Archive for January, 2010

Hawks Squawks: Hawks 102, Rockets 95

Twitpic courtesy @hawksPRMan

Absurd Twitpic courtesy @hawksPRMan

– 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 …

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Hawks at Rockets, AKA: Will this finally be the year they win in Houston?

Houston–The Hawks haven’t won at Houston since Feb. 25, 1999. That’s 10 straight losses. That’s pre-T-Mac and post-T-Mac. That’s with Lenny, Lon, Terry and Woody coaching the Hawks. And while this would seem to be the year for the Hawks to end the streak, with both T-Mac and Yao Ming sidelined and a considerable advantage in talent, remember the Hawks needed that Smoove tip dunk and Marvin’s 29 points to beat Houston at Philips back during their red-hot November.

The Rockets are a hard team to figure on paper. You look at their roster and there is nothing to excite you except Aaron Brooks and possibly super sixth man Carl Landry. You look deeper into the Rockets’ numbers and most are middle-of-the-pack–they share the ball fairly well and they are pretty good on the offensive boards but that’s about it. Yet they have managed to stay competitive by playing with effort and energy.

Except lately the Rockets haven’t always had good effort and energy (“This is the NBA, man”). Their …

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“This is the NBA, man”

Joe Johnson was talking the other night about how the Hawks twice allowed Charlotte to get back in the game. He was looking down searching for the words to describe their inconsistent effort, their stagnant offense, their fickle focus . . . and then he seemed to catch himself and suddenly looked up to make his point.

“This is the NBA, man” Johnson said. “That happens.”

In other words, it’s hard to always be dominant. It’s difficult to get good opponents down and keep them there. It’s not easy to always be up. It’s impossible to go all out all the time.

Even Woody softened his assessment of the Hawks over the course of the 4-1 homestand, from “we are still trying to learn how to win at a high level” to “I couldn’t ask for anything better” when assessing the first half of the season. Both statements can be true. He will ask for more, of course. He’s the coach. The players seem to want more, too, and they should. That’s what you expect from any team looking to do something …

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Hawks Squawks: Hawks 103, Bobcats 89

This is what it felt like for Jax and the Bobcats. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

This is what it felt like for Jax and the Bobcats. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

– Man, it was crazy to watch the Hawks dismantle the Bobcats like that. They finished their homestand 4-1 and that’s big with a brutal week ahead: at Houston, at San Antonio, vs. Boston and at Orlando.

– “We judge it week by week,” Woody said. “Last week was a great week. We had some slippage against Oklahoma City, can’t take anything away from them, they are playing well. But we bounced back to win the last two games. It was a good week.”

– The start was one for that school of thought that says “flat” really means “can’t make open shots.” The Hawks made 15 of 20 shots in the first quarter and it didn’t really come from working inside. Even Smoove got in on it with a 20-foot jumper.

– That started a run of 11 straight baskets during a six-minute stretch of the first quarter. Smoove had two steals and J.J. one during that 25-10 run.

– The Hawks came out smoking against the league’s best …

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Bobcats at Hawks, AKA Here Comes Yet Another Gritty Opponent

Remember those stretches this season when the Hawks were running opponents off the floor? Forget it.

Here come the Bobcats Charlotte, who follow the Kings, who followed the Thunder. Different levels of talent among those teams. Similar levels of energy and effort.

The Bobcats allow the fewest points per game in the league. Adjust it by possessions, and it’s the same thing.

It won’t be easy for the Hawks to score. They tend not to like that. If they abandoned (or just failed to execute) the offensive plan at times against Oklahoma City and the Kings, it’s not hard to imagine them doing it more often against the Bobcats.

“We are going to have to grind for 48 minutes,” Woody said, “which is OK. Last year we didn’t have a lot of blowouts and we had to grind. That’s good. It helps keep guys on their toes. With blowouts, you start to take things for granted.”

The Hawks insist they aren’t doing that with the Bobcats. Of course, they said the same thing against the Thunder and Kings …

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Mario West to stick around

The Hawks signed Mario West to a second 10-day contract. West, a Douglas County and Georgia Tech product, has appeared in four games since signing on Jan. 12 and is averaging 7.8 minutes per game. He played in 117 games for the Hawks from 2007-09.

When West signed, Woody said “I’m not scared to throw him in the game and he has to defend the best player on the opposing team,” and West drew an extended assignment against Thunder forward Kevin Durant in the Hawks’ 94-91 loss on Monday.

The Hawks cut West in training camp last summer and he was playing for the D-League’s Maine Red Claws when he was re-signed. Under NBA rules, after the latest 10-day contract expires the Hawks can retain West only by signing him for the remainder of the season.

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Bench Guys Want More Burn, Woody Says They Are Getting It . . . Another Day in the NBA

Crawford gets his minutes off the bench but what about the rest of the reserves? (Photo by Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Crawford gets his minutes off the bench but what about the rest of the reserves? (Photo by Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Let’s start with a couple doses of perspective.

First, the Hawks have won 27 games halfway through the season. They are within a half game of Boston for No. 2 in the East. It doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be better. It does mean any discussion of Woody’s rotation has to be viewed through that prism. You can argue about who should be playing more and when but remember the Hawks are doing pretty dang good.

Second, all bench players want to play more, and starters usually tend not to want the bench players to take their minutes. Notice how J.J. responded after the reserves sparked the Hawks to that victory over the Kings Wednesday night.

Wasn’t it nice to be able to rest while the second unit did some heavy lifting?

“I guess it was all right,” Johnson said.

So with those truisms in mind, it’s evident that the Hawks’ reserves would like more games like …

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Hawks Squawks: Hawks 108, Kings 97

– The reserves won this one, turning back the Kings in the third quarter. Woody went with the bench players after the Kings got back in the game.

– No Hawks starter played more than 32 minutes. Five reserves played 10 minutes or more.

– “Energy,” Zaza said of the reserves’ impact. “Hustle plays. Defensive stops. We’ve got one of the best offensive players, Jamal Crawford, on our unit. I love our second unit all year long.”

– I got the feeling the reserves would like more opportunities to play major minutes when the starters are sagging. Maybe they will after this.

– “On the bench, it’s something we discussed is to try to get in there and bring some energy on the defensive end, first of all, and let the offense handle itself,” Joe Smith said.

– The Hawks have reached the halfway point of the season with 27 victories. They lead the Southeast Division and trail Boston by one a half game for No. 2 in the Eastern Conference.

– “That’s good,” Smith said. “That means …

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Kings at Hawks, AKA Let’s See What Happens After Woody Calls Out His Vets

Woody was dang near prophetic before that loss to the Thunder on Monday when he said: “We are still trying to learn how to win at a high level.” A big part of that is matching the effort and intensity of so-called “lesser” opponents, and Woody said the Hawks “didn’t put up a fight early” against the Thunder.

So during the Tuesday film session the coach called on his veterans to lead the defensive effort.

“I put it right on them,” Woodson said. “And that’s how it should be. They should want more. Thy should want more from each other, and hold each other accountable, but they are not getting it done.”

Joe Johnson agreed.

“It’s definitely on guys like me, Mike (Bibby), and Jamal (Crawford) to get us all on the same page, especially on the perimeter,” Johnson said. “We’ve had a lot of breakdowns and that puts our ‘bigs’ in tough positions.”

Bibby said “we always can put a little bit more effort in,” but added: “We’ll be fine. I’m not really worried about it.”

Woody, though, …

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NBA denies Hawks protest of Dec. 30 loss at Cavs. Also, sun reportedly to rise tomorrow.

The league today denied the Hawks’ protest of their Dec. 30 loss at Cleveland due to a shot clock error.

“From the time we filed our protest, we indicated that we would allow the process to run its course, and today, the commissioner’s office has reached a decision,” Hawks GM Rick Sund said in a statement. “We abide by the league’s decision and will have no further comment regarding this matter.”

At least there will be no real letdown for the Hawks. It seems no one in the organization really expected to get a replay of the final two minutes of that 106-101 defeat.

Probably some of that is because it’s rare for the league to overturn a game result (yes, I know it happened to the Hawks). There’s also the feeling, shared by lots of people who follow (or hate) the NBA, that the league would not make a ruling at the expense of one of its marquee teams (we are back to Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal’s Heat winning that protest of the Dec. 19, 2007 loss to the Hawks). …

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