  88. Dude,
    Lol… You took my joke. I text that to my buddy right after the game… Except I wrote 47 altered shots. Great minds think alike.

  89. I will enjoy watching our Lakers grind the Heat even further down the basement.

  90. @Vincent

    They are not playing smart basketball. Too many early shots, too many jumpers, not getting the ball inside, the lack of offensive execution is allowing teams back into the game. The defense stinks because our defensive strategy is predicated on our offense shot selection. Shannon needs to play under control, Blake needs to hit a shot, and the second unit as a whole needs to run the triangle with a sense of purpose.

    This is why some of us wanted someone new at the back of the line to push the second unit. We don’t need anyone major, just someone who wants to play and do what is necessary to win. Shannon has gotten too comfortable and full of himself (huge mistake) and Blake looks terrified. LO still looses focus in blowouts, but how can you blame him. He is accustom to running with the big dogs.

  91. Man o man, the Heat HAVE to win Thursday … don’t they?

  92. LOfan,

    Where did you read/hear Bynum and artest are really good friends? I’d like to read about that

  93. Vincent,
    Two points about Phil’s rotation the last couple of games…
    1) The 2nd unit really botched things up and Phil is telling them to follow the script or sit on the pine – no exceptions.
    2) We are nearing the playoffs and I think he wants Andrew to get the feel of playing in the last few minutes because he may have to play him this way in the playoffs. He doesn’t want it to be a new feeling at that time, but just for Andrew to act as if he has been there before.

  94. Let’s get this straight, undefeated out of the break we all need to be the A+ student and harp on something. Before it was Kobe’s shot selection, Pau’s effort, and now it’s the 2nd units downfalls.

    Let’s put something into perspective. When the T-wolves run the triangle they did not have success.

    The triangle is predicated on having a dominant post player or excellent spacing to allow open jump shots.

    The second unit is playing without Kobe cleaning up bad possessions. It’s not easy to run the triangle without dominant players that can just demand the ball time and again (Kobe and Shaq). The second unit struggles because they’re not as comfortable in the triangle as the other veterans are.

    Things could be worse…but this is something that the Killer B’s can work on before the playoffs start.

  95. I wanted to comment on Bynum’s play during this streak before (I’m a regular reader but rare commenter), but happily the regular contributors have been giving him the props he deserves. Drew really seems to have turned a corner in his new defense-first approach to the game.

    My favorite moment tonight happened with 3 minutes left in the game. Drew attempted to get the block, but the Hawk possession ends up with Joe Johnson called for traveling because of Drew altering the shot. Drew looks at the ref, signals traveling himself, and swings a fist in celebration when the ref makes the right call.

    Now THAT is what I’m talking about. It doesn’t have to show up in the box score. Any means necessary to regain possession. Keep it up Andrew!

  96. Is it just me, or does Kobe rarely pass it to Bynum?