The Hawks play no D but hand Coach Bud a teaching moment

"Here's where I draw up my Langston Galloway defense."  (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

“Here’s where I draw up my Langston Galloway defense.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

"Here's where I draw up my Langston Galloway defense."  (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

“Here’s where I draw up my Langston Galloway defense.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Mike Budenholzer could have thrown a snit fit after his Atlanta Hawks pulled a no-show on defense against the bottom-of-the-barrel New York Knickerbockers. He could have thundered, “This stuff won’t fly come the playoffs!” And he’d have been correct. But I’m guessing his men knew that already, which is why those words were left unsaid, at least to us media types.

These were the Knicks’ quarter-by-quarter field-goal percentages Monday — 50.0, 57.1, 56.1, 55.0.  In no period did the 16-win visitors make fewer than half their shots, which is why they left having won a 17th game. (The Hawks are still stuck on 60, FYI.) The Hawks’ defensive rotations were non-existent. Yes, the Knicks knocked the bottom out of the ol’ basket, but still: These were open shots. Pros are supposed to make open shots.

Even pros like Langston Galloway, an undrafted rookie up from the D-League who scored a career-best 26 points against the East’s No. 1 seed. Tim Hardaway Jr. had 23, and the legendary Jason Smith had 20. It’s one thing if Carmelo Anthony lights you up, but he hasn’t played for a while now. The Knicks are playing for lottery position, and they shot so well against the Hawks as to kind of mess that up.

But enough about the Knicks. At issue are the Hawks, whose focus was, shall we say, elsewhere. This wasn’t to be unexpected. It’s not easy to go half-speed, which is essentially what the Hawks have, by design, sought to do the past month. They’re trying to gear up for the playoffs while gearing down so nobody gets hurt — they haven’t done so well on the nobody-getting-hurt part, either — and that’s a fine line to tread.

Fourteen seconds into the second half, Budenholzer called timeout after his team ran something other than the prescribed play. “We need a better focus,” he said afterward, using that word again, and from there on the Hawks gave a pretty good effort. They never really guarded the Knicks — after the Hawks, who’d trailed by 17, forged a tie with nine minutes remaining, they yielded three consecutive 3-pointers — but they played with more spirit.

Budenholzer liked that. Maybe this game actually went the way he, in his secretive heart of hearts, wanted. His team lost to a lousy opponent, which always stings, but played something close to full speed in the second half, which wasn’t a bad thing, either. “When we map it out, we think we’re just going to play our game,” he said. “To have to really work, to really blow it out (meaning play hard), that’s really good.”

No ranting. No tut-tutting. Just a smart coach who knows he has a smart team and who trusts those players to connect the dots. If they defend like this in Round 1, they won’t see Round 2. But they won’t defend like this in Round 1. They’ll defend the way they usually do because every team is desperate come the postseason.

The Hawks had a great chance to tie it inside the final 10 seconds, but the flip shot Jeff Teague has made 100 times this season didn’t fall. That probably suited Budenholzer, too. Coaches like to win, duh, but a coach with a point to make often cringes when his team slops around but pulls it out at the end. The Hawks lost 112-108 when four of their usual starters worked at least 33 minutes. That should get this team’s attention.

As Budenholzer said: “Sometimes it’s good to learn from what you don’t do.”

From myajc: Are the Hawks playoff-ready? Yes, I say.

Reader Comments 0

20 comments
Wilbo
Wilbo

Uh-oh! Now Sefaloosha says the bad ol' nasty Police broke his widdle weg and it's all their fault.


No, no, no, no, no, we sure as hell don't wanna do something extreme like accept responsibility for the inexcusable stupidity of our behavior, now, do we?


It'll be EXACTLY the same when they get chumped like punks in the playoffs. In true Atlanta pro sports style, it will be somebody else's fault they didn't compete. Maybe the moon will be in Virgo, who knows. There will definitely be some goofy limp arse excuse, and you suckas will lap it up like a fat hungry baby all over a big bowl of pablum that his mommie put way too much sugar in.


Losers.

BaseballBuff
BaseballBuff

The truth is that this team has not been nearly as impressive since their winning streak ended.  Talk about meaningless games all you want, but losing back-to-back contests to lowly teams is not the way to head into the playoffs. Every game played hard creates good habits, and every game played lazily creates bad habits. I don't see the Hawks getting past the second round, all the hype notwithstanding.

stogiefogey
stogiefogey

Watching the Hawks schlepping around and losing to the lowly Knicks last night was disgusting. They disrespected their  fans (sold out game) who paid to see a good performance? Now more convinced than ever that these fakers will fold in the first or second round.

PeterNapa
PeterNapa

@Bumper15 People like you are the reason ATL is looked upon as a lousy sports town.

Wilbo
Wilbo

@Bumper15


No, Fizzlebrain, it is people like YOU who make Atlanta Loser Town, USA. You pizzwads who with a dumbox grin on your piefaces who accept every failure, every choke, every wilt in the postseason, every lack of effort, every falling short, every cowardly surrender to more highly motivated teams, EVERY playoff flop send the clear message to Atlanta players and ownerships "We ain't gotta do squat but collect a check or bank the attendance & TV receipts and we can just keep on flopping' choking' underachieving' just like we always have, ain't nobody gonna say #@&%*!" If we had a fan base - maybe w people like Bumper15 - who would boo their goofy butts right outta town and leave their venues stone cold empty until they made a genuine effort to put championship caliber teams on the field.


Demand nothing - get nothing.

DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

The Hawks played defense sometimes, the Hawks made shots sometimes and the Hawks played with energy sometimes. All in all it was sometime--me performance.

devounknown1000
devounknown1000

Hawks must win tomorrow and play shut down defense going into playoffs.


GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

BravesFan79
BravesFan79

Does anyone REALLY want to beat the Bulls and ensure seeing them in the 2nd round instead of Toronto??

I say rest everyone important!

Wilbo
Wilbo

Hope on to your hats, little lovelies! The demise of the Atlanta Hawks is going to be sudden, ugly, and thorough.

afx
afx

@Wilbo  rumors of Hawks demise sounds little premature.

pride
pride

Demarre talking about playing for the Knicks.  He couldn't keep his mouth shut until after the playoffs.  Pisses me off as did 2 key players out at 4 in the morning. We are losing our Karma quickly and this does not bode well for the playoffs.  Sort of sickening.

cspecial
cspecial

mark, you can"t judge the hawks vs a meaningless team and game.the knicks are the worst team in the league.i am concern about the goofiness and not caring attitude of kyle korver, al hordford, demarri carroll and mike scott.fundamentals such as boxing out staying in between your man and the basket and many other items these gentlemen don"t execute.these must be corrected for post season. they act as though they haven"t seen basketball lately.this is not the time for this.

devounknown1000
devounknown1000

Teague and Horford have to lead the way on defense, Teague Is not pressure the ball to create turnover or steals, if Teague la la land on defense the Hawks will not go very far in the Playoffs, Horford must become more physical in the paint, I am not seeing the energy from him to lead the way.


TEAGUE AND HORFORD MUST STEP THERE GAME UP AND LEAD THE TEAM ON DEFENSE IF HAWKS ARE GOING HAVE A CHANCE.


GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

bpgt
bpgt

I didn't watch a lot of the game, but I did see the beginning of the 2nd half when Bud called the timeout and literally didn't allow the team to even get back to the bench area.  I thought to myself "you never see that in the NBA".  So I definitely think it was a good thing.  You can tell the players actually listen, too.  The loss doesn't mean anything.  I'm really not even sure why the Knicks were trying to win.  I guess they were just making lucky shots.

nomanland5
nomanland5

@bpgt they had a lead on lowest winning season over Phil by 2 games. why not win one and make your younger happy? no suprised they tried hard

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

I agree that this was not really that suprising, but I'm seeing J Teague going solo way to often.  This team is not nearly as good without Shroeder off the bench and obviously without Milsap.  We better start everybody in this last game and start to gear up!


GO HAWKS

nomanland5
nomanland5

@CowbellHell that last shot teague took was a joke. check the reply his smiling and watching the knicks rebound. almost disgusted to have him playing starter since he ain't taking every game serious anymore. i hope Dennis can make up for it

FalconUGAFan
FalconUGAFan

Good article. It is a fine line when you clinch so far out. Hard for the players to remain focused. Time will tell if Bud made the right calls. I like their chances.