Early in the day, the NBA instituted a new rule against committing intentional fouls at the free throw line.
Throughout the season, players have been intentionally jumping onto the back of the opponents worst free throw shooter in an attempt to stage a comeback without allowing time to tick off of the clock.
Now, if a player commits an intentional foul while boxing out at the free throw line, a flagrant foul will be called.
While the issue often is directed at centers, as many are poor free throw shooters, the same strategy has never targeted Hawks center Al Horford.
The 29-year-old has drastically worked to improve his free throw shooting, increasing his average from 64.4 percent from four years ago to 77.3 percent this season, ninth best among all centers in the league.
Atlanta has much bigger problems to deal with than free throw shooting to deal with, such as rebounding the basketball.
“First thing that comes to mind is rebounding. If we can get rebounds, then we can get out and run,” Atlanta forward Paul Millsap said. “(Coach Mike Budenholzer) has said everything under the sun. I don’t think there is anything he can say, it’s something we’ve got to do as players.”
Friday against Indiana, the Hawks escaped with a 102-96 victory over despite being out rebounded 19-3 on the offensive end of the floor.
The team may have surrendered numerous second chance points, but the play of Horford proved to be the difference.
Horford played a team-high 34 minutes, producing 21 points, seven rebounds, six assists and a steal. He even connected on his 51st shot from 3-point range on the season — after combining to make 21 shots from beyond the arc during his first ninth years in the league — and all four of his free throws.
For the year, he is averaging 15.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and is shooting over 50 percent from the field for the eight consecutive year. Despite his efforts, Atlanta ranks 29th in the league in rebounds at 40.8 per game.
Only Washington is pulling down fewer rebounds than the Hawks each night, but still have managed to post the third best record in the Eastern Conference at 30-22.
Prior to Sunday’s game in Orlando, Shatter the Glass spoke with Horford about rebounding the basketball, the rule changes instituted by the NBA today and much more.
In the last game, you were out-rebounded on the offensive end 19-3, how was your team able to overcome that disadvantage and get the win?
(Laughs), Yeah, we might need to do a better job boxing out and start getting those rebounds. We just really need to do a better job on the boards.
How has coach Mike Budenholzer tried to get that message across to you, to crash the boards?
He gets it across, our guys, we are trying. At least we were able to get the win last game. We definitely need to learn from that.
How is your feel of this team compared to last season?
It’s a different team, there’ no question about it, it feels different. But that’s the challenge of the NBA, you have to reinvent yourself and figure things out.
The All-Star break is coming up, this year you aren’t participating, what are your plans for the time away from the court?
Just laying low, hanging out with the family. Mainly getting some rest that I feel like I need.
What are your thoughts on the new rule about intentional fouls committed at the free throw line?
I mean, it’s part of the game. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of rule comes up from that.
Did you think it was a necessity to make an adjustment on intentional fouls during free throw situations?
I mean, I don’t think so. I just think it’s good strategy. I think in all sports, like in baseball, you can walk a player, different things like that. I feel like it’s a strategy coaches use to take advantage of them.
I don’t think it’s an issue. I don’t, but if the league feels they need to change it, they will change it.