Archive for March, 2010

Atlanta Hawks at Heat, AKA A Good Talking To

Back on the beat (thanks to Ken for holding it down) to find things a bit different than when I left. The Hawks continue to win but they are doing it with consistent contributions from Marvin, Bibby and Zaza. That shouldn’t be a surprise since all three have shown they can play. It’s great timing, though. The Hawks are a much better team if those guys keep answering some of these question marks down the stretch.

Those three also happen to be guys Woody met with individually over the last week or so for candid discussions. His message?

“Pick it up, and quit succumbing and going through the motions like you don’t want to be out there,” Woody said. “They are starting to do that and they are going to have to continue to do it.”

If Bibby scores 10 points tonight it will be the first time since Nov. 29 he’s broken double figures in three straight games. That was back when he was playing heavier minutes.

Marvin says he has his “mojo” back. I knew something was up when he bucked up …

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Hawks squawks: Hawks 127, Warriors 122

1. The Hawks fell for Golden State’s freestyle game but managed to pull it out. As for the “the Hawks shouldn’t let a team like Golden State stay in the game” logic, consider that the Warriors have beaten Dallas, Phoenix and Boston, lost by a point to Denver on the road and by three to Cleveland. True, given the way steam seemed to be coming out of the Hawks’ ears in the run-up to the game, I would have thought it would be an easier win. But, sometimes they come ugly.

2. Give the Hawks some points for winning a high-scoring game with Joe Johnson going 3-for-14 – he was apparently not feeling well – and Jamal Crawford off his game with a sprained right thumb. He said it got pulled back as he was going for a ball early in the game, and the injury affected him the rest of the way, which was why he took just 13 shots. (Note to Section 303 – I’m giving the Hawks credit for dealing with their own handicaps.)

By the looks of it, Jamal’s injury may linger.

Jamal and Joe didn’t make a …

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Hawks tidbits, flotsam, trivia

Greetings, all-

Hope you are doing well. Got a couple tidbits for you.

1. Mike Woodson’s reaction to Zydrunas Ilgauskas‘ decision to return to the Cavaliers, as reported by Michael Cunningham.

For a certain bald Lithuanian, the hat says it all.

For a certain bald Lithuanian, the hat says it all.

“He was a guy that I wanted desperately and [Atlanta Spirit owners] listened and they pursued, but he decided to go back to Cleveland, which we thought he would. We’ve just got to continue with what we have and see what happens with our ballclub.”

Interesting that he would be so open in his pining for “Z.” Smart move on Woody’s part to tip his cap to the owners.

2. Golden State coach Don Nelson on closing in on former Hawks coach Lenny Wilkens for most all-time wins. Nelson needs seven to pass Wilkens.

Nelson: “[Wilkens] was my idol ever since I started coaching. I was a very rough coach when I first started. Very demanding, did a lot of yelling and screaming, and I actually changed my demeanor after 10, 12 years. I was trying to be …

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Ilgauskas “impressed” with Hawks but plans to return to Cleveland

The agent for Zyrdunas Ilgauskas confirmed today that Big Z plans to return to the Cavaliers, ending the Hawks’ pursuit of the 7-foot-3 center.

“He was very impressed by the (Hawks’) efforts to sign him,” agent Herb Rudoy wrote in a text message. “He spoke to a couple of (Hawks) players and was really encouraged by them to play in Atlanta. At the end his long relationship with the Cavs won out.”

Rudoy said Ilgauskas would return to Cleveland “if a suitable contract can be agreed upon” when negotiations can officially start on March 22 but Ilgauskas obviously wouldn’t wait around that long if there were any chance a deal won’t be reached. Ilgauskas must wait until 30 days after Cleveland traded him to re-sign with the team.

Ilgauskas is the only free agent the Hawks were considering for their 14th roster spot. Barring injury, the Hawks plan to carry the league minimum 13 players for the rest of the season.

MC

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Not the Real MC: Hawks Squawks: Hawks 112, Sixers 93

1. You know him, you love him, you call for him to be traded – Marvin had a second strong game in a row.

Some Marvin-centric chatter:

Al Horford: “Everybody goes through struggles. It feels good to see Marvin be Marvin. Hopefully, he keeps this level of intensity up.” (Al has the gift of being able to pump up his teammates while not going overboard.)

Mike Woodson: “He’s had two solid games and we need Marvin to play that way. It takes so much pressure off of everybody when he’s scoring and rebounding the ball and defending like he was defending tonight. It’s nice to see. I’ve just got to push him to continue to play that way.”

From the man of the hour: “I’m trying to play with energy, trying to stay active. I think when I stay active, especially when I’m rebounding the basketball, I do a lot better personally and I help the team.”

2. Louis Williams lit up the Hawks. He made his first 10 attempts and finished with 30 points. I don’t know if you all care much for local players – …

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Have fun with this, Hawks fans. Please?

Smoove is having fun. So should you. (Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com)

Smoove is having fun. So is that guy back there in the sweater. You should, too. (Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com)

I admit it: I’ve been in micro-mode too much lately. All this talk about isos, switching D and Woody’s pleas and I’ve neglected the big picture story sitting right there in the standings. So let’s forget examining the Hawks’ warts with a microscope for a minute and acknowledge that it’s March and they are in a good, old-fashioned race for the division title.

The Hawks are two games back of Orlando in the Southeast with 23 games to play. Boston is still hanging around at No. 3 in the East. Toronto has lost four straight and is no longer a concern to rise up. Cleveland is out of reach even with Shaq’s thumb surgery. The Hawks have a real chance to earn homecourt in the playoffs for two rounds. You might get an argument if you say they have a shot at the East finals but at least you wouldn’t be immediately shouted down with ridicule.

This is all supposed to be fun …

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Hawks Squawks: Hawks 116, Bulls 92

Chicago– If the Hawks came out with a focused effort, the Bulls didn’t have enough talent in uniform to handle them. That was no sure thing after the Hawks went overtime with the Bucks last night. But the Hawks jumped the Bulls early and then held them off when they tried to rally behind Derrick Rose.

– “They were focused and locked in,” Woody said of his players. “We didn’t lose our composure. That’s a good sign after we played an overtime game last night. Back-to-backs are tough, especially on the road.”

– The Hawks could have relaxed after Luol Deng (knee) was a late scratch to join Joakim Noah (foot) on the injured list. Instead, they handled their business “You don’t want to have a letdown,” Josh said. “You can’t think this is a just a walk-over.”

– Smoove certainly didn’t play that way. He had nine points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal as the Hawks took a 27-17 lead. Final line: 17 points, 18 boards, four assists, two steals and all kinds of energy.

– “Smoove …

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Hawks at Bulls, AKA Big Ray and Woody’s Way

Salmons saw too much Iso-Joe. (Gregory Smith, AP)

Salmons saw too much Iso-Joe. (Gregory Smith, AP)

Big Ray brings the funk today with strong takes on iso and D. They are seemingly unrelated topics but I’m going to tie them together after taking a look at what he’s saying.

Ray observes that “the Hawks don’t seem to buy into the defensive precepts of Mike Woodson anymore.”

What happened? A team once known for getting wins by playing a suffocating defense, now finds itself as one of the more defensively inept teams in the league. Hawks commentator Bob (Rathburn Rathbun) noted that Atlanta is in the bottom third of the League in defense. Why? Is the defensive concept an issue? Are the players not listening to the coaching staff? Can it really be attributed fully to one or the other, or (solely) to any other theory?

First, let me say the Hawks aren’t quite that bad on D. If Rathburn Rathbun was referring to points allowed per game, the Hawks actually rank 12th at 97.3. I prefer to look at efficiency (points allowed per 100 …

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Late Hawks Squawks: Hawks 106, Bucks 102 (OT)

– The bottom line is the Hawks turned back a tough, scrappy opponent that came in a hot streak and avoided losing two straight at home for just the second time this season. “We all gutted it out,” Jamal said. “It was definitely intense and very physical out there.”

– So the bottom line looks good. Some of the other lines were ugly, though: 5 of 18 shooting in the fourth quarter, including 2 of 9 for J.J., 0 for 3 for Jamal and no shots at all in 11 minutes for Smoove.

– Basically, here’s how it went: bad Iso-Joe and the Hawks faltered, good Iso-Joe and they won.

– Fourth quarter Iso-Joe: fadeaway airball, missed 3-pointer, missed fadeaway, missed runner and the missed pull-up at the regulation buzzer. Overtime: 3-pointer, fadeaway jumper, baseline fadeaway, and a missed 21-footer.

– “When you get another chance you always want to come through,” J.J. said. “I wanted to make plays in that overtime to get us over the hump.”

– He shot 7 of 22 in regulation, 3 of 4 in overtime. …

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