Archive for March, 2010

Hawks Squawks: Hawks 109, Lakers 92

– The Hawks dominated the Lakers in every which way. The offense was unstoppable. The defense was excellent. The bench was superb.

– The Lakers are tougher with Andrew Bynum (Achilles’) of course but that shouldn’t take away from the Hawks’ complete effort. “Any time you beat the Lakers, the defending (NBA) champions, it speaks volumes,” Woody said. “If we are committed for 48 minutes we can beat any team in the league, I really believe that.”

– It sure looked like it tonight. The defensive intensity, rotations, closeouts and rebounding were all on point. “Guys got after it,” Marvin said. “We took on the individual challenge to defend.”

– “I was satisfied with every position defensively,” Woody said, and how many times does he say that?

Kobe got 28 points but only eight after halftime. He showed why he’s the best during that 14-point second quarter, when the Hawks did pretty much everything they could to slow him but he just made tough shots.

– “They …

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Lakers at Atlanta Hawks: Yeah, it’s big

The Hawks are still taking it one cliched game at a time.

It’s just that this one is bigger than most.

“There’s always more energy when you play against the top teams,” Jamal said. “You get a chance to measure yourselves against the best teams and the best players. Those games are always a lot of fun. I don’t care what anyone says, they are a little more special.”

Even Woody, loathe to acknowledge that any game is bigger than the next, said this one is significant.

“You want to play your best,” Woody said. “When you play the world champions it is a test to see how you fare.”

In the big picture, the standings are the most important reason for the Hawks to get a W. They aren’t going to catch Orlando but for the first time Woody said finishing ahead of Boston for No. 3 in the East is important, too.

“It’s a major goal,” he said.

There’s also the matter of getting 50 victories for the first time since 1997-98. That seems almost certain but you never know.

“There’s no reason …

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Atlanta Hawks: Will they come to praise the Lakers at Philips?

Will they clap for Kobe at Philips? (US Presswire)

Will they clap for Kobe at Philips? (US Presswire)

I’m curious what my blog people think about Woody’s pretty forceful comments about Hawks fans showing too much love for some visiting teams. If you are reading this then you probably aren’t a casual fan; I doubt any of you are heading to Philips in your Kobe jersey. So since Woody probably isn’t talking about you, can you get on board with his view that Philips needs to be more hostile to visiting stars or do you think he’s off base?

Woody first mentioned the topic a few weeks back because he thought support for visiting teams at Philips had increased even though the Hawks are better. I kept the angle in the back of my mind and planned to address it when a marquee team came to town. Well, the Lakers are here and obviously they fit that description.

There’s just something about the Lakers, and I think it goes beyond winning. I spent a decent amount of time reporting on the Lakers in 2004-05 season because they’d traded Shaq to …

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Atlanta Hawks: Fewer Worries?

Three weeks and nine games until the regular season ends and the Hawks still have issues. But there also are a couple things you might have worried about a few weeks back that look more promising now.

First, though, the issues. Every team headed for the playoffs has them, of course, but the Hawks have more things to worry about than Cleveland and Orlando and maybe even Boston. Tops among them is that the defense just hasn’t gotten any better, ranking in the middle of the pack and threatening to finish at or near its pecking order in 2007-08.

Notice that Orlando, Boston and Cleveland are all significantly better defensively than the Hawks. Also note that potential first-round opponents Charlotte, Milwaukee and Miami are also better at getting stops. I’m still looking for evidence of the Hawks’ defensive disposition that I heard about before I arrived. I’ve simply not seen anything like the singleminded, obsessive defensive culture I witnessed with Pat Riley’s Heat. Now that …

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Hawks Squawks: Hawks 94, Pacers 84

– This one was looking like Philly all over again early. The Pacers got any perimeter shots they wanted while making 6 of 9 3-pointers in the first quarter. Brandon Rush was lighting up J.J. for 4 of 4 3s. The Pacers scored 31 points.

Tweeted Hawksdawgs of Peachtree Hoops: “The Hawks have closed out on a shooter one time so far, and Mo Evans fouled Troy Murphy for a three point play on that possession.”

– Enter Jamal Crawford. He scored 10 points during the 12-3 run that energized the Hawks. “Now that’s what my team expects of me,” he said. “If I’m not doing that I am kind of throwing everyone else out of wack.”

– It wasn’t just Jamal, it was all the bench guys. Zaza, the Rook’, Mo and Joe Smith all had a hand in limiting the Pacers to 7 of 20 shooting in the second quarter. Shoot, Teague even got up to bloc Danny Granger’s shot on a fastbreak.

– “Our second unit came in and really picked up our defense up and got us going,” Woody said. “I thought that was the …

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Pacers at Atlanta Hawks: Attitude and Effort

So today we should find out if what happened at Philly on Friday was just a slip-up or a sign that the Hawks’ attitude and focus are indeed slipping. The Pacers probably don’t have the same athletic talent as the Sixers but they are playing better lately. They’ve got a hard-nosed attitude and a coach with a disdain for tanking. They are coming to play.

Will the Hawks match their intensity or will they figure their talent and homecourt will carry them? Lately I can tell Woody is weary of being the voice asking those kind of questions and looking for the answers.

“I am getting tired,” he said. “After a while, you have got to start figuring things out yourselves, man. We’ve got enough games under our belt. If we win 50-plus games we’ve made a step in the right direction but there is another level.”

Woody is ultimately responsible for the performance of the team. His plans and strategies are fair game for criticism. But he can only do so much when it comes to motivating and …

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Hawks Squawks: 76ers 105, Hawks 98

–It had been a minute since you could say the Hawks opened with an unfocused effort and stayed in that mode. Maybe their last game at Washington but at least they turned it on in the fourth quarter to win that one. You might have to go back to the loss to the Heat before the All-Star game.

– Sure, the Hawks have had issues closing out games but they haven’t been sleepwalking. Until now. “I think from the start we just weren’t with it,” Al said. “I know it’s a long season but games like this are unacceptable, especially at this time of year when we have something at stake.”

– That latter part is why you can’t say this is just one of those games in a long season. The Hawks are playing for something. If they are serious about a special postseason they can’t still be using that crutch with 10 games left.

– The Hawks came crashing down after finally beating the Magic on Smoove’s tip dunk. ”You always know after a big game like Orlando can’t have a …

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Atlanta Hawks at 76ers: Making Progress

Time for me to be macro again. The Hawks won 47 games last season. Beat Philly tonight and they’ll have 47 victories with 10 to go. Any way you look at it at right now, barring a complete and total collapse down the stretch that’s progress.

“Right now” is the hedge, of course, because it means more if the regular season leads to something better and not as much if it ends up going nowhere. But it’s something for now, and Woody deserves a moment to say he’s glad to see it.

“I am very, very proud,” he said. “I couldn’t be more pleased with a basketball team, considering where we started and I knew we would struggle because we were 18 and 19-year old kids trying to play a man’s game. And we grew. Ownership was patient, they let me and my staff continue to teach a system I believe in and now we see the benefits.”

Woody said matching last season’s victory total isn’t enough. Winning the division would be something to talk about. That’s likely not going to happen so the Hawks …

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Hawks squawks: Hawks 86, Magic 84

Greetings, all-

some quick thoughts -

- One of the plays of the game was Dwight Howard’s getting called for a moving screen on Jamal Crawford in the first quarter. Howard was having his way to that point and the Hawks looked tentative. It was 20-10 near the end of the first quarter. By the time he got back in, with 9:34 to go in the second, it was 24-23 and the Hawks had some confidence going.

- I’m with Najeh. The Hawks defended the 3-pointer better and the numbers would indicate as much. The Magic came into the game on a roll from 3-point range and shot 6 for 21. Howard got his – 19 points, 24 (!) rebounds – but he had to work for it. He was 4 for 11 from the field and went to the line 16 times.

Al Horford: “We did a good job on him tonight. We made him work, earn most of the stuff he got. But he’s an All-Star player, so he’s going to go out there and get his.”

- I echo some of the questions about why Jason Collins didn’t play. It seemed like a spot where he would have been …

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Atlanta Hawks: On Magic Tricks and Josh’s Jumpers

Nice write-up by Ken S. today on the Hawks’ issues stopping Dwight Howard and the Magic. Also a compelling counterpoint at Hoopinion (thanks to commenter GMAN013 for pointing it out) stating that the Hawks’ problems against the Magic have “less to do with defensive game plans than Atlanta’s complete and utter inability to score against the Magic.”

Josh Smith shooting from where he's most effective. (Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com)

Josh Smith shooting from where he’s most effective. (Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com)

But instead of adding my two cents to those takes, I’m going back to something I wrote about on Monday and have been trying to get my head around since. Why does Smoove continue to take jump shots when he’s only making them at a 37 percent clip at 28.3 effective field-goal percentage? Emailer Aaron, citing Hoopdata.com, broke it down even further: “Josh Smith is shooting 28.5% (28% after the Bucks game) on jumpshots in the 16-23 feet range. His career 3 pt% is 26.6%, meaning the decision to take long 2pt jumpshots over 3pt shots has cost the …

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