The Hawks set a new NBA playoff record for getting blown out in a sweep...not to mention an unofficial record for most sad bench photos.The Atlanta Hawks:
Look, I hate to say I told you so -- oh, who am I kidding...I love saying I told you so! -- but the Atlanta-Orlando series proved beyond a shadow of a doubt what I've been saying since the preseason. Specifically, that the Hawks were, at best, a second tier team.
There's no particular shame in that. And, frankly, it should have been obvious looking at the roster. Their captain and best player is a volume shooter who relies on a steady diet of isolation plays...and that's what their offense is based on. Well, that and running, when they can. That never quite happened against the Magic. In the "Broom Game," Atlanta managed only 6 fast break points.
And as for their All-Star/All-NBA team leader, Joe Johnson, he saved his worst for last. Joe averaged 13.4 points a game on 32 percent shooting over his last seven playoff games. Facing almost certain elimination, Johnson went out and scored only 14 points on 5-for-15 shooting. He also bricked a couple free throws and went 1-for-6 from downtown. In fact, his last shot attempt -- maybe his last ever as a member of the Hawks -- was an air ball from 25 feet out as the shot clock was about to expire.
Not what you'd call a storybook ending. It was more like one of those M.Night Shyamalan movies with the twist ending that leaves you feeling confused, disappointed and full of self-hate.
If Johnson does flee Atlanta this summer, the fans might not be all that upset about it (well, until the team falls into complete ruin next season, anyway). As the AP recap
put it: "[Johnson] was booed by the home crowd at the start of the game and got the same treatment when he went to the bench with 3:51 to play. The fans were still miffed that he said didn't care if they 'showed up or not' after they heckled the team in a 30-point loss on Saturday."
I know this will shock and astound you, but Joe doesn't give a shit: "It doesn't bother me, man. I've got thick skin. I've been booed louder than that."
As for the Hawks, the were -18% in 3P%, -15% in FGP, -10 in assists, -7 in rebounds and of course -14 in total points. Speaking of margins of defeat, the Hawks conspired to help the Magic set a new playoff record for playoff asskicking: Orlando had the largest margin of victory in any four-game sweep in NBA postseason history (+25.3 PPG).
Reality check: The Magic and Hawks finished second and third in the Eastern Conference...but the Dirty Birds suffered the most bawful four-game pimp slap in league history. Think about that. Let it soak in. Now read this mea culpa from Scoop Jackson
Dear Atlanta Hawks,
That's the only word that feels appropriate. That's the only word ESPN will let me use without violating the language code set in place for moments just like this.
Thanks for making me look like an idiot for publicly picking you to win the East.
Yes, I said "publicly" and yes I did that. Back In January, I went out of my way to tell anyone that wanted to listen that I believed the team from the ATL was going to be the last one standing in the NBA East when it was all said and done.
Over Boston, over Cleveland, over the Orlando Magic.
Now I look like the last comic standing...without any jokes.
This is worse than when I was fooled into picking the New Jersey Nets in 2005 to win the whole thing. Now I know how Rod Blagojevich and Steve Bartman must feel everyday.
So Hawks, my squad, thanks for making me look more of a damn fool.
From here on out, I don't need your help. I can do that all by myself.
Thanks for nothing.
Couldn't you almost hear the Journey music playing while you were reading that?Joe Johnson:
See above. And for the hell of it, here are 10 reasons Joe Cool isn't a superstar
. For my money, there's just one reason, and it's called "This series."
Okay, okay. One more dis for "iso-Joe" from Basketbawful reader and Suns fan Clifton
: "Joe Johnson hasn't changed a bit since the Suns refused to give him all that dough he wanted. Just like getting rid of Marion, it's taken a little while for it to bear fruit, but boyyyyyyyy does that ever look like a good move now. People seemed surprised at his bitter comments about the Atlanta fans after Game 3, but we heard pretty much the same song here in PHX that summer when he was lobbying for his new deal. And, sure enough, as the money nears its end, Joe shows his true colors once again."Josh Smith:
If the NBA gave out MVP awards for teams that just got swept, Smith would probably receive one for this series. But...according to the game notes in the AP recap: "Smith, who ranked third in the NBA with 2.14 blocks a game during the regular season, had only two blocks in the entire series against the Magic."
I'm just sayin'.Mike Bibby:
11 minutes, 4 points, 2 assists. Let me put it this way, if I was out to eat and my steak came out this done, I'd send it back to the kitchen and then leave the restaurant and never come back. Unless it was to burn the place down.Mike Bibby watches the slow, shuddering death of his career...from the lonely comfort of the Atlanta bench.Mike Brown:
Basketbawful reader Will
pretty much said it all: "There's no way on God's green Earth that Mike Woodson can come back next year. Rashard just hit a three to put Orlando up 21 and the camera cuts to him looking like a cigar store Indian. I wasn't sure if he had a pulse. The Hawks need someone who knows about that orange sphere called a basketball."Stan Van Gundy, quote machine:
"If we're better than you, we're going to win most of the time."Vince Carter, quote machine:
"Guys are just focused. It's unbelievable to see. This is my opportunity for a championship."
Don't worry, everybody. I don't think Vag Carter will be joining the "Antoine Walker Memorial Team of Players Who Didn't Deserve to Win a Title But Did Anyway." The Magic are getting a lot of buzz for sweeping through the first two rounds, but let's be honest: They had two very favorable matchups. I think they're going to get a wakeup call in the next round. And even if they do reach the Finals, I can't see their outside game beating the Lakers' inside game.Another sad bench photo. And you know what that means...The Utah Jazz:
After dismantling the Denver Nuggets in the first round, the Jazz were feeling pretty good about themselves. Deron Williams dubbed himself the best point guard alive and the Mormon Musicians felt they had a very real chance to upset the Lakers. And hey, they could have stolen a game in L.A., and the third was certainly up for grabs. But once the buzzer sounded after that Game 3 loss, you could just tell Utah was finished.
"We just can't beat these guys" might as well have been written on their foreheads in magic marker. Okay, that sentence would probably only fit on Carlos Boozer's giant forehead, but still. I read somewhere that Utah's practice the day before Game 4 felt like a funeral, meaning the Jazz had lost this one before it ever began.
They're called "motions," and the Jazz were going through them.
The Lakers built a 22-point lead in the first half. Utah went on one of those "Hey, let's not totally humiliate ourselves, guys" runs in the third quarter before slowly and rather quietly succumbing to the inevitable 111-96 loss.
The only Jazz starter who finished with a positive plus-minus score was Kyrylo Fesenko (+9). The rest of them were a combined -56. What does that tell you?
Said Williams: "We're a playoff team and they're a championship team. They're just better than we are. ... We all were discouraged. It was kinda deja vu. It's always hard to get down 10, 12 points against this team and try and come back."
Doesn't this kind of remind you of how the Suns used to regard the Spurs? A handful of solid efforts that came up short followed by a depressed and discouraging playoff elimination. Speaking of discouragement, the Jazz seemed became increasingly intimidated by L.A.'s size as the series progressed. By Game 4, all it took was a handful of early blocked shots by the Lakers' bigs to scare Utah out of the paint for what seemed like the rest of the game.
Oh well. Like Lance Armstrong said
in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
: "Well, I guess if a person never quit when the going got tough, they wouldn't have anything to regret for the rest of their life."Carlos Boozer:
This very well might have been Boozer's final game with the Jazz...and it was the kind he'd probably rather forget, no matter how many illegal chemicals and household cleaning agents are required to induce memory loss. Carlos finished with 10 points on 4-for-11 shooting and committed a co-game-high (with Williams) 4 turnovers (the Lakers had six as a team) before fouling out of the game with 3:31 left.
What's worse, his power forward counterpart, Pau Gasol, erupted like a volcano set off by some evil genuis's giant underground drill: 33 points (12-for-18 FGs, 9-for-11 FTs), 14 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocked shots. And that wasn't an aberration. Gasol made Boozer look tiny all series long. Not only that, he was regularly outplayed by his backup over these final four games. In Game 4, Paul Milsap scored a co-team-high 21 points (8-for-14) off the bench. Of course, Milsap also had a game-worst plus-minus score of -29. So maybe that's a bad comparison.
As for the future, Carlos doesn't want to talk about it right now: "I'll figure it out later. It's too soon for all that talk. Right now we're disappointed that we lost and our season is over. All the free agent talk, we'll talk about it in July."Deron William:
From Basketbawful reader phelan
: "So Lakers advance with a sweet of the Mormom Musicians. Granted, it's the Lakers and everybody knew LA was going to go on, but still, D-Will needs to get into the WotN somehow just for dooming...no, STARBURYING his team when he said he's the best point guard in the league. It's like a stat curse...without needing any stats!"
Indeed, Deron followed in Stephon Marbury's footsteps from Starbury's last trip to the playoffs as a starting point guard: A four-game sweep
...although Marbury was broomed by the New Jersey Nyets, which is a little worse. It was after this head-to-head postseason loss to Kidd that Marbury proclaimed his best-point-guard-in-the-NBA-ness
.Following in Starbury's footsteps is never, evera good thing, as this facepalm proves.Getty Images:
I can say with complete sincerity that my life would have been much more complete without ever seeing a picture of Adam Morrison in his underwear. Thanks for the nightmare fuel, Getty Images. Next time, please send a rusty utensil capable of ripping my eyes from their respective sockets.Things we dismiss as "coincidence":
From Basketbawful reader Mike T:
I have always maintained that the J.A. in J.A. Adande stands for "Jack Ass." I must have been really bored at work to even read his Lakers propaganda, but I'm glad I did because I came across this:
"Pau Gasol had 17 rebounds. Artest made 4 of 7 3-pointers. It kept the Lakers right in the game and allowed Bryant and Fisher to go all 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom' on the Jazz with two killer 3s in the final minute."
He even included a link to the YouTube video of Mola Ram.
I'm amazed that Adande reads Basketbawful (I didn't think he had good taste), but I'm not surprised at all that he stole this from your May 3rd description of Kobe's treatment of Utah.
For the record, here was what I wrote:
As a long-time Jazz fan, I'm not sure how much I have to say about this one. It was like watching a rerun of a television show you hate. Utah fell behind early, the Lakers' bench let them back in, and then Mamba went all Mola Ram on the Jazz.
Like Adande, I provided a YouTube video of Mola Ram ripping out a heart. But I'm sure it's just a crazy random happenstance.Lacktion report:
About the only "good" thing that came out of the Lakers-Jazz game was some lacktion for chris
to report on:
Lakers-Jazz: Josh Powell produced a pair of fouls and bricks each in 3:32 for a +4 suck differential that also garnered a 2:0 Voskuhl.
For the Mormon musicians, Kosta Koufos and Othyus Jeffers finished up their concertos with a coda lasting 99 seconds -- Koufos hitting a high note worth 1.65 trillion, and Jeffers bricking once for a +1.
Labels: Atlanta Hawks, Carlos Boozer, Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers, Mike Bibby, Orlando Magic, Stephon Marbury, Utah Jazz