Defense Sets Stage for Heroics

Monday, November 16, 2009
By Jon Newberry

Everyone will remember Joe Johnson’s 3-pointers and dramatic drive to the basket. They stood up and cheered when Smoove sealed the win in overtime with a jam. What shouldn’t be lost in the commotion is the defensive frenzy that started the quarter and gave the offense enough time to find its rhythm. It was over halfway through the quarter before the Blazers got a good look through their offensive set.

Here is a chart of the Hawks defensive possessions to start the 4th:
-Steal by Zaza
-Block by Horford
-Contested missed jump shot
-Forced jump shot as shot clock expires
-Offensive Foul
-Contested jump shot as shot clock winds down
-Forced post move by Oden (Offensive rebound by Miller who gets fouled and makes free throws)
-Turnover by Hawks leads to transition lay-up and free throw

-Marvin blocks a 3-point attempt
-Smoove blocks Oden’s shot; Oden misses put-back
-Turnover, stepped out of bounds
-Roy hits jumper with 5:48 left in regulation

Before Roy hits the jumper the Hawks had allowed one quality shot in 11 possessions, and that was allowed because of a mistake on defense. 11 possessions is usually enough time for Atlanta to make up more than a nine point deficit, but tonight shots were not falling until the defense kicked open the door and energized the crowd.

This wasn’t a struggling team having trouble closing the door on the road. This was arguably the league’s hottest team trying to extend their winning streak to seven games and finish their road trip 5-0. The Hawks athleticism and intensity was just that good to start the quarter and the result was a ‘W’ on a night when all signs pointed to a loss.

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