Archive for February, 2010

Hawks All-Stars shine for record crowd at Cowboys Stadium

Record Cowboys Stadium crowd announced at 108,713 (Tim Sharp / AP)

Record Cowboys Stadium crowd announced at 108,713 (Tim Sharp / AP)

Arlington, Texas—For a while Sunday night it appeared Joe Johnson’s first All-Star start would be forgettable.

The Hawks guard barely drew iron on his first shot . He went to the bench with no points in six first-quarter minutes.

But then Johnson helped the Eastern Conference heat up later in the half.

Johnson scored on one of his familiar isolation dribble moves with a turnaround jump shot. Then he collected LeBron James’ save from out of bounds and made a 3-pointer. Finally he took a long pass from Derrick Rose for a fastbreak dunk.

Johnson helped key a big run to end the first half, and the East went on to a 141-139 victory over the Western Conference in front of a record crowd of 108,713 at Cowboys Stadium.

“It was amazing,” Johnson said. “I found myself looking up in the stands at all the people or up at the big screen. I enjoyed it, as usual.”

Johnson, playing in his fourth straight All-Star game, …

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Should you kinda sorta hope the Cavs do get Amare?

(Jonathan Mannion/dimemag.com)

(Jonathan Mannion/dimemag.com)

Dallas– Probably you hear about Cleveland’s pursuit of Amare Stoudemire and figure that if that deal with Phoenix gets done, whatever chance the Hawks had of toppling the Cavs disappears unless the Hawks also make an unexpected big move (or at least a move for a big).

After all, if Cleveland adds Amare andthen as expected brings back Ilgauskas after the Suns buy him out, those two plus Shaq would give the Cavs three long big men in the pivot (four if you count Varejao). That’s three or four better options than the Hawks if you consider Horford to really be a four, which he is (Amare is the same height as Al but probably plays bigger).

Here in Dallas, though, there is some head-scratching about why the Cavs are considering the move even beyond Stoudemire’s ability to opt out of his contract after this season. For one, Cavs coach Mike Brown is a Popovich disciple, which means he wants to win with rugged team defense, and that’s not Amare’s thing. …

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Angel to Steve Smith: Don’t embarrass yourself tonight

Angel, Steve and J.J. shooting stars (AP)

Angel, Steve and J.J. are shooting stars (AP)

Dallas–If you need a reason to watch the lowest-wattage event of All-Star weekend (I mean even that C-list celebrity game had T.O. dunking) then peep the Atlanta contingent in the Shooting Stars contest tonight.

J.J., former Hawks All-Star Steve Smith and current Atlanta Dream star Angel McCoughtry will rep Atlanta. They will compete against three other teams of NBA, WNBA and former NBA players/analysts by shooting from six different spots on the floor and . . . aw, skip it.

Angel already has called out Smith, 40, an NBA TV analyst.

“I’ve been talking to Steve,” she said. “I told him he needs to get his ice, his massage, some Flexall, whatever he needs to do to get ready. He needs this W more than I do. He’s an analyst, and he will get talked about bad (on TV) if he loses.”

Angel was WNBA Rookie of the Year for the Dream last summer. More important to me, because I’m selfish, she’s the greatest player in the history of the women’s …

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“Are the Hawks legitimate threats to win the Eastern Conference now?”

Apparently he's no fan of Iso-Joe, man.

Apparently he’s no fan of Iso-Joe, man.

Dallas–I asked the question, these guys answered at the Hall of Fame presser (where former Hawks player/coach Richie Guerin was included among 19 finalists):

Bill Walton

“The Hawks have to make the leap forward that good teams sometimes accomplish but often fail at. Their success will come when they understand that it’s about the team and it’s about ball movement. Unless you have Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant or LeBron James on your team, or . . . one of the greatest of the greats, a select few in the history of basketball—unless you have one of those guys you are not going to be able to win by playing off the dribble.”

Nique

“Oh, yeah. No question. The thing is it is OK for us to be the underdog. In the East they know this Atlanta team is for real and we have a legitimate shot of beating anyone in the East. If you are going to take us for granted going into the playoffs that is going to be a mistake.”

Magic Johnson

“The Hawks are the …

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J.J.: “I would love to” re-sign with Hawks “but who knows what happens”

J.J. took questions about his free agency, offered few answers. (AP Photo/Tim Sharp)

J.J. took questions about his free agency, offered few answers. (AP Photo/Tim Sharp)

Dallas– Left Joe Johnson for a while at All-Star media availability on Friday to get some other stuff, and then caught up with him as he finally stood from his table and got the heck out of there.

So did you get many questions from reporters about your potential free agency after the season?

“Yeah,” he said, smiling wearily.

And what did you tell them?

“I told them the truth: Who knows what’s going to happen in July?” he said, repeating the standard response he’s given to hacks who come through Atlanta and corner him on the subject.

But doesn’t the fact you approached the Hawks about an extension last summer indicate you’d prefer to stay in Atlanta?

“I’d love to,” he said, “but who knows what happens, man.”

That’s about as close as J.J. will come to saying he intends to re-sign with the Hawks. That’s good business, of course. No need to say one way or another until he sees how the Hawks finish …

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Van Gundy gives J.J. All-Star start, J.J. turns down USA Basketball

Dallas–Hawks PR man Arthur Triche confirmed that Joe Johnson has been told he will make his first All-Star start on Sunday.

Orlando’s Stan Van Gundy, who is coaching the Eastern Conference for Sunday’s All-Star game, decided to start Johnson in place of Allen Iverson. Iverson bowed out of the game for personal reasons.

Van Gundy chose from among East guards Johnson, Rajon Rondo of Boston and Derrick Rose of Chicago. Rondo and Rose are first-time All-Stars while Johnson will play in his fourth straight game.

“I’m extremely excited by this honor, and appreciative that I’ve been selected,” Johnson told Triche. “Thanks to Coach Van Gundy for having the confidence in me and I hope to represent the Hawks well on Sunday.”

Meanwhile, Johnson declined an opportunity to play for the U.S. national team at the 2010 world championships and 2012 Olympics.

USA Basketball national director Jerry Colangelo approached Johnson about being included in the 27-player pool for international …

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David Lee on All-Star team, Smoove (gladly) on the beach

Smoove will be chillaxing like this, except with no uniform and more sand. (dimemag.com)

Smoove will be chillaxing like this, except with no uniform and more sand. (dimemag.com)

Dallas– Ever since the All-Star reserves were announced and Smoove didn’t make it, it’s seemed everyone around him has been more outraged about it. Family, friends, fans, media–everyone seems to think Smoove got screwed, except for Smoove.

And it continued that way right up to the All-Star break. After the Hawks lost to the Heat  last night, someone asked Smoove if he hoped to be picked as the replacement for A. I., who it turns out won’t play for personal reasons. Commish Stern picked Knicks center David Lee to replace him.

“My flight is booked,” Smoove said, laughing. “I’m really not even thinking about that. I am thinking about sticking my feet in the sand.”

He’s headed to the Turks and Caicos Islands in the West Indies (”First time”). Looking at the snow storm outside my hotel room here in Dallas, I’m thinking Smoove made out in that exchange.

But, for real, he probably did deserve to …

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Hawks Squawks: Heat 94, Hawks 76

Haslem part of Heat's bench beatdown of Hawks. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Haslem part of Heat’s bench beatdown of Hawks. (Curtis Compton/compton@ajc.com)

– The Hawks needed something extra from the bench on the second night of a back-to-back and with Jamal out and J.J. getting over his flu. But the Heat’s bench players outscored their Hawks counterparts 45-8, including 26-5 in the second half.

– With that kind of production from the Heat’s reserves, it hardly mattered that Dwyane Wade had a relatively quiet game with 18 points. “Their bench really beat us,” Smoove said. “Mostly when they had their run, ‘D-Wade’ was on the bench. We can’t let that happen.”

– That was bad, yet the most alarming part was seeing the Hawks sag their shoulders, scrunch their faces and seemingly throw in the towel when the Heat made its fourth-quarter run. “We had a lot of mishaps we don’t normally have,” J.J. said.

– Smoove looked particularly sour in the fourth. “It’s kind of frustrating when you don’t even give yourself a chance to win from the beginning,” he said. “I …

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Heat at Hawks, AKA Woody Looking At What Happens After The Weekend

Woody didn’t give the expected “win this one for momentum going into the All-Star break” spiel. Instead, he’s more concerned about what the Hawks do when they return to work on Feb. 15 in LA.

“After tonight’s game we really to make a serious push,” he said. “We need to be committed after the All-Star game. Guys will get a chance to rest their bodies over the break but they’ve really got to be more committed when they come back. Not that they haven’t done that so far, but the mental focus has really got to be there.”

Not surprisingly, Woody wants to see better defense and rebounding.

“We have so much slippage in those areas because we are not committed to the scheme,” he said.

Offensively, he said the Hawks need to be sharper in the halfcourt because that’s how opponents are trying to force them to play.

“The teams we play know we are much better when we are up and down” he said.

Jamal was a late scratch. The Hawks said he aggravated his left shoulder in his sleep last …

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Hawks Squawks: Hawks 108, Grizzlies 94

No Grizzlies dared challenge Marvin on this night. (Lance Murphey, AP)

No Grizzlies dared challenge Marvin on this night. (Lance Murphey, AP)

— This one basically was over once the Hawks cranked up their defensive energy. The Grizzlies scored just 39 points after halftime.

– “It was a little heated in the locker room at halftime,” Woody told FSN South/SportSouth sideline reporter James Verrett. “I just thought we were trading buckets. We were lucky to be down two coming in at halftime. The third quarter we came out to play and it carried over into the fourth. We’ve got to defend like that.”

– Man, the Hawks really look good when they decide they are going to make opponents play their game. They were ahead only 73-71 late in the third. Next thing you knew it was 106-86. You could see the Grizzlies sag in the face of all that talent unleashed.

– “It feels good to know when you got Josh and Al and those guys back there,” Jamal told Verrett. “It makes things a whole lot easier. You can put pressure up front and you know you have support back …

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