Archive for February, 2010

Hawks at Warriors, AKA My Weird Woody Weekend

Oakland– So on Friday before the Hawks played the Suns, Woody said this about Jason Collins and Joe Smith, two of his postseason-toughened veterans:

“When the playoffs come, they can be a big, significant part of it. I haven’t told them that, but I hope they can sense it. In the playoffs, your rotation thins and you tend to play the guys that have done it. They become more valuable in the playoffs.”

I wondered about both parts of that statement: the thinning of the postseason rotation and using those guys more. But then Woody played both Smith and Collins in the first half against the Suns and Smith played great and Collins wasn’t bad and I’m thinking, “Hey, maybe this is the start of something.”

But then of course Woody didn’t play either of those guys in the second half and in fact used no reserves other than Jamal Crawford. And while owning up to that mistake, Woody said this:

“I had to see something for myself. I condensed things last night almost like it was a …

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Woody: Short bench strategy “backfired on me” vs. Suns

PhoenixWoody, subdued and contemplative at this morning’s light practice, acknowledged that his strategy of playing his starters heavy minutes was a big factor in the Hawks’ loss to the Suns last night.

“I did something last night I haven’t done all year in terms of playing six guys,” he said. “I really thought we could beat those guys like that but it backfired on me because their second unit beat us.”

The Suns’ reserves took it to the Hawks in the fourth quarter. The Hawks’ reserves other than sixth man Jamal Crawford watched the entire second half from the bench.

Despite going with the starters plus Jamal for those 24 minutes, the Hawks managed just 30 points, missed 20 of 33 shots and were beaten 27-17 on the boards. Jason Richardson was the only Suns starter to play more than four minutes in the fourth quarter.

“Their second unit is probably their best defensive unit and they climbed up in us,” Woody said.

Woody stuck with his six-man rotation even though Hawks vet Joe …

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Hawks Squawks: Suns 88, Hawks 80

Tough night for Woody. (AP Photo)

Tough night for Woody. (AP Photo)

Phoenix– The Hawks limited Steve Nash to six points. The Suns made just two 3-pointers, scored more than 20 points below their average and had their lowest-scoring game since Feb. 22, 2008.

– And yet the Hawks still lost. What happened? “I’m not sure,” Jamal said. “Maybe we lost focus a little bit and it caught up with us.”

– Or maybe the Hawks’ starters lost their legs. Woody didn’t play any bench players other than Jamal in the second half. “I decided to go that route,” he said. “I learned a little something tonight because that won’t happen again.”

– With that, Woody walked off. Maybe he was peeved at his starters for letting the Suns’ reserves outplay them or ticked at himself for not using his bench more.

– Did the starters fatigue? “I’m not sure,” Josh Smith said. “Normally we don’t get tired. We practice well with our conditioning. We just got outplayed, bottom line.”

– The game was tied at 70-70 early in the fourth quarter. Then the …

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Hawks at Suns, AKA Stoudemire’s Still With Suns

Phoenix– There’s no doubt the Hawks caught a break on Wednesday when the Clippers traded away half their team and Baron Davis decided his back was too sore to play. Props to the Hawks for handling their business, but they will get no such break tonight.

After what seemed like months of speculation, the Suns didn’t trade Amar’e Stoudemire before the deadline. He talked with Suns brass over dinner last night and says he has no hard feelings.

So the Suns are at full strength except for Leandro Barbosa (wrist). They are also trying to hang onto a playoff spot in the Western Conference. No doubt they also remember this (dang that was my first game as beat guy and it seems like a year ago.)

The Hawks have to know what’s coming.

“We can’t come in here thinking it’s going to be like it was the other night,” Woody said.

– The Hawks want Zydrunas Ilgauskas. A lot still has to fall in place for that to happen. First, Ilgauskas has to be bought out. He’s not playing for the Wizards …

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Hawks stand pat at trade deadline, now look to Ilgauskas

'Big Z' seeking buyout from Wizards. (NBA.com)

‘Big Z’ seeking buyout from Wizards. (NBA.com)

Phoenix– The Hawks didn’t make any trades at today’s deadline, no surprise since GM Rick Sund had said all along he wouldn’t break up the team’s core with a deal.

“We like our core guys,” Sund said today. “I think we are positioned pretty well. We will learn some more (about the team) going forward in the last month-and-a-half and the playoffs.”

The Hawks also were unable to find any trade proposals that made sense. However, sources said the Hawks have reversed their stance on keeping their roster at the league minimum of 13 and will consider signing veterans who are bought out of their contracts by the end of this month.

The Hawks are expected to be among the suitors for veteran center Zydrunas Ilgauskas if he receives a buyout from the Wizards, sources said today. Ilgauskas was traded from Cleveland to Washington on Tuesday in a three-team deal but he’s seeking a buyout of the prorated portion of his $11.5 million …

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Hawks Squawks: Hawks 110, Clippers 92

Al had his way with Craig Smith and the Clips. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)

Al had his way with Craig Smith and the Clips. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)

Los Angeles– All the Hawks’ talk about refocusing after the All-Star break wouldn’t mean much if they lost this game. The Clippers were shorthanded, still spinning from recent trades and had played at Portland the night before. The Hawks were fresh, back at full strength and had a chance to start their four-game Western Conference trip in style.

– The Clippers were ripe for a beating, and the Hawks obliged. “This game was a challenge for our mental focus,” Smoove said. “We couldn’t worry about who they had playing.”

– The Clippers pushed the Hawks while losing at Philips Arena on Feb. 3 but this wasn’t the same team. Baron Davis sat out with a sore back. Marcus Camby was traded on Monday. Al Thornton and Sebastian Telfair were traded before the game on Tuesday.

Al Horford, fresh off his first All-Star appearance, went for a career-high 31 points. He was 12 of 15 from the floor as the Hawks shot 54 percent …

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Atlanta Hawks at Clippers, AKA Back to Work

Los Angeles–Another beautiful day in So Cal. Sorry to keep blabbing on about the weather but, man, since leaving Miami I’ve been desperate for some real winter sunshine (not that fake Atlanta sun where you see it but it has nothing to do with the actual temperature). I thought I would get some real weather in Dallas but of course they had record snow. So, yeah, I’ve been soaking in the So Cal sun.

I’m sure the Hawks have, too, but Woody likes the way they’ve been working while on the clock. The Hawks ran and ran and ran on Monday, then went hard again Tuesday. If any Hawks came back from the break lethargic, Woody shook em out of it.

“Guys are focused and there’s been no whining for all the running and stuff we’ve done,” Woodson said. “Everybody is just doing what they have to do.”

Hawks won't have to deal with him again. (nba.com)

Hawks won’t have to deal with him again. (nba.com)

— The Clippers traded Marcus Camby to Portland for Travis Outlaw and Steve Blake during the day Tuesday and then lost at Portland

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Atlanta Hawks (no) trade primer

marinadelrey4

Los Angeles–My editor sent me a note today with a question: “Why AREN’T the Hawks in the Stoudemire chase?

So I stopped staring out at my balcony view of Marina del Rey long enough to collect my thoughts on the matter. Tough gig.

I know it’s the kind of question Hawks fans have, too. They look at their team’s holes, hear about all the big deals going down (or being talked about) in the league and wish the Hawks would get in on Stoudemire or some other stud.

So I will attempt to answer my boss’s question and yours without boring or confusing you:

1. The Suns are looking to shed salary and the Hawks have no large expiring contracts to match up with Amare’s $16.4 million salary other than Joe Johnson’s $15 million.

2. The Hawks aren’t willing to deal J.J. or other core players with value (Smoove, Jamal and Horford) and haven’t received interest in players they might be willing to part with.

3. Hawks ownership, which still must maintain flexibility for its efforts to re-sign …

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Zaza Pachulia and Jamal Crawford return for Hawks

Los AngelesZaza Pachulia and Jamal Crawford were back at practice Monday and expect to play Wednesday night against the Clippers.

Pachulia has missed the last two games with left hip pain. Crawford sat out the last game before the All-Star break with a sore left shoulder.

Pachulia had been inactive since playing five minutes in the Hawks’ 91-81 victory over Chicago on Feb. 5. He’s had trouble with the hip twice this season but said he hopes to avoid further problems by better managing the injury.

“I feel better after the medicine,” he said. “I feel good. The rest was good. I just need to keep it in good shape. The last time it happened once there was no pain, I kind of let it go.”

Crawford missed the Hawks’ loss to the Heat on Wednesday with a sore left shoulder. He said the pain was related to an injury he suffered in 2008 with the Knicks but that he’s over it now.

“Everything is good,” he said.

MC

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As Cavs look to load up, J.J. says of Hawks: “We’ve got to be real scrappy”

Dallas– When the post All-Star game discussion turned to the best team in the East looking to add Amare Stoudemire, Hawks All-Star Joe Johnson let out a “Whew!” and smiled.

“They are just being selfish,” J.J. joked.

“They are trying to stack it, man,” Johnson said of the Cavs. “They are trying to do whatever it takes to keep ‘23′ (LeBron) there. And not only that they really, really are trying to shoot for a title. What they’ve got now, I think it’s a possibility, and getting Amare makes it even stronger.”

Does he expect the other East contenders to react to Cleveland’s move?

“Probably not,” he said. “A lot of the top teams, when you look at Boston and Orlando, they are pretty much set where they are at and feeling like they can win a championship with what they got.”

And what about the Hawks?

“I think we’re solid,” he said. “With what we got, we’ve got to be real scrappy and want it more than the next team. That’s the only way we are going to get over the top. We …

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