It was one moment in a lost Game 2, but it was what we Atlantans have come to regard as a Josh Smith Moment. The Hawks had taken a rebound and pushed the ball, which came to Smith in the left corner. With 21 seconds remaining on the shot clock, he hoisted a 3-pointer. Yes, he was open. The Hawks' swift transition had left the Bulls scattered. But no, it wasn't a good shot. Even had it fallen - and it didn't - it was a lousy shot. Watching, the only response was: "What are you doing?" A stipulation: I like Josh Smith a lot. He's among my favorite contemporary Atlanta athletes, and there was a time when I'd have said he was my absolute fave. But I have no idea what he's doing anymore. To say he's killing the Hawks would be inaccurate. They won Round 1 and are level in Round 2. But they've done it while their most talented player has, over the past three games, missed 29 of 39 shots. A few of those misses have come on good shots. Most have not. After his 13-points-on-14-shots performance in Game 2, I asked Smith to describe his night. "Defensively it was pretty solid," he said. "I struggled offensively." I'm not sure "struggle" is the right word. That implies a concentration of effort. Smith appeared in Game 2 as he often does - distracted and disgusted. He did his customary railing at the refs. He seemed to run hard only on occasion. He did so little for so long you wondered why he was on the floor. But then he showed you. With the Bulls leading by 13 midway through the third quarter, Carlos Boozer rolled underneath for a layup. Smith blocked it and ran the floor - there was real running involved this time - and dunked at the other end. It was his first basket. He would score three more: Another dunk, a driving layup and a stickback. And now you were asking, not for the first time or even the hundredth: How good would Josh Smith be if he never took a shot beyond the lane? If he could content himself with being, say, Paul Silas? (Who was a great player on championship teams, let's recall.) Put another way, has there ever been a less effective jump shooter who persists in taking jump shots? Granted, he'll make a few. He made a big one near the end of Game 1. But a Smith make often hurts the Hawks more than a Smith miss because it impels him to keep shooting.
A significant Hawks question: What is Josh Smith doing?
Atlanta Journal-Constitution | May 5