Let's hope the only mistakes made Wednesday happened on the floor.
Late-game execution continued to fail … on both ends. How Joe Johnson (6'7) had Bobby Jackson (6'1) pinned so deep in the lane is a product of being forced into smallball due to Spencer Hawes' six fouls. But when help doesn't arrive until J.J. makes his move, that's a player breakdown. Johnson easily spun left to give Atlanta a lead it would not relinquish.
On the offensive end, Kevin Martin's near-turnover came on an odd, bad play. Beno Udrih's turnover was simply awful. Jason Thompson made a bad decision on the spin move in which Mike Bibby drew a charge — there was no reason to move toward the lane as that's where the help would be coming from, and the baseline was WIDE OPEN. Thompson loves the spin move a little too much.
But despite the predictable meltdown, this game was full of positives.
* The spurt to end the second quarter was simply marvelous. Martin controlled the ball and poured in the points. The defense stayed active, challenging the Hawks on every attempt. Encouraging, encouraging work.
* Martin played defense better than he has in years. I counted Johnson blowing by Martin once … which is amazing, considering how skilled/smart a player J.J. is. The 11 rebounds don't hurt the cause, either.
* Beno does not rotate well. I know you know that, but it needs to be noted for posterity.
* Donte Greene's defense looked surprisingly solid (for once). He showed a touch of patience on offense, too. Just a touch. He reminds me of the 2004 version of Quentin Richardson: run to the elbow, catch the ball, shoot the ball. I hope for much, much more from D.G., but there are worse things than gunners who can get their shot off against any defender in the league. Keep Greene working on his stroke, teach him how to run off back screens, and replicate Peja.
* Thompson nor Josh Smith had good box scores, but those dudes battled. Hard. Nice duel.
* Hawes played magnificent. I would say that even if he didn't hit a left-handed hook and a Duncan bank shot. Fourteen rebounds will always get you a gold star.
* Garcia is the streakiest defensive player on the team. Like Brad Miller, he's a real product of confidence. When the shots fall, everything improves. He'd be a more valuable player if he could get those sneaky steals and playboy blocks during stretches where he is missing shots, as well.
* Al Horford is an absolute beast. That guy will be a star until he's 39 or 40. He's like a better Joe Smith … already.