Horford on the spot, and on the money

The Hawks were not at their best defensively nor were they particularly stout on the boards Sunday, yet their offense was yet again efficient Sunday and Al Horford paced them all.

Eh, nothing new.

He made 8-of-9 shots on an evening when the home team banked 45-of-80 (56.3 percent), and Horford’s been doing this for a while.

Over the past seven games, he’s made 73.6 percent of his shots (53-of-72). Throw in a perfect 3-of-3 game from the free throw line, where he’s made 19-of-22 (86.4 percent) in that span, and prepare for understatement.

“I’m taking good shots within the offense,” he said. “I have a good rhythm right now.”

Not all shots are of the supremely high-percentage variety indigenous to big men.

Horford had two dunks and a layup against the Timberwolves, and found space to mix in jumpers of 19, 21, 17 and 19 feet with a runner from five feet as well.

That’s nothing new, either.

Horford’s making 51.1 percent of his shots from 15-19 feet, and 48.8 percent from 20 feet to the 3-point arc.

Basketheads call him a pick-and-pop guy.

“He’s really good about getting to the right spot. He’s a great screen setter. The guy who sets a great screen often times gets open,” coach Mike Budenholzer said after Horford set screens, and then rolled open to take passes from Jeff Teague for his final two jumpers, in the fourth quarter.

“Al sets great screens; he sets great screens in pick-and-rolls … he separates and gets to the right spot.”

There’s plenty to be said for getting to the right place, and a passer find it.

“He’s almost automatic from that spot,” Teague said. “He’s always been good at that. He’s been good at that since Mike Bibby was playing. Growing up under Mike, I figured out how to get him the ball in the right spot.”

Budenholzer said the fact that Horford has been taking the ball at the basket has opened up his jump-shooting game more. Defenders struggle to decide whether to switch off Horford when he sets a screen and take the ball, or trail him.

That often leaves an opening for the driver, or Horford – who finds those spots.

It might not be right to say that Horford “drifts” to these marks. A refined instinct usually leads him to an open spot.

His streak began on the night he registered his first career double with 21 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high 10 assists Jan. 13 in a win in Philadelphia.

So he started by making so many passes, and has averaged 18 points on 10.3 shots attempts over the seven games while getting in position to take passes.

Horford has scored 126 points on 72 field goal tries in that span – an average of 1.75 points per shot attempted.

Houston’s James Harden is leads the NBA in scoring at 27.3 points per game on 18.3 field goal attempts – an average of 1.49 points per shot attempt.

Now, that is efficiency.

“Jeff is great. It’s hard with a guy like me; I move around so much,” Horford said. “He just seems to be able to find me every time. Sometimes, I’ll roll to the basket and sometimes I’ll pop [out]. We just have good chemistry.

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