WIZARDS 87 HAWKS 91 Woody called Marvin’s performance Wednesday a “man’s night.” Indeed it was. Williams did it from all angles, driving to the bucket, shooting it from the perimeter and owning the glass. So much of that talent that made scouts drool when Williams entered the NBA draft resurfaced in a game the Hawks had to have. Williams (along with unexpected battery mate Zaza Pachulia) provided the much needed energy the entire team was lacking in its four straight losses. In the end he was rewarded, draining a corner three that put the Hawks up for good.
Simply put, the former North Carolina product stepped up and played like a #2 pick in the draft. Being surrounded by talented players can at times have a negative impact on a young player. With Williams, it could be argued that a sense of complacency set in. He was never asked to take over games. Instead he was an above average “complementary” player who would chip in 15-16 points, grab 5 or 6 rebounds and call it a night.
For all the love I have for Joe Johnson, his competitiveness can at times drive him to do too much, causing him to forget about his more than capable role players (more on this below). With Johnson’s shooting struggles, however, and the injuries to Smith and Horford, complacency no longer was an option for Williams against the Wizards. It will take more nights like Wednesday for the Hawks to weather the current storm. And at some point, the fatigue of guarding bigger, tougher interior post players will set in (Williams guarded Rasho in Indiana and Jamison against the Wizards). By the looks of Wednesday night though, Williams appears up for the challenge.
GOOD JOE, BAD JOE: I’m going to preface everything I’m about to write with the following – Joe Johnson is the undisputed leader of the Hawks and he is by far the team’s most talented player. He is a top 5 shooting guard in the league, and if it weren’t for his quiet persona, perhaps the national audience would take notice. With that said, every player has a weakness, and Joe’s might be his overriding competitiveness. It’s hard to categorize a player’s competitiveness as a weakness, but for Johnson, his fierce drive to win has the ability to control his demeanor and disrupt his on-court rapport with his teammates.
With the Hawks losing streak picking up steam, it was clear Johnson was pressing against the Wizards (he hoisted 22 shots) and was growing increasingly frustrated with his teammates. On occasion he would try to get his shot off on isolation with over fifteen second left on the shot clock. Sometimes he would force passes after dribbling into trouble. Most notably, however, was his failure to make the extra pass. Joe has yet to fully trust his teammates (although he’s getting there – who made that pass to Marvin in the corner vs. the Celtics with 10.5 remaining?). For these Hawks to flourish, Joe will need to accept the double teams and believe that his open teammates – namely Bibby and Williams – can hit the open jumpers.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Eddie is as mad as a bee buzzing in a hive.” – Washington Wizards broadcaster Steve Buckhantz, after Wizards head coach Eddie Jordan was incensed by a non-call under the basket.