Bucks-Hawks: Bogut vs. Horford

I’ve griped plenty about the All-Star snub the East coaches handed Andrew Bogut this year even as they promoted Al Horford, the Hawks young center whom Bogut has never failed to dominate.

Unfortunately, Bogut and Horford haven’t played since March 26, 2008 in Atlanta.  That Bucks team was floundering and not bothering to show up on the road (this was the game then-coach Larry Krystkowiak benched Michael Redd) — but Bogut was one Buck who showed up against the Hawks, scoring 27 pts and grabbing 9 boards in the loss.  

It was Horford’s rookie season and the Hawks alternated him on Bogut with former Buck Zaza Pachulia, who at 6’11 – 240 is bigger and stronger than the 6’10” Horford. Foul trouble, Horford’s inexperience and the presence of Zaza saw the Hawks shy away from the Bogut-Horford matchup.

Horford’s 2007-08 avg. line against Bogut and the Bucks was hardly impressive for the 26 mins he logged: 8.3 pts, 5.5 rebs, 1 block and 3.5 fouls.

Bogut’s 2007-08 avg. line vs. Horford and Pachulia was All-Star stuff: 21.8 pts, 10 rebs, 3.3 blks and 2.8 fouls in about 37 mins, plus 1.8 assists. In the November game in Milwaukee Bogut even managed 3 steals in the Bucks win. The Bucks split 2-2 with the Hawks on the season, winning both games in Milwaukee

The lone game Bogut played vs. the Hawks last season was the very last-ditch effort by AB to continue playing through his  pain-in-the-lower-back of a season. Horford didn’t play and Bogut overpowered the smaller Hawks for 9 pts and 6 boards in only 16 mins.

Although we’ve only had a few looks, it hasn’t really ever been a matchup of centers like Bogut vs. Howard or Dalembert, which made Horford’s All-Star selection this season all the more puzzling.

Bucks and Hawks are at half with the Bucks up 46-44. Though Bogut has just 4 pts he is winning the war. The Hawks did a lot of damage during Bogut’s first blow and he leads everybody on the glass with 6 boards. He’s also snuffed 2 shots and dished out 3 assists as the Hawks have brought the double team.  No fouls for Bogut yet in 17+ mins and that’s big going into the second half.

Horford has 4 pts, 4 rebs, no blocks in 15+ mins and has two fouls. This is the guy that East coaches voted to the All-Star team as a reserve? I don’t see how. Maybe he has strong games against New Jersey?

There must be some mistake: Looking at Horford’s game logs this season, the “New Jersey theory” seems to be exactly what happened. All four of his 20+ scoring games vs. the East were against the Pacers and Knicks …. until he had 23-point game vs. the Bobcats on Jan. 22 that just may have secured Charlotte coach Larry Brown’s vote a few days before the coach ballots were due.

Horford followed the strong game against the Cats with 4 pts, 4 rebs and 3 fouls in 28 mins a week later against Howard and the Magic. 

And yes, Horford did have a solid 16 pt game in a win over the Nets early in the season. 

Watching this Bucks-Hawks game tonight, the inescapable conclusion is that the vote for the final reserve spot in the East must have been scattered among 4 or 5 players or even as many as six, making it possible for Horford to get into the game ahead of teammate Josh Smith, Bogut and the Knicks David Lee with as few as three or four coach votes.

It was just a dumb fluke.

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