Archive for October, 2010

Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 99, Wizards 95

Iso-Joe was OK tonight. (Hyosub Shin/ hshin@ajc.com)

Iso-Joe was OK tonight. (Hyosub Shin/ hshin@ajc.com)

– The Hawks are 3-0. Whatever their flaws, they can can take comfort in the fact that they have J.J. and Jamal to make something happen when all else fails.

– J.J. wasn’t hitting early, even when he went to the basket. Then he went off for 14 points in the fourth quarter. “He’s our guy,” L.D. said. “We rely on him a lot down the stretch. I told him I don’t want him to get discouraged. We put the ball in his hands at the end of games.”

– Joe made two iso jumpers that gave the Hawks the final spark they needed. “Joe Johnson hit some tough shots tonight,” Wiz rookie John Wall said. “That’s why he got paid this summer.”

– The Hawks called it a sellout at Philips but the seats weren’t full. Still, it was a pretty good crowd that stayed into it even when the Hawks were dragging. Said J.J.: “It was great to see everybody come out and show their support. We appreciate that.”

– The Hawks wouldn’t have been in position to win if …

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Atlanta Hawks: Wizards at Hawks

There’s one topic that is always sure to prompt an eye roll from L.D.

“You just had to ask me, didn’t you?” he said.

Well, Smoove keeps taking long jump shots, he keeps missing them (2 for 11 from 16 to 23 feet) so, yes, the question still gets asked.

And L.D. keeps having the conversation with Josh where he tells him: Yes, I know your stroke looks better but you are a good post player so don’t settle for jumpshots, particuarly early in the shot clock.

“I told him I am going to stay on him about it,” L.D. said. “He can’t put himself in those type situations. He’s got to learn from it. The one thing I want him to do going into every game is I want him to establish himself inside first. He’s got the script flipped. I will continue to work with him on it.”

But how does L.D. reconcile his wish for Josh to stop taking jumpers with that 3-pointer he buried to help put away the Sixers last night?

“How can you? I’m going to be honest, I have no idea,” Drew said. “That was a huge shot …

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Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 104, Sixers 101

Proof the Hawks did in fact play some D. (AP Photo)

Proof the Hawks did in fact play some D. (AP Photo)

Philadelphia–It didn’t take long for the same old Hawks to make an appearance. Well, that’s not quite right because they did pull out the victory after trying to give it away, but you know what I mean: Stagnant offense, careless turnovers, poor shot selection, awful transition D, lack of poise . . .

– “It was a little flash of what we were doing last year,” Al said.

– — “We just kind of made some boneheaded plays down the stretch, with me leading the pack definitely,” J.J. said. “We’ve got to know the time and the score. In the fourth quarter, under five minutes [to play], we’ve really got to take care of the ball. That’s on me.”

– Instead of going with motion sets late, L.D. kept calling for Bibby to set a pick so J.J. could end up with a mismatch on Lou Williams. That led to a lot of standing around for J.J.’s teammates and a critical turnover when Williams poked away the ball and Nocioni scored on a fastbreak.

– “We’ve …

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Atlanta Hawks: Hawks at Sixers and Al Horford’s big contract weekend

So with three days until the deadline, what’s going to happen with Al’s contracts extension? It apparently epends on where you read it.

Last week, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported a deal was “probable” despite “persistent chatter in recent days that Horford and the Hawks have made little recent progress in negotiations.” I’m guessing the “persistent chatter” might have something to do with Horford himself saying a couple weeks ago there had been no movement. That really wasn’t such a big deal since there was plenty of time left for a deal (the bigger deal would have been if the sides weren’t talking) but for some reason that note caused a bit of a stir.

A few days ago NBA.com’s David Aldridge reported it was 50-50 the Hawks and Horford would reach an agreement. But yesterday CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger called the chances of a Horford extension “a long shot at best.”

Berger also reported “a person familiar with the discussions told CBSSports.com that talks are scheduled this week …

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Mo Evans is out

Just one game into the season and Atlanta’s amazingly good luck with injuries looks to be running out.

First, there were the nagging injuries to several players that contributed to a lackluster preseason (and which subsequently seemed moot after Atlanta’s season-opening W) but there were no major issues. Now Mo Evans is back in Atlanta to have his right knee drained and will miss “several days of action,” according to the team.

The knee has been troublesome for Mo since last season, when he said he played through the pain. After starting summer workouts, he said he “felt something quirky going on” with the knee but he and Hawks trainer Wally Blase decided to wait a couple weeks “to see if it heals itself.”

“In hindsight we wish we could have gotten those three or four weeks back because moving into training camp I would have been able to go full go,” Mo said the other day.

Evans tried to push the knee too soon during camp–he said his competitiveness made him want to get out …

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Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 119, Grizzlies 104

Hawks executed L.D.'s blueprint to near-perfection. (AP Photo)

Hawks executed L.D.’s blueprint to near-perfection. (AP Photo)

MemphisSmoove said it before and I didn’t believe him. After what has to be considered a smashing debut for L.D.’s Hawks, Josh said it again: “Preseason is preseason. That’s what people have got to realize.”

– It didn’t take long for me to get the message. I think it happened around the time I realized J.J. wasn’t hitting, Al hadn’t scored and yet the Hawks were in control. On the road, even.

– “Give credit to the Atlanta Hawks and our coach,” J.J. said. “We were poised tonight. We made plays when we needed to.”

– Everyone who played for the Hawks did something good. That’s what it tends to look like when the bench has 50 points, 19 rebounds, 12 free throws and makes 18 of 34 shots. It looked like a bona fide 10-man rotation for the Hawks.

– The starters got to chill for long periods because the bench was beating the Grizzlies. “It’s outstanding any time they can give the starters a rest and be focused,” Josh …

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Atlanta Hawks: Hawks at Grizzlies

Memphis–Finally, the games are for real.

Got to see at least some hints about L.D.’s offensive and defensive approaches during the preseason. The one thing that’s still a big mystery is how he will distribute the minutes because (stop me if you’ve heard this one) the injuries made a mess of the rotation.

The Miami game provided the best clue but it wasn’t definitive, unless you somehow think Jamal is going to play just 19 minutes per night.

“I have kind of got an idea of how many I want my starters to play and the guys off the bench,” L.D. said. “I don’t want to wear guys down. I will scale back on a couple starters who played I thought too many minutes in the past. I certainly want to utilize my bench more.”

Like everything else L.D. is trying to do, it remains to be seen if his wishes will match up with reality. He’s committed to going deep in his bench but that means five reserves are going to have to be consistent contributors.

J.J. is all for reduced wear and tear. He …

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Atlanta Hawks: Offense will be fine . . . defense will define

Despite some of the uncertainty surrounding the Hawks on the eve of the regular season, I think they they will end up being very good again offensively.

The Hawks must be about D. (Curtis Compton/ ccompton@ajc.com)

The Hawks must be about D. (Curtis Compton/ ccompton@ajc.com)

There’s the talent, of course. J.J., Jamal, Al, and Josh will score. I think all are willing to share the ball, including J.J. When the motion breaks down or when the Hawks play more traditional sets (which they still will do a large percentage of the time), J.J. and Jamal can score with the best of them.

The preseason turnovers were a function of playing too fast in transition and trying to figure out all the “reads” that are part of L.D.’s motion offense. Once they get a feel for the latter, I think the Hawks will be tough to guard late in games. You could see it at times when the regulars were playing together. The open shots were there. It looked really good.

With more motion sets Bibby won’t just be standing on the weakside watching and he’s so good at …

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Atlanta Hawks: Down to the wire for Al Horford extension

Horford trying to become third Class of '07 draft pick to secure extension.

Horford trying to become third Class of ‘07 draft pick to secure extension.

One thing I’ve noticed about Al Horford when talking to him about his contract extension is he really doesn’t seem to get caught up in the particulars of agent Arn Tellem’s negotiations with the Hawks. That hasn’t changed now that there’s just one week left for an agreement to be reached.

Horford said the Hawks told Tellem they want to wait until the end of the week to meet about the extension. If no deal is reached by the end of business next Monday, then Horford would become a restricted free agent next summer once the Hawks extended him a qualifying offer by June 30.

“I kind of have thought this all along, but I think it really is going to come down to the last day,” Horford said.

Only two 2007 draftees have secured extensions so far: No. 2 overall pick Kevin Durant received a five-year, $85 million deal from Oklahoma City and Horford’s former Florida teammate and friend Joakim Noah, the No. 9 …

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Atlanta Hawks: Parsing some previews

Almost time to tip off. (Curtis Compton/ ccompton@ajc.com)

Almost time to tip off. (Curtis Compton/ ccompton@ajc.com)

No practice for the Hawks today. The AJC Hawks preview is at . . . newsstands . . . today! Run out and buy it! Please?

Meanwhile, here are some previews from around the InterWebs, each with a brief highlight and my comment:

Peachtree Hoops

They previewed the Hawks back on Oct. 12.

THHB says 50-32: “I am sensing change won’t be the magic elixir for playoff excellence, given Joe getting a year older and an inevitable dip in team fortune in regards to injury, but it will be enough for a back-to-back 50 win campaigns and grab the home court once again.”

KW says 52-30: While the mounting injuries are of a major concern to me, I do think that the way this team is being written off is premature. Are they a championship contender? Probably not, but there may be only two or three of those in the Eastern Conference and the Hawks are still right at the top of the rest of the pack. I am going back to back 50 win seasons and a top …

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