Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hawks 111, Grizzlies 96 Post-Game Three-Pointer

Posted By on Wed, Oct 14, 2009 at 10:41 PM

This was a pretty blah game and I have a cold, so I'm going to make this one reasonably brief:

1. Turnovers Bite Again: Turnovers have been a big story throughout preseason and turnover differential was a key to tonight's last, as the Grizzlies turned the ball over 22 times to the Hawks' 14. I haven't gone back over the play chart, but my memory and game notes suggest two types of turnovers were most frequent tonight. There were a lot of lost-ball turnovers from dribbling in traffic. This problem will hopefully be alleviated in the regular season by certain players getting fewer minutes (I'm looking at you Mike Taylor) and others getting sharper (ditto O.J. Mayo). The other were bad pass turnovers, particularly in the halfcourt, particularly on forced entry feeds. The Grizzlies were the worst assist team in the league, by far, last season. They are trying to correct that, at least in spots, this preseason, but just aren't very good at passing the ball right now.

2. Randolph & Gasol — The Good and Bad: The Grizzlies frontcourt players haven't been very involved in the offense so far this preseason, but that changed tonight, especially early on, when the offense ran through the post on most possessions. Starting frontcourt duo Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol had a pretty significant size advantage over their Hawks opposites (Josh Smith and Al Horford, respectively) and took advantage, scoring a combined 31 points on 12-18 shooting and grabbing 14 rebounds in 54 minutes. On the other end, however, Smith and Horford took advantage of their quickness edge to get to the rim for easy baskets, particularly in the first quarter.

Randolph had some bad moments — lackluster defense against the unknown Courtney Sims in one rough stretch — but generally had a promising game. I really like his activity on the boards. Randolph had four offensive rebounds, and that number doesn't reflect the loose balls on the offensive end he corralled. And, in most of those cases, he turned those opportunities into putback buckets.

3. Rudy's Rough Night: While Rudy Gay was scoring 13 points on 4-12 shooting in a team-high 32 minutes, Hawks' sixth man Maurice Evans was lighting him up to the tune of 27 points on 8-10 shooting. It was a bad night on both ends, and one made worse in the second half by some of the bad body language Gay displayed late in the Iavaroni tenure. With a hustling, high-hoops-IQ rookie now pushing him in DeMarre Carroll, Gay needs to respond by upping his own effort and activity.

The Jacob Riis Report: Hawks rookie Jeff Teague was much smaller than I'd thought from watching him at Wake Forrest, and he struggled to finish at the rim in the first half, but came on strong and put up a good line: 13 points and 4 assists in 23 minutes. He's explosive and looks promising, though may struggle to find minutes initially with veterans Mike Bibby, Joe Johnson, Jamal Crawford, and Maurice Evans all in the rotation.

Deflections:

Mike Taylor got a long, 20-minute audition for a roster spot tonight and did not acquit himself well. Taylor can apply pressure defensively, but struggles against it offensively, and is neither a shooter nor a playmaker.

DeMarre Carroll looks like a more skilled Bo Outlaw out there. He filled up the stat sheet again (12 points, 4 boards, 3 assists, 2 steals) in 23 high-energy minutes marked by hustle plays and nifty passes (including a no-look on the break to set up a Darrell Arthur dunk).

A recovering Antonio Burks made a FedExForum appearance tonight. He was sitting with Griz GM Chris Wallace at the top of the lower bowl as I was leaving.

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