Hawks head coach Larry Drew lamented his team’s poor shot selection after a loss in Boston on Friday, one where his team gave up 118 points to a Celtics squad that hadn’t scored that many since an overtime win over the Nuggets way back on Feb. 10.
Atlanta shot 45.5 percent from the field as a team, which isn’t terrible. But Drew said the types of shots his players were taking ended up feeding into his opponent’s hands.
From Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
“If you are not taking good shots, it’s as good as a turnover,” Drew said. “That is not anything we’ve haven’t talked about every road game we’ve played. We talk about our shot selection. We talk about not turning the ball over. We talk about limiting them to one shot and coming up with the rebound. When you take bad shots it’s as good as a turnover and tonight we took quite a few.”
Drew didn’t name names, of course, but a cursory glance at the box score tells us that he must have been referring to Josh Smith.
On a night when Al Horford was out of the lineup due to illness, Smith took it upon himself to take control of the offense. He finished with 18 points on 7-23 shooting, including making just one of his five shots from three-point distance.
Smith shot the ball 10 more times than any of his teammates, and checking out where the shots were coming from, it’s not difficult to see exactly what his head coach was talking about.
There’s a lot of long twos mixed in there, and Smith finished the night shooting 6-11 in the paint, but just 1-12 outside of it.
Drew can make veiled references to Smith’s shot selection through the media all he wants, but the fact is he’s allowed Smith to play this way going on three seasons. Whether Drew’s offense is the issue or whether he simply hasn’t been able to get Smith to attack the basket the way he should, plenty of the blame for Smith’s shot selection rests firmly on the coach’s shoulders.
CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.
Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.
James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.
Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.
Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.
After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.
“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”
Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.
Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.
This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.
One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.
LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.
Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.
That lasted about a minute.
LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.
For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.
The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.
With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.
I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.
That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.