Running with Zaza

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10 Things I Think About the Hawks' Weekend Split

1. Before talking about the Hawks’ two games, Vince Carter of the Nets deserves some press. I am not sure why, but his performance in the last minutes against the Toronto Raptors is not getting any attention. Carter was incredible in the last minutes and in overtime. ESPN only showed the game ending dunk and the long 3 point shot to send the game into overtime. Those two plays should be the best plays of the week. What most people did not see was that Carter basically took over the game with the Nets down double figures. He scored on almost every possession of the last minute of the game. Carter’s performance in the clutch was sensational—I wish more people were talking about it. The game somehow got lost in the shuffle.

2. What has happened to Flip Murray? Murray was playing great at the beginning of the season, but he has fallen off in the last few games. He might have been getting too much attention for the Hawks’ quick start. He looks like he is trying to score every time he touches the basketball. I like his offensive aggressiveness, but he needs to pass the ball sometimes. The Hawks do not need Flip to dribble the ball down in the half court set, take his man off the dribble, and shoot a contested shot. The emergence of Acie Law in the last week might give Coach Woodson a way to control Flip and get Acie some more minutes.

3. Super Joe Johnson is on the verge of becoming one of the top all around players in the NBA. He defends, scores, passes, etc. Joe does a little bit of everything. He is going to have to learn to score when facing the double team. Delonte West did a great job guarding him in the Cavs game. Joe looked tired against the Cavs. He did carry the load against the Bobcats, but the smaller, quicker West gave him trouble.

4. Believe it or not Al Horford keeps getting better every game. He is a better player on both ends of the court right now than Emeka Okafor. He is better than any of the Cavs interior players. Varejaeo might be more athletic, but he is not nearly as skilled on the offensive end. Horford drove from the foul line into the post and scored on Ben Wallace and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. When Horford is healthy, he is the only guy that the Hawks can consistently go to on the post

5. What was Coach Larry Brown doing in the first half of the Hawks versus Bobcats game on Friday night? The Bobcats were off to a great start with Gerald Wallace flying around and scoring lay ups at will. On one play, Wallace grabbed a rebound and dribble coast to coast for a lay up without being contested by any Hawks’ players. Then, inexplicably, Wallace was out for an extended rest, and Brown played his entire roster in the first half. In the 2nd quarter, he had Matt Carroll, Sean May, and Adam Morrison in the game at the same time. Brown obviously was trying to prove a point to someone, but it cost the Bobcats.

6. If you went through every player in the NBA and ranked the players, Sean May and Adam Morrison would be at the very bottom. May looked terrible in the minutes that he played against the Hawks. He is totally out of game shape. I am pretty sure that he physically cannot get down into a defensive stance. I would take Solomon Jones and Othello Hunter over May right now. Morrison was unrecognizable. He has a new haircut and I had not idea who he was. He looks bigger and kind of like a poor man’s Brian Cardinal. That’s poor. On the few times he caught the ball on the offensive end, he did not even face the basket to try to score. You can start looking for personnel changes from the Bobcats—the typical Larry Brown makeover should start fairly soon.

7. The Hawks split the games this weekend. They beat the Bobcats on Friday and lost to the Cavs on Saturday. Marvin Williams and Mo Evans hit big shots against the Bobcats down the stretch to help win the game. One big concern for the Coach Woodson has to be the very slow starts to the games. The Hawks were down big after the first quarter in both games. Luckily, the Bobcats are not a very good team, and Larry Brown was messing around with his player rotation. Against the Cavs, the Hawks’ second unit played hard and made runs against the Cavs, but Lebron and company never let them get closer than 10 points in the second half. Without Josh Smith, the Hawks cannot beat any of the top 4 teams in the Eastern Conference.

8. Can Lebron James be stopped? The Cavs beat the Hawks on Saturday night, and Lebron almost had a triple double in the game. The incredible part of the game is that Lebron did not seem to be playing well or even interested in the game in the first half. He made some plays, but then in the second half, he took over the game. Sometimes, Lebron is so big physically that it makes everyone else on the court look overwhelmed. After Lebron was hit in the face in the 4th quarter, he came down the court and received the basketball on the wing. The Cavs cleared out and sent Big Z over to set a ball screen. With Mo Evans fighting over the screen, Lebron just shouldered him out of the way, thundered down the lane, and dunked on Evans and Solomon Jones about as hard as humanly possible to dunk the basketball. The dunk was fierce, ferocious, and insert your own adjective here.

9. Speaking of Lebron getting hit in the face, I have watched a ton of NBA games going back to the 1980’s, but I cannot remember seeing a play called that way by the officials. Acie Law drove the lane with authority, switched hands, and scored a right-handed lay up. The officials whistled a foul on one of the Cavaliers on the drive—count the basket and Acie goes to the foul line. However, on the play, Acie flailed with his left hand and hit Lebron right in the nose. The officials called a technical on Law for the blow. The Cavs shot a technical free throw and then Acie shot his free throw. The Cavs scorer must have been just as confused as I was, because they did not give the Hawks the 2 point basket until the next time down the court.

10. Cavaliers are a much improved team. The main improvement is the addition of Moe Williams in the back court. Williams can play either guard spot. He plays off Lebron very well and is ready to knock down open 3 point shots on drives to the basket. Anytime that the Hawks made a run, the Cavs threw the ball to Lebron and ran a screen and roll at the top of the floor. Lebron is such a great passer that he creates easy baskets for everyone. Add to that the Cavs unselfish, team mindset and you have a great recipe for success. Several times Lebron passed out of the double team and the Cavs rotated the basketball for wide open shots. Wally, Moe, and Boobie Gibson all can knock down open 3 point shots.


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