Legitimize your rise Hawks!

HAWKSVILLE - The Hawks are running out of chances to show everyone and to prove to everyone that they are the team they think they are, the team we thought they were a couple weeks ago.

It's show and prove time for the Hawks against Kobe and the Lakers!

It's show and prove time for Joe Johnson and the Hawks with Kobe Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers in town.

Three losses in their last four games, all three to teams among the NBA’s elite, have stirred up the doubters. And rightfully so.

So what can the Hawks do to legitimize their rise?

Just beat the Los Angeles Lakers today.

That’s all.

Just knock off arguably the best team in the league with the best player on the planet (according to most folks that would be one Kobe B. Bryant, though the LeBron James camp has a convincing argument for their guy these days).

In losses in Cleveland and to San Antonio and Boston in the last week, all the Hawks did was prove their doubters right about their inability to rise up to the challenge of facing the league’s best.

They were running on fumes minutes into the game in Cleveland last weekend. And they haven’t played their best since then, not even in a win over Minnesota Monday night and certainly not in the momentary spurts of quality play against the Tim Duncan-less Spurs and Kevin Garnett-less Celtics.

So what happened to the team with all that swagger we saw during that seven-game homestand?

“We’ve got to get that back,” said Hawks swingman Mo Evans. “Because if a team with Kobe on it smells any fear or lack of confidence, Kobe’s going to pounce. He won’t hesitate to take the game over anyway. But for a team that’s trying to stomp with the big boys, he’ll take that as a challenge and try and destroy ‘em”

Evans knows that as well as anyone. He played with the Lakers and saw Bryant’s drive first hand. He also started on an Orlando team last year that made the difficult climb from postseason dreamer to legitimate elite team.

That gives him a unique perspective on the Hawks’ current predicament.

Evans knows it takes a collective mettle that the Hawks have yet to display consistently to join the big boys, having played with a little bit of everyone during his time in the league.

Mo Evans knows it takes toughness to play with the big boys.

Mo Evans knows it takes toughness to play with the big boys.

There have been spurts, and nobody can argue with a winning season after a decade of ugliness, but never enough of it on a daily basis to warrant their inclusion into the conversation about the league’s very best teams (and yes, a 3-12 record against the top three teams in the Eastern and Western Conference qualifies as the empirical data needed to prove that point).

Mike Bibby insists that Friday’s game against the Celtics wasn’t a statement game or anything of the sort, because the Hawks want to “win every game.” His reasoning: “We’re are still in the fourth spot and we can’t hang our heads. We just need to keep playing and try to keep the fourth spot.”

That’s exactly why these games against the Cavaliers, Celtics and Lakers are “statement” or “message” games. You win those games and you lock up the fourth spot and legitimize your rise all in the same stroke.

UNDER THE LIGHTS

For those of you that just can’t get enough for these Hawks, there’s an interesting show airing tonight on Fox SportSouth at 6:30, after the Hawks-Lakers game.

It’s a 30-minute snapshot of a NBA life called Under the Lights-Hawks Road Trip. There’s footage that is well worth watching (I know, I saw an advance copy Friday afternoon courtesy of the fine folks – namely Kate Hart – at Fox).

The cameras had access to some things I never get to see in person, like breakfast meetings on the road trip and locker room access at halftime and pregame, long after they jettison those of us in the media.

I spoke Saturday with Keith Wetzler, the producer of original programming for Fox (and also the man who produced that special on Joe Johnson, Dominique Wilkins‘ Hall of Fame induction show and those very helpful A-Town Dancers shows), and we talked about the delicate dance of trying to get behind the scenes without crossing the line.

“We were trying to take the fans into the places they’ve never been before,” Wetzler said. “Fans don’t get to see what goes on in the locker room, on the charter flights and in the breakfast meetings. We were a fly on the wall for the fans. The goal was two fold, take them into the places they’ve never seen before and show them personality they’ve never seen.”

Johnson showed off more of the personality we see from him at practice and in the locker room that is rarely on display during games (when most fans get their only glimpse of him). It’ll be surprising for some people to see him like that.

When I asked Wetzler if he was surprised at all by how comfortable the players were with the cameras constantly in their faces, he said he was not.

“I pretty much knew what to expect,” Wetzler said. “And it wasn’t a ‘get out of my face’ type deal. I explained to the [Hawks] what we were trying to do and they responded. We were there to show the entire experience and to bring the fans along for the ride.”

MS. KERI’S DEBUT

Before I depart for Philips and today’s game, I have to sell out for the First Lady of the Blog (for 2009) and give a rousing endorsement to Atlanta’s own Ms. Keri Hilson.

Her debut CD came out this week and It’s worth the purchase.

The First Lady's new CD is in stores!

The First Lady's debut CD is in stores!

I’m an 80s baby and child of the Hip-Hop era, but an unabashed lover of R&B music. And while others love to proclaim most anything new DOA, I happen to dig a lot of the new stuff.

If you drive around this town as much as I do, you’re always looking for something new to listen to (when you’re not on your cell phone like all the thousands of folks that make my back and forth a chore), you’re always on the lookout for something good to listen to.

You might want to check her out, so your next drive to a Hawks’ game is enhanced by her beautiful sounds.

206 comments Add your comment

Elijah

March 29th, 2009
11:27 am

rms

March 29th, 2009
11:51 am

Does this mean Speedy is playing or do he get to sport a new suit.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 29th, 2009
11:54 am

The Hawks absolutely have to feed Josh Smith and Al Horford the ball today. The Lakers’ biggest weakness right now is their interior defense, with no Andrew Bynum. Joe Johnson is going to have a tough time getting open shots with Kobe Bryant and Trevor Ariza alternately guarding him. Asking him to get shots in isolation every play is going to result in a predictable 30-something percent shooting night and another loss. Let Josh and Al attack Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom off the dribble and get them into foul trouble, and you can then turn the tables on the Lakers by making them a perimeter oriented team.

Sure, that could just mean Kobe Bryant goes off, but Gasol has been on fire offensively recently (62% shooting and 21 ppg in March) and allowing him to get going will make that team impossible to defend. Kobe is always going to be a player that you can only slow down, never stop, but with his ankle injury there’s always the chance that if you make him work hard for his points he won’t play with his usual efficiency.

Other than that, the Hawks have to make sure they box out and defend the 3 point line in this game. Easier said than done, but the Lakers’ success stems in large part because their role players knock down open 3’s in rhythm and their front court dominates the boards.

terrell barron

March 29th, 2009
11:54 am

Can you say 6 game losing streak? Hey Sekou, Hansborough? Please! I guess I’d be o.k. with Tyreke Evans or Johnny Flynn, but I’d rather have Patrick Mills. And is Mullens any better than Solo? WHY NOT JUST DEVELOP HIM? Oh, I forgot who the coach was. With that said, why draft a pg or a center when they’ll just ride the bench? I’m sorry man, but I just cant get excited about this years draft, knowing old stubborn ass will still be here. I just cant.

terrell barron

March 29th, 2009
11:59 am

Come on Najeh. None of that really matters. We’ll be overmatched and extremely outcoached today. It’ll take a miracle for us to pull this one out. This team wins all of their games at home, and MOST of their games on the road. Tough task today. Kobe Bryant is on a mission, while we’re already satified that we clinched a spot.

Blindog

March 29th, 2009
1:07 pm

Until the Hawks get a ligit point gaurd and cfnter they will never reach the next level.As much as I like Hansborough he is not what this team needs.Woodson has proven he can’t develop nor coach young talent. He has got to go!!

SWAT Native

March 29th, 2009
1:13 pm

This is a crazy two weeks. The Hawks will play every team that is a legitimate contender for the championship: Cavs, Spurs, Celtics, Lakers and then the Magic. I was sitting next to a couple at the Celtics game Friday night and the wife kept trying to tell me that the game didn’t matter because both teams had already made the playoffs. I kept trying to explain to her that they were still fighting for seeding and it was important for the Hawks to show these kinds of teams that they can’t just come in our gym and win, but she didn’t get it. Fortunately they left at halftime.

I finally found a ticket for today’s game. so I’ll be there. Sekou, any word on whether Kobe will play?

Joe's place Joe speaking

March 29th, 2009
1:54 pm

If the sorry a$$ sixers can beat the lakers at home then I say we definitely have a shot! But it takes confidence, something the hawks lack, so let’s just watch and see what team comes out today before we judge.

oh and Sekou where the he!! Is your picure up top ?? And why do you think the hawks can play so well on week and terrible the next?? Who’s to blame in your opinion??

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terrell barron

March 29th, 2009
2:03 pm

Damn, we could’ve used Ryan Hollins. He’s been buried on a few benches for years.

O'brien

March 29th, 2009
2:13 pm

When the Hawks won those 7 games at home, Woody was doing a good job of playing his bench (especially Acie and Mario). But since then, Acie has been hurt, and Mario hasnt got enough PT, and Solo gets no PT. The starters have been playing extended minutes against good defensive teams, and that is not a formula for success.

Joe Step Up!!!!

March 29th, 2009
2:22 pm

It’s your time Joe, Right Now. I want a Career High MJ Stle 55 Points. Straght Beast Mode on KB24. If ever you were going to legitimize being one of the best guards in the world, now is the time.

Ariose

March 29th, 2009
2:32 pm

TB, Thats Right.

SEKOU,What do you have against Patrick Mills? Did you see this guy own Deron Williams, CP3, and Kidd in the olypics? You didn’t see St.Marys Vs. Davison last week when he one-upped Stephen Curry with 26pts and 11 assists? Not to mentinon the “W”. Sekou……you slippin’….. ;-)

~Sir Links A Lot~

Ariose

March 29th, 2009
2:33 pm

Errors: Olypics and Davidson…heh…

Ariose

March 29th, 2009
2:36 pm

olympics….

Elijah

March 29th, 2009
2:38 pm

There’s no way in hell Woodson uses the bench today in such a high-profile game. If Solomon Jones and Mario get minutes as part of the regular rotation for more than 1 minute each, I will be shocked

Sekou K. Smith

March 29th, 2009
2:48 pm

I like Patty Mills just fine. He just didn’t make the list.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 29th, 2009
3:26 pm

Other than his weird shooting form, Mills is nice. I don’t think Maynor, Lawson or Flynn are realistic targets where the Hawks will draft, and on the 2nd tier of PGs Mills is probably the best.

But I’m still not a fan of targeting a point guard. I think the Hawks need a big body — even if it’s not a true center like Mullens — more than they need another young point. Acie Law will do just fine given playing time, and more importantly none of these PGs in the draft is such a sure thing that they will immediately come in and outperform Law. I’d love to see someone like Hansbrough or Patrick Patterson on the Hawks if they are the best big man available in the early 20s where the Hawks will pick.

Ariose

March 29th, 2009
3:27 pm

Sekou, So you don’t think he’s a good fit for the Hawks or he’s just not one of your top five Hawk prospects?

bigdave

March 29th, 2009
3:30 pm

maybe i missed it, but coach mentioned after the lost to the Celts that they would practice Sat. and some of the guys that were a bit, “nicked up” are going to have to tough it out,and give it a go…
does that mean Acie is available…?

Blast

March 29th, 2009
3:35 pm

This will be a tough game for the Hawks, and since they’ve been losing to all the good teams coming to town so far, I expect them to lose to LA. Unless, as Sekou said, they come out with pride. Show the league you can beat the elite teams. Hawks win this game, they make up a little for the recent loses. They lose this game, and they just confirmed that they are nothing else but a 2nd-Tier team.

No question. The bigs have to be fed toniight. Constantly. Hawks cannot pound the ball. One play early quarter last game, Joe drew a triple team. Horford was open for one brief second. All Joe had to do was toss him the ball, And AL would have had a dunk. Joe held the ball, AL was cut off, when Joe finally passed the ball to AL, he was forced to take a quick jumper wheich he missed. Joe has to trust hie teammates. He cannot win ball games himself.

No slow start. Too much of that lately.

Bibby must play great.

Ho Hawks, show me something!

Big Ray

March 29th, 2009
3:37 pm

Samuel,

In the last blog, I meant to say Jermaine O’Neal, not Marion. Don’t know what I was thinking about at that particular moment.

Elijah,

You went for the old misdirection play. I accuse Sam of being my doppleganger, and you speak up almost immediately. It’s okay, youngster. You’ll get better at being a clown. I have faith in you. Heh….by the way, writing is a hobby, not something that goes on a resume. I don’t expect you to understand, but even a blind squirrel with two broken legs can find a nut. Whether or not he knows what to do with it afterwards is another deal altogether….By the way, you set a rather attainable goal for Woody against the Lakers. 1 minute each for Mario and Solo? I’m holding you to EXACTLY that. And I’m no Woody fan.

Clyde,

Blogger of the Year is a one-time thing. I’ve moved on, bro’. What’s the new t-shirt slogan these days? Come on now, you gotta have something to get you back to Rio!

Big Ray

March 29th, 2009
3:47 pm

I have a very bad feeling about this game. It’s not like I had a good one to begin with. The Hawks are already jacking shots from the perimeter, including an early long bomb attempt by Josh.

Based on that sight alone, we’re going to lose. Playing like that against THE best team in the NBA? Yeah, that’s a loss. I sure hope we cut this foolishnes out…

Najeh Davenpoop

March 29th, 2009
3:50 pm

Considering how badly the Hawks started the game, I’m actually kinda happy with the 8-6 score.

2 fouls on Kobe — that’s a huge break.

bigdave

March 29th, 2009
3:51 pm

should be 3 on kobe but they letting him hound joe as always…

Najeh Davenpoop

March 29th, 2009
3:54 pm

2 fouls on Fisher too. It would be nice to see an effort to attack either Gasol or Odom and get one of them into foul trouble. After the early terrible start the Hawks are making a nice effort to get inside now.

Blast

March 29th, 2009
3:55 pm

LA might not kill you with the first shot, but they surely will hammer you on the offensive glass. Hawks must rebound.

Like Hawks energy right now. I think Joe is trying to prove something today.

Elijah

March 29th, 2009
3:57 pm

JOSH SMITH WATCH:

1 FOUL
BRICKED JUMPSHOT
2 WILD AIRBALLED LAYUPS.

WILL KEEP YOU POSTED

Ariose

March 29th, 2009
4:00 pm

Bibby on Farmar is how the Lakers started their run back in LA. Woodson needs to get Bibby outta there ASAP. Flip nees o get in there pronto.

bigdave

March 29th, 2009
4:04 pm

thats aight Josh… u were trying to send it in with some authority…

Elijah

March 29th, 2009
4:04 pm

Kobe with 2 fouls probably is not good. Hawks will go complacent and will be down 7 at halftime.

I hope I am wrong

Blast

March 29th, 2009
4:04 pm

That’s the 3rd dunk Josh has missed this season!

O'brien

March 29th, 2009
4:06 pm

So Woody takes a 20 sec timeout with 0.9 seconds left. I sure hope we run a good play

bigdave

March 29th, 2009
4:06 pm

another wasted time out by Woody… make or miss…

O'brien

March 29th, 2009
4:07 pm

Since Kobe has sat for so long, Woody needs to make sure JJ is rested, because I think Kobe will be fresh in the 4th.

Big Ray

March 29th, 2009
4:08 pm

Heck yeah, this is more like it!

Now extend the lead!

Blast

March 29th, 2009
4:08 pm

Enter your comments here

cheese

March 29th, 2009
4:09 pm

its all woodys fault! hawks are winning so far 20-13 after 1st.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 29th, 2009
4:13 pm

The Hawks’ defense has been outstanding over the last 10 minutes or so, and one of the main reasons, oddly enough, is Zaza Pachulia. He’s been great on the glass and in denying Pau Gasol post position.

Blast

March 29th, 2009
4:16 pm

That was a BS call on AL.

Sekou K. Smith

March 29th, 2009
4:17 pm

Kobe seemed like he wanted out of this game. He was playing like a man on a mission – to foul out of this game with his aggressive play early on. He seems to be resting just fine now over there on the end of the bench.

Sautee

March 29th, 2009
4:17 pm

Joe makes a LOT of his shots SO much harder that he has to. It’s like he WANTS to make a more difficult shot, rather than take an easy one.

bigdave

March 29th, 2009
4:19 pm

No Sekou its just that they usually let him get away with assault and battery…

Ariose

March 29th, 2009
4:23 pm

Mike Woodson takes takesthe dumbest timeouts sometimes……

Ariose

March 29th, 2009
4:30 pm

Ummm……I Want Mario in the rotation all the time.

Blast

March 29th, 2009
4:35 pm

Gasol and Odom in the game and Hawks go small? Now Zaza, who has played like a warrior has three fouls. Hawks must stop fouling.

Gp Mario!

Ariose

March 29th, 2009
4:38 pm

We haven’t scored in a while. We need to get our offense going.

Blast

March 29th, 2009
4:42 pm

Well, Hawks make it more interesting for themselves.

Kobe isn’t happy about Mario’s defence. Watch Kobe try to take over in the second half.

Refs straight up killing us. As usual.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 29th, 2009
4:43 pm

The front court foul trouble really hurt the Hawks in the last six minutes of the half. With a lack of size and no scoring from the front court the Hawks had to rely too much on the guards to carry them offensively and weren’t able to control the boards like they did in the 12 minutes before that. Josh, Al, and Zaza have to make sure they don’t commit unnecessary fouls in the 3rd quarter, or else the Lakers will be able to continue their run.

I posted this a couple of blogs ago, but I’ll say it again — if Mario West works on his outside jumpshot in the offseason, he will be a really valuable asset for this team next year. His inability to contribute offensively in the half court is the only thing keeping him from regular minutes right now.

AL

March 29th, 2009
4:47 pm

I hope Al gets going, he has not played well lately (Matt Bonner and Glen Davis).
If we do play Miami, at least we know Mario might be able to somewhat contain Wade.