Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Warriors fall to Hawks 103-93 in first game of East coast trip

To ask the Warriors to beat the Hawks in Atlanta would have been too much. Not completely out of the question, but several Warriors would have had to contribute big. Dorell Wright played the best game of his career as he scored 32 points (career high), grabbed 11 boards, and made two steals. D-Wright was also 4-9 from three point range. The Warriors also got 10 points from Lou Amundson, who played his best game in a Warriors uniform. If I didn't see the stats of Warriors not named Dorell or Lou, I would have assumed the Warriors won.

Not if Monta Ellis and Steph Curry combine for 21 points. It's not like they played poorly. Curry missed all three of his three point attempts and the Hawks prevented Ellis from getting to the rim. I hate to make excuses for Monta, but he rolled his ankle on the Christmas day win over the Blazers on a play in the fourth quarter. It happened when Monta intercepted a pass and ran it back for a breakaway dunk. Portland subsequently called timeout and you could see Ellis hobble toward the Warriors bench. Otherwise we would have seen his typical video game-ish performance.

The Hawks deserve credit for having a good defensive game plan. They packed the lane and dared the Warrior sto shoot jumpers. It worked in the beginning, but when the shots didn't fall for the Warriors, the Hawks put together some runs to separate themselves. The first run was an 8-0 run about half way through the first quarter. The next big run was a 13-0 push in the second quarter. The Warriors missed jumpers and Atlanta pounded the ball into the paint with Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia.

The Hawks locked up the Warriors, except for D-Wright, who's shooting kept the Warriors from getting blown out. It appeared D-Wright was more assertive on offense because he knew Monta wasn't at full strength with that sore ankle.

The Warriors started the half out nicely with Curry hitting a jumper off a well designed inbound play. After that, the Warriors looked like a jet-lagged bunch. A few sloppy turnovers, sluggish transition defense, and lack of execution on offense led to 9-0 Hawks run. Two threes by Mike Bibby and one trey from Joe Johnson. The Warriors countered with a 10-2 run of their own to make the score 67-63 Hawks. That was as close as they'd get.

The game was essentially over with 5:44 in the fourth when Josh Smith tossed an ally-oop to Al Horford to put the Hawks up 10. The Warriors couldn't make up any ground from that point on.

The Warriors didn't play bad, but "not bad" doesn't beat this Hawks team in Atlanta. The Warriors made some sloppy turnovers. When D-Wright got his pocket picked at half court in traffic on a fast break with the Warriors down just four points, that killed any momentum. They didn't get the breaks needed to beat a solid playoff caliber team on the road. This game wasn't a blowout by any means. The Hawks just out-executed the Warriors and got higher percentage points in the paint.

Hopefully the Warriors can put this game behind and take advantage of a very beatable Bobcats squad. Of course, I'd love to see the Warriors beat Stephen Jackson. Speaking of solid small forwards, I'd like to see Dorell Wright stay hot. D-Wright has back to back games with 20 points and has fourished with the return of Curry as another shooter opposing defenses must account for.

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