– Maybe it was the eyebrows.
– Woody showed up in the locker room before the game with his eyebrows shaved off. His players fell out clowning him but he kept a straight face and ignored them when they kept asking him what happened.
– “Nobody knows,” Jamal Crawford said. “You should get to the bottom of it and let me know.”
– “He claimed his barber did it on accident,” Smoove said.
– — Woody still wasn’t talking after the victory: “They got me doing all kinds of crazy stuff. There is no story. It’s just a win.”
– Smoove pasted some Velcro strips in the form of eyebrows on Woody’s head, and the coach came out for the pregame meeting looking redonkulous. So it was all fun and games beforehand. But then the Hawks went out and took care of business.
– It had to be a misdirection move by Woody, who didn’t want his guys to be too tight. “We wanted to have a happy-go-lucky atmosphere,” Smoove said. “I think he didn’t want to come and tell us how much he really, really wanted this game. I think it went over well with the guys. But we knew in the back of our minds how important this game was.”
– The Hawks played like it. The Rockets’ overachieving stuff is no match for the Hawks when they are scoring and swarming like this. This one had the look and feel of a Hawks team that knew it was better than the Rockets and was determined to come out and prove it.
– That’s three straight and eight of 10 for the Hawks since they lost four in a row. “When we play up to our ability, we are one of the elite teams in the league,” J.J. said.
– The Hawks won at Houston for the first time since Feb. 25, 1999, ending a 10-game losing streak here. “We’re growing as a basketball team,” Woody said. “It’s nice to see because we’ve had games here where we were not within 30.”
– “We wanted to get that monkey off our back,” Smoove said.
– The Hawks overwhelmed the Rockets with their talent. That’s how they stayed in the game despite not recording an assist until 9:53 of the second quarter.
– The Hawks dominated the second period with 12 of 23 shooting, 32 points, and an 18-7 advantage on the boards.
– That was the cushion the Hawks needed. “They ran the floor and at the end of the second quarter they made a run on us,” Houston’s Kyle Lowry said. “We didn’t need that and it seemed like we couldn’t get back after that.”
– Not when the Hawks are this determined. When the Rockets pushed back in the second half, the Hawks kept grinding. “That’s a sign of maturity,” Crawford said. “We don’t panic when we take a team’s punch.”
– After the Rockets made some 3-pointers early, the Hawks extended their defense to take it away. The Rockets were 3 of 8 on 3-pointers in the first quarter, 2 of 13 after that.
– There was nothing for them at the rim, either, except lots of long arms. Those seven blocked shots are just the beginning. “They blocked a lot of shots and changed a lot of our attempts,” Lowry said.
– The Hawks’ switching D was working. “We have each others’ backs if guys switch out,” Crawford said. “If somebody gets beat, we know we have help.”
– Once again when things went right Smoove was in the middle of it. Not even his dope stat line (22 points, 10 rebounds, four steals, four blocks) fully told it. “He did everything,” Woody said.
– Also, have you noticed lately that when Smoove gets ticked about a call early he doesn’t let his emotions take him out of the game? Forget Smith’s growth over the years, you can see it from week to week.
– The Hawks kept coming out on the wrong end of calls but they just kept playing. It was a very professional effort.
– Al Horford had to get stitches on his left thumb after a first-quarter whacking from Chuck Hayes. There was no foul called on the play.
– Horford came back for the second quarter. While he was out, Zaza and Joe Smith held it down.
– Joe Smith had his second consecutive solid effort. The old pro knows how to stay ready. Remember that come the postseason. Hey, he did it for the Cavs not too long ago.
– Speaking of vets coming up, Mike Bibby made two 3-pointers late to put the Rockets away. If he does that against the Thunder the Hawks are on a seven-game winning streak. As it is, they are still rolling.
– Now the game at San Antonio Wednesday won’t seem so desperate. The Hawks haven’t won there since Feb. 15, 1997, an 11-game streak. Lose it, and at least they beat the Rockets. Win it, and damn.
– By the way, I’m 4-1.
– Then again, Woody is undefeated post-eyebrows.
– I’m out, Hawks fans.