HAWKSVILLE – Mike Woodson is retiring his favorite word, for one night at least.
Huge is history. He’s caught the bug from Jamal Crawford, whose passing exploits in the Hawks’ blowout win over Washington Monday night at Philips Arena prompted Woodson to utter this bit of prose:
“It can become contagious,” he said of Crawford’s nine assists off the bench, a total that would have been well into the double digits if not for the greasy fingers and a couple of risky attempts. “We have guys that can, our perimeter guys can all pass the ball. It’s just a matter of guys sacrificing the ball for the sake of the team. There will be times when Jamal will have big scoring nights, and [Jeff] Teague’s going to have big scoring nights. And there will be nights when Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams and Josh Smith have big scoring nights. So I think there are enough scoring weapons that we don’t have to depend on one or two guys to score all four points this year. We’ve come a long way in that regard, and we have to utilize it as much as we can.”
The Hawks piled up 29 assists on the night while toying with the Wizards, who played without Gilbert Arenas (flu). Rookie point guard Jeff Teague showed out again (16 points and five assists) and there were nice contributions from veterans Joe Smith (four rebounds and two points) and Jason Collins (four points and four rebounds before going out late after rolling his ankle).
Crawford’s passing, however, stood out above the fray.
“I had no idea you could pass like that.” one keen observer told Crawford to his face after the game. “Seriously, I didn’t know you could pass like that.”
Crawford defended his passing ability and made clear his approach during the preseason.
“You can’t go out there just shooting like crazy,” Crawford said. “Especially for me, I’m in a totally different role. I have to get used to coming off the bench and picking my spots. Coach wants me to come out aggressive. He’s like, ‘just go, go.’ But I’m taking a more measured approach. I’m feeling my way through it and seeing exactly where I can be effective for this team.”
One thing no one has to worry about is a tug of ward between Crawford and Teague (a subtle dynamic that eliminated the chance that Acie Law IV and Flip Murray could coexist on the second unit together last year). Crawford and Teague have already developed a sound chemistry working together, which each one knowing when to defer to the other in terms of initiating the offense or going into a more offensive mode.
“We love playing together already,” Crawford said. “It’s a mutual respect thing. I liked his game in college and he told me he’s admired my game for a long time. So it’s a smooth relationship already. We’ve got a lot of pieces. We really, really do. And I think the more time together and the more time on the court together, we’re going to be fine. I know it’s just the preseason, but we have a chance to be really, really good.”
HIGHLIGHT FACTORY ANYONE
OLD HEADS IN THE BUILDING
So you had to wait a while to see the old fellas?
Al Horford and the rest of the Hawks did, too.
But it was worth the wait, seeing Joe Smith and Collins on the floor in uniform. Even Crawford has been tossed into the mix with the old heads, even though he’s yet to see his 30th birthday.
“I’m definitely excited to see Joe (Smith) get out there and play,” Horford said. “He’s going to be a big help for our team, as far as his leadership and the stuff he does on the court. And Jamal just makes the game easier for everybody else. I’m just excited to have those guys.”
FOOTBALL IN THE BLOOD
Count Zaza Pachulia among the converts to our brand of football.
His maiden voyage into the realm of domestic football, he took in Sunday’s Falcons-Bears game at the Georgia Dome, turned him into a true fan.
“It was tough for a while because I wasn’t sure about the rules and stuff,” Pachulia said. “My first time changed me from where I was before. I have interest now. We sat on the 50 yard line, pretty good seats. And it was good energy. I felt it inside. I left the Georgia Dome knowing that I want to come back, when I have the chance.”
THE LAST WORD
The Hawks didn’t just run circles around the Wizards Monday night. They ran them ragged. So much so that Wizards coach Flip Saunders polished off the night like this:
“I hope our guys worked on their conditioning, because from the standpoint of our game plan, we didn’t execute anything tonight. What i thought was disappointing was that this was an opportunity for some of our guys to step up, but no one really did that. We have to do all of the little things offensively and defensively to stay in the game. We definitely won’t be able to play this team this way in the regular season.”
The Hawks and Wizards will see each other again soon, Oct. 30 in the Hawks’ second regular season game of the year.