At one end of the locker room, Hawks All-Star guard Joe Johnson talked about essentially ditching coach Larry Drew's share-the-ball philosophy for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference playoffs Sunday. "Honestly, I just got to force the issue," Johnson said after he scored 10 points during the Hawks' 99-82 loss to the Bulls on Friday. "I am not going to succumb to the double team and give it up every time - because that's what they want. We are playing right into their hands. I blame myself for that." Teammate Jamal Crawford, also the target of Bulls double teams, stood at the opposite end of the locker room and said he's willing to pass if it helps the Hawks score. "They're kind of taking it out of my hands," he said. "That's fine. I just want to make sure that we make them pay because we have an advantage somewhere out there with two guys on me." The divergent views of the Hawks' two main scorers illustrate the uneven response to Chicago's defensive pressure. Johnson and Crawford combined to score 56 points in Game 1, 27 in Game 2 and 17 in Game 3. Drew might have to convince Johnson it's not a good idea to try to score on his own against the Bulls, who lead the series 2-1. Johnson wasn't in the Hawks' locker room when it was opened to media Saturday, but based on Johnson's comments after Game 3, Drew could have a hard sell. "We didn't do anything, I thought, to get our scorers the basketball to make plays," Johnson said. "They come with the double team, and they make us give it up. We can't win like that." Johnson's efficiency on isolation plays has declined with each game of the series, according to statistics complied by Synergy Sports Technology. Drew said Johnson hasn't responded well to Chicago's aggressive physical defense, which he likened to the treatment faced by other star players.
Bulls have shut down Hawks guards Johnson, Crawford
Atlanta Journal-Constitution | May 8