It was still anybody’s game — Atlanta led by 5 with 3:10 left when Josh Smith took a three against the Pacers Monday night and you could hear the entire Phillips Arena do the same thing:
Smith made that shot and that’s what he’ll remember. So he’ll shoot it again and again. And miss the vast majority of them.
After the game Al Horford admitted that the Hawks players shake their heads at Smith’s shot selection sometimes, as reported by Sekou Smith of NBA.com.
“This was definitely one of those ‘ooh, aah’ moments with Josh,” Al Horford said. “He gives you those ‘oohs’ and then those ‘aahs.’ It’s kind of a ‘Yes’ and then ‘No’ thing going on. That’s the way it is. I think [the fans] obviously want Josh to be successful. Everybody loves him here. Sometimes we do question his shot selection. But tonight he hit some big shots down the stretch, made some huge plays for other guys down the stretch and made plays to help us win this game. I know it might drive some people a little crazy. But it works for us and that’s just the way it is.”
It works for them sometimes.
The numbers paint a very clear picture: inside 8 feet this season Smith shot 62.2 percent; from 8 to 16 feet out he hit 23.3 percent; from 16 to 24 feet 32.4 percent. He shot 72 percent at the basket in the restricted area this season and not better than 32 percent in any area outside it. He shot 30.3 percent from three this season but still took 2.6 shots per game from there, a career high.
Smith doesn’t play to his own strengths and it’s frustrating. But the he puts together a string of play like he did at the end of the Hawks win over the Pacers Monday night and you are reminded there are not many players like him out there — 6’9” with athletic gifts that let him run the floor, good court vision and the ability to make plays. He had 29 points and was key to the Hawks tying the series.
But if he wants to take threes, the Pacers will let him do that all night long in Game 5.