Business (trip) as usual

Don't let the beautiful views fool you, this is a business trip for the Hawks.

Don't let the beautiful views fool you, this trip to the left coast is a business trip for the Hawks.

LOS ANGELES – Jeff Teague’s Halloween costume aside, the Hawks are here in my favorite city for one thing and one thing only; business.

This is a business trip that they’ve been looking forward to since the NBA schedules were released in the summer.

And believe me, I’m as guilty as anyone of falling in love with the sights and sounds of this weather paradise (that’s sunset at Venice Beach above, courtesy of Hawksville’s resident suit man Big Kuntry) and forgetting, even if it is just momentarily, that there’s work to be done first.

The business starts at Staples Center today against the defending champion Lakers and weaves through Portland (Tuesday), Sacramento (Wednesday) and concludes dangerously in Charlotte (Friday), a place the Hawks haven’t played well dating back to last season.

That’s why, in my estimation, this is such a crucial stretch of the early season for the Hawks.

Too many times they’ve departed the friendly confines of Philips Arena and seemingly lost any semblance of order, swagger and just plain know-how that they’ve shown on their home floor.

Seriously, the one thing the Hawks have yet to conquer during this rejuvenated stretch of the Mike Woodson era is their road game. Those 16 road wins from a year ago kept them from being among the league’s elite; by the count of most of those in the know a legitimate big-time squad wins 20-plus away from home. We’ve talked at length around here about the Hawks’ failings on recent attempts on the big stage – from the Cleveland series last year through the preseason finale on ESPN against Orlando.

The Lakers, and to a larger extent this road trip, present an opportunity for the Hawks two right all those recent wrongs. Win two or three of these games and perhaps it’s a bit easier to classify this team among the best (or at least the teams legitimately challenging for that seat at that table).

I am more convinced than ever that the Hawks are on the path to greater things. I don’t know what other conclusion you could make after watching them rise from the depths of their 13-69 ashes of five years ago. But I need something to erase any doubts that may linger. I need to see the Hawks rise up to the challenge that this road trip presents. That doesn’t mean I expect them to breeze through this thing undefeated and pile up six straight wins to start a second straight season. I just need a resolute effort against the two teams they’ll face to start this trip. Compete like a team that’s serious about stomping with the big dogs and it’ll be a lot easier for us all to think of the Hawks in that regard.

THE LAKERS MATCHUP

The Lakers will be without at least one of the main cogs of their championship puzzle for tonight’s game. All-Star big man Pau Gasol was ruled out of the game with that hamstring injury that has plagued him throughout training camp and the early part of this season. I’d suggest that’s a good thing for the Hawks … until realizing that the Lakers are deep enough and talented enough that it’s not going to make a huge difference.

In fact, the Lakers match up just as well against a team like the Hawks because they’ll have a smaller and arguably more athletic lineup to match up against the their visitors from the east with Ron Artest, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum across the frontcourt.

Marvin Williams will have his hands full tonight dealing with Artest, and probably Kobe Bryant at times, on the defensive end. I imagine Joe Johnson will see quite a bit of both of those guys as well, particularly Artest on defense. But Marvin can’t sleepwalk (as he says he did in Friday’s win over Washington) through the first three quarters against the Lakers and the Hawks expect anything but disaster.

They’ll need everyone engaged from start to finish if they’re trying to do what the Mavericks did the other night in knocking off the champs on their own floor – and something tells me the Lakers won’t be interested in suffering consecutive home losses now or at any other time this season.

Again, this is a game full of intriguing matchups that require our magnifying glasses.

By the way, in case you missed it, my esteemed colleague Steve Hummer authored a fantastic piece on Hawks’ sixth-man Jamal Crawford that requires reading.

FOOTBALL SEASON IS OVER AROUND HERE

Again, football season is over around here folks. It’s done. Finished. Over with.

Gabriel Smith and the Smyrna Spartans go it in Saturday! Now football season is done. (Photo credit belongs to Mrs. Z))

Gabriel Smith and the Smyrna Spartans go it in Saturday! Now football season is done. (Photo credit belongs to Blogette Z)

I’m not just saying that because Michigan has fallen off the cliff (witness the devastation of our latest disaster, a 38-13 waxing at the hands of lowly Illinois) or because Gabriel Smith led the Smyrna Spartans to a smashing finish to their season Saturday in the mud (an 18-12 overtime win over South Paulding in which he opened the Spartans’ scoring with a 90-yard jaunt up the sideline and finished it with 12-yard scamper in the OT. It was a good day and major props to another esteemed colleague and the Spartans’ coach, one D. Orlando Ledicheck). It has nothing to do with the Bulldogs and those black helmets (personally, I thought that was a fresh touch, even if the Gators weren’t particularly impressed) or the fact that Georgia Tech is on a collision course with the BCS (I wish Michigan had hired Paul Johnson).

It’s just time. We’re a week into the NBA season. It’s time to get on the basketball bus.

It is November.

So by decree of the man soon to be formerly known as Blog Z, it is officially basketball season from this day forth … at least around here.

COSTUME MADNESS

We’re still investigating the Ladybug outfit Teague was forced to fly in on Halloween. There’s no doubt it was part of a rookie ritual that the youngster will never forget. And since there is photo (and rumored video) evidence of this hilarious sight, we won’t allow him to forget it either. As soon as one of his teammates give up the goods … uh, I mean our investigators can locate the footage, it’ll be planted here for the enjoyment of all.

Don’t forget, Hawks-Lakers tonight live from Staples Center. I know you’ve got to work in the morning and you might not stay up to watch the whole thing. But the blog will be live and hopping throughout.

493 comments Add your comment

bigdave

November 1st, 2009
3:18 pm

lets get it…

Tony from Stone Mountain

November 1st, 2009
3:26 pm

The Lakers can be had!

Clyde

November 1st, 2009
3:28 pm

FOOTBALL SEASON IS ALIVE AND WELL SEKOU. The Crimson Tide of Alabama are still rolling and the 155 pound Lions from Tucker are headed to the playoffs. The Hawks can wait.

niremetal

November 1st, 2009
3:33 pm

As if we needed further evidence that Clyde doesn’t actually give a damn about the Hawks, except to the extent that he can say “I told you so.”

cp

November 1st, 2009
3:38 pm

The key to tonights game is that if the Hawks get down early they don’t panic. I remember last season in a game against the Lakers they got down early and just lost their composure. They were rushing shots, turning the ball over, and not playing defense. If they get hit in the mouth early they have to sustain that blow and keep fighting. Its going to be a difficult game but if the Hawks want to be considered one of the better teams this year they have to win games like this.

Patrick

November 1st, 2009
4:10 pm

Hawks fan out in San Diego, driving up for the game tonight. Josh Smith jersey in the washing machine, list of insults for front-running Lakers fans and generally horrible L.A. residents being created. Should be a really good time.

Reggie (The Bird and Indian)

November 1st, 2009
4:22 pm

I’ll have my first blogging game of the year tonight. I’m looking forward to it. I went to the game Friday night. I was a little disappointed with the crowd. The only yelling came from the kids. I was expecting some excitement about the Hawks this year. Joe looks like Joe from last year; not enough energy from him. Crawford looked very quick and energized and that’s why Joe sat for a lot of the game. I was very impressed by Jamal. Teague looked solid but he needs some work on his O. Smith and Horford looked very good also. Smith’s block and alley was beautiful. Bibby seems fine with his new role and I like what he’s done so far. Marvin looked like he needed to take a nap. sheesh

cp

November 1st, 2009
5:12 pm

Marvin has to step it up tonight. We need a big game from him

Tribe

November 1st, 2009
5:42 pm

“by the count of most of those in the know a legitimate big-time squad wins 20-plus away from home”

There should be a comma between “know” and “a.” Errors like these make me read sentences 5 times before fully understanding them fully

Tribe

November 1st, 2009
5:43 pm

“I am more convinced than ever that the Hawks are on the path to greater things. ”

Is this what you said last Friday night after the Orlando game? Typical Hawks fan

d.carter

November 1st, 2009
5:53 pm

please woody lets not waste a lot of time with M.bibby 2nite, let JCraw and Jteague get minutes early and often… also would love to see a little ZA ZA , AL, Joe J, JCraw and Jteague lineup at times 2nite

Reggie (The Bird and Indian)

November 1st, 2009
6:05 pm

Trive: “Before fully understanding them fully”.
I’m hoping you were doing that to be funny. If you weren’t, please be correct when you correct someone. I’m sure this was a quick unedited entry Sekou needed to get in. The man can make a couple of errors. DOB’s are worse than this. But what else would I expect from you, Tribe.

niremetal

November 1st, 2009
6:20 pm

Reggie,

I think that was someone making fun of Tribe. But if not, I agree :-P

northcyde

November 1st, 2009
6:46 pm

Lamar Odom ( and not Kobe ) has been the “Hawk Killer” the past 2 seasons, especially on the boards. Gasol had a triple-double in a game last year.

vava74

November 1st, 2009
7:03 pm

The worst thing that could have happened to the Hawks was Dallas winning on Friday.

I don’t think the Lakers will lay a egg two home games in a row.

I think Ron Artest will have a breakout game for the Lakers.

I hope that I wrong ‘though…

O'Brien

November 1st, 2009
7:15 pm

One thing not to be overlooked, is we will need a good game plan from Woody. It is possible that the Lakers will jump out to an early 5 or 10 point lead. If that happens, Woody needs to call a timeout, make an adjustment, and hopefully, the players will execute accordingly.

I dont want to hear Woody saying “We just didnt have any energy, or intensity”. I agree with others on here who have stated that Woody’s plan B is to try harder at plan A. So if the Hawks start slow, I hope Woody can make an early move (maybe sub Crawford for Marvin if Marvin is sleep walking again). And I hope he doesnt wait too long to call his timeouts.

I hope the Hawks win tonight, but even if they lose, as long as its by single digits, I think it will be a moral victory (in my opinion).

Mz. Hawkdafied

November 1st, 2009
8:06 pm

The ATL Hawks have gone back to Cali to handle sum bizness. Getting a win on the road against the world champs would be huge for the Hawks. It’s definitely not gonna be easy but it’s certainly achievable. Last time Lamar Odom got too many rebounds. Gotta limit the second chance points and hustle for the rebounds. Throw sum D on em too. Watch turnovers, take care of the ball, and if the jump shots aren’t falling take the game inside and knock down those free throws. Take advantage of Gasol not being in the lineup however small the advantage might be. If you gonna go down, go out fighting.

Mz. Hawkdafied

November 1st, 2009
8:14 pm

LMBO @ the rook having to wear a lady bug costume, hilarious. Giggly, giggly, ha, ha, lol, lol! Ahhh look at little Blog Z having fun playing football in the mud, cute! Nice pic of Cali. Enjoyed reading the article on Jamal Crawford.

GO HAWKS! GET OVER THAT ROAD BLOCK!

roan st

November 1st, 2009
8:14 pm

I would trade Marvin Williams for Orlando’s Ryan Anderson straight up!!! Right Now!! I have tired of watching that goofy duck butt waddle around the court and disappear from games. Get rid of him while we can still get something decent in return. What can he do other than make an occasional jump shot? He sure as hell can’t drive the ball to the hole. Every time I see him try to drive to the bucket he gets called for a charge. And I have heard some give him credit for improving his defense but I not at all impressed with that aspect of his game either.

hawks_4_life

November 1st, 2009
8:23 pm

Roan st

What impresses you about Anderson, the only thing he can do better than Marvin is shoot 3s.

cp

November 1st, 2009
8:25 pm

O’Brien that’s another concern of mine. If plan A does not work tonight then the game is pretty much over because Woodson never has a plan B. He has to learn to make adjustments. If the guys get down early they have to keep calm and fight through it. Marvin has to have a good game. No more disappearing. He has to step it up.

Jamal Crawford for Atlanta Mayor

November 1st, 2009
8:37 pm

Man, I just want the Hawks or Falcons to win tonight. Being a UGA alum, I’ve been suffering!

One thing that’s got to change– and again, we’re coming up on GAME THREE– is the slow starts. That’s okay– but not good– at home against the likes of the Pacers and Wizards, but on the road against the Lakers? Our guys need to be executing and defending. You can’t spot the opposition 10 points early and expect to come back all the time. Anyone else a little concerned about that tendency? Or is it just early– can’t call 2 games a trend?

Reggie (The Bird and Indian)

November 1st, 2009
8:55 pm

Jamal Crawford for Atlanta Mayor: Falcons play tomorrow night. ;)
GO SAINTS! GO TECH! :)

gdg73

November 1st, 2009
9:01 pm

What is up with Jason Collins? Why can’t he get on the court? Is Zaza that much better than him? When was the last time Zaza had a “and 1″ hoop? He flops too much if you ask me.

Brandon from Warner Robins

November 1st, 2009
9:29 pm

Big test tonight with the Lakers and Kobe….

Mac-Town 478

November 1st, 2009
9:58 pm

I wanna see Crawford and Teague have HUGE nights.

O'Brien

November 1st, 2009
10:32 pm

I think JJ plays 39 minutes tonight.

ant banks

November 1st, 2009
10:36 pm

what channel is the game on on comcast?

Brandon from Warner Robins

November 1st, 2009
10:38 pm

ant banks

November 1st, 2009
10:39 pm

oh…i found it

bigdave

November 1st, 2009
10:48 pm

kill em’ Joe…

bigdave

November 1st, 2009
10:48 pm

hit your open shot Bibby…

Sekou Smith

November 1st, 2009
10:48 pm

Spoke with Joe Johnson before tip. He talked about playing his team needing to play its best on this floor after so many ugly trips west. He’s in an early groove with six of the Hawks’ first nine points.

Brandon from Warner Robins

November 1st, 2009
10:49 pm

Sekou Smith

November 1st, 2009
10:49 pm

Not hard to figure out the Lakers’ plan tonight. Go inside early and often to Bynum and try and exploit his size advantage over Horford.

vava74

November 1st, 2009
10:51 pm

too many open looks going “clank!!”

roan st

November 1st, 2009
10:52 pm

“What impresses you about Anderson, the only thing he can do better than Marvin is shoot 3s.”

He can shoot better, drive to the basket better, rebound better, and he is only 21 and has more upside. Anything else?

bigdave

November 1st, 2009
10:52 pm

Joe always defends the Kobe/Lebron’s of the world well… and is doing a good job tonight…

good to see him in an early groove.. thats see if Kobe results to his “riding” defense he usually pulls out against Joe because the refs let him do it time and time again. havent seen it early though. Joe looks beastly tonight…

O'Brien

November 1st, 2009
10:52 pm

We’ve left 6 points out there. Bibby missed an open 3, and JJ missed an open 3.

But Joe is looking good early. Horford is going to be in for a long night.

Brandon from Warner Robins

November 1st, 2009
10:53 pm

who calls Hawks’ games on the radio? whoever he is, the guy is pretty entertaining.

bigdave

November 1st, 2009
10:53 pm

J. Crid at the PG lets see…

O'Brien

November 1st, 2009
10:54 pm

Whats up with Marvin? He is so clumsy!

ant banks

November 1st, 2009
10:55 pm

i tol’ y’all every effin’ time marvin drives he ends up on his azz

bigdave

November 1st, 2009
10:56 pm

NYLONS haters…!!!

Reggie (The Bird and Indian)

November 1st, 2009
10:56 pm

Marvin? What’s wrong?

Joe is feeling it!

ant banks

November 1st, 2009
10:56 pm

yes, get marvin’s azz outta there

roan st

November 1st, 2009
10:56 pm

Why can’t we start bibby, crawford, johnson, smith, horford? At 6′8″ and with his strength can Joe not easily play the small forward position? Crawford would seem to make our lineup so much better.

Duck sure is off to a great start!! lol. He’s nothing but a damn liability on the floor.

Melvin

November 1st, 2009
10:57 pm

Joe Johnson is on fire….

Blast

November 1st, 2009
10:57 pm

Hawks balling!!!!

Joe in the zone!!!!

bigdave

November 1st, 2009
10:57 pm

ELITE PLAYER…!!! HATERS!!