Archive for November, 2010

Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 113, Timberwolves 103

Josh Smith did it all against the T-Wolves. (AP Photo)

Josh Smith did it all against the T-Wolves. (AP Photo)

–Maybe the Grizzlies make the playoffs in the West if everyone stays healthy (have you seen their bench?). Perhaps the Wizards sneak into the East playoffs if Arenas ever gets his body and mind right. Cleveland, Philly, Detroit and Minnesota are not very good.

– So no one is saying the Hawks have run through a gauntlet of good teams while starting 6-0, and that includes the Hawks: “I don’t know if we’ve played any playoff teams,” J.J. said, “but a win is a win.”

– Besides, as Al noted, there’s another side to the “haven’t played anyone” coin: “Last year we gave up games like this to teams that didn’t make the playoffs. We are heading in the right direction, and it’s good to see.”

– It was the Hawks’ sixth consecutive road victory dating to last season. The Hawks have had only three longer road streaks in franchise history: eight games spanning the 1966-67 and 1967-68 seasons and seven games in both 1968-69 and 1993-94.

– …

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Atlanta Hawks at Timberwolves: Twin is in

MinneapolisL.D. wants to go big against the T-Wolves. He didn’t want J.J. to have to check Beasley. And with Jamal available to play he wanted to keep the usual second unit intact.

The result: Jason Collins will start at center tonight against the T-Wolves.

“I think I am accomplishing two things with Marvin being out,” L.D. said. “One, [avoiding] having to possibly moving one of my first three reserves into a starting role. And the other matching up with them at the three spot. Moving Jason in keeps the reserves in their normal rotation, and then we are able to keep match up with Beasley.”

Collins last started a game on April 15, 2009 when he played for the Timberwolves. He draws Darko Milicic tonight.

Jamal went through the walkthrough today and told L.D. he feels good.

“If it starts to bother him any, I will pull him back or remove him from the game completely,” Drew said.

R-E-B-O-U-N-D

Minnesota is tied for fifth in offensive rebounding rate and No. 1 in offensive …

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Atlanta Hawks: Josh Smith is not on trading block

Smoove isn't leaving the Highlight Factory anytime soon. (Hyosub Shin / hshin@ajc.com)

Smoove isn’t leaving the Highlight Factory anytime soon. (Hyosub Shin / hshin@ajc.com)

I haven’t said much about the Josh Smith trade rumors because there’s nothing to them. You can guess how well that approach worked.

It started with Chard Ford’s ESPN.com blog post, which he based on league GMs looking at Atlanta’s roster and speculating that ASG can’t afford to keep Josh, J.J., Al, and Marvin together after this season (Rick Sund said he never heard from Ford).

That led to more speculation but still not much in the way of hard news. And as these things tend to go, the secondhand speculation aspect of the original “story” gets lost and suddenly the rumor is the Hawks are looking to move Smoove. (Rule of thumb in these cases: Beware the question mark headline.)

It’s not true. Sund didn’t want to comment on the rumors, which is his usual policy, but Smoove confirmed that team management reassured him he’s not on the trading block.

“They didn’t need to,” he said. “Some people …

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Atlanta Hawks: Drew faces ‘dilemma’ with Marvin and Mo out

Marvin Williams thinks he could return Sunday vs. the Suns. (Hyosub Shin / hshin@ajc.com)

Marvin Williams thinks he could return Sunday vs. the Suns. (Hyosub Shin / hshin@ajc.com)

Marvin is to get an MRI on his right knee today. He’s not making the trip to Minnesota. Neither is Mo (knee).

“It puts us in a little bit of a dilemma because both of our threes are out,” L.D. said.

Jamal (toe) will be on the team flight today but he’s questionable. Even if he plays, L.D. said he’s leaning against putting him in the starting lineup.

“Him off the bench just gives us such a weapon,” he said. ” If I don’t have to disrupt that, I don’t want to.”

So what are his options with the starting lineup?

“I am looking at different things. I am looking at Minnesota and because they have such a big lineup with Beasley, Milicic and Love, I may have to go bigger at the three. If Jamal is at the two, and Joe is at the three, then Joe has to guard Beasley, and I don’t want that.”

Translation: The likely starting lineup will be Bibby, Joe, Smoove, Al and Zaza. That’s how the Hawks finished …

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Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 94, Pistons 85

Zaza gave the bench a lift with Jamal out. (Hyosub Shin / hshin@ajc.com)

Zaza gave the bench a lift with Jamal out. (Hyosub Shin / hshin@ajc.com)

– The Hawks shot 54 percent from the field against the Pistons. “We did?” Al said, incredulous.

– You can see why he’s surprised. Despite pretty much everyone but J.J. making shots, Atlanta had to be nearly perfect in the final six minutes to beat hapless Detroit. The reasons: 17 offensive rebounds for Detroit, leading to 16 second-chance points. “We were a little careless in that area, and it almost cost us the game,” Horford said.

– Yet, and so far there’s always a “yet” with this team, the Hawks overcame all they did wrong by getting themselves right at the end. That’s been the theme early in the season. “We’re not going to go out and blow out a lot of people,” L.D. said. “We have to learn how to win at the end. Sometimes it’s going to be pretty, sometimes it’s going to be ugly but we have to win in those types of situations.”

– This one actually ended up being pretty at the end. During that 18-4 …

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Pistons at Atlanta Hawks: Teague and the (new) Rook’

Just four games into the season and there are some sure signs that Teague has graduated from Rook’ to rotation guy and the new Rook’, JC2, likely is going to have to go through much the same thing as Teague did last season.

First on Teague: Did you see how he checked in at Cleveland in the third quarter last just after the Cavs took their first lead since the first?

“I was kind of shocked, to be honest,” he said. “When I subbed in, we were up two. I thought he was going to pull me back and say, ‘Let Mike play,’ but he told me to go in. That made me want to go out there and play even harder knowing that he believed in me. I’m glad we came back and pulled out a victory.”

Teague almost immediately missed a bad jump but he stayed in the game. He missed two more jumpers near the end of the period yet no one went to the scorer’s table to replace him. Teague didn’t come out until 6:19 of the fourth quarter, by which time he’d contributed a block, steal and a couple free throws while …

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Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 100, Cavaliers 88

Hawks are 4-0. (AP Photo)

Hawks are 4-0. (AP Photo)

– The Hawks keep squandering leads to teams with less talent but they keep winning games.

– “We are handling situations better,” Al said. “Last year this would have been a game we let slip away. We feel confident. We are going to keep working to get better. We still have a ways to go.”

– Even so they are 4-0, 3-0 on the road and showing that they can be very difficult to guard when they share the ball and take care of it. Maybe it won’t be so easy once opponents start catching on to these new-look Hawks (and when the opponents get better). Or maybe the Hawks get better at running L.D’s motion sets and their balance and talent still win out.

– “Our guys are starting to buy into it and they are really playing together and they are playing very unselfish,” Drew said. “If they continue to do that, they will spread the wealth among the points. The feel of it right now that I am getting from the players is they are really starting to feel good about …

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Atlanta Hawks at Cavaliers: Larry Drew’s closing case

ClevelandLarry Drew has favored a fourth-quarter lineup with Bibby at point guard, Jamal at shooting guard and J.J. at small forward along with Josh and Al. (The exception was the opener at Memphis, when the Hawks had a makehshift crew finish the blowout victory).

A lineup that includes both Bibby and Jamal can’t be considered one with a focus on defense and rebounding, two areas where L.D. says he’s looking for more from the Hawks. And when I asked L.D. why he favors that lineup late in games, he didn’t talk about defense.

“Jamal is a shot maker,” he said. “Bibby is a shot maker. You know teams are going to double-team Joe so you’ve got to have shot makers out there with him.”

But can the Hawks get enough defense and rebounding out of that group?

“In the scheme of things, I think we can,” L.D. said. “With Joe playing some three, I’m confident with his D against threes. Jamal at the two, I am trying to get him to be more conscience about rebounding. Not necessarily going in …

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Atlanta Hawks: What they are saying about Al Horford’s deal

A look around the Inter Webs at some early reaction to Al’s $60 million contract extension. Pretty much everyone praised the deal while simultaneously taking shots at J.J.’s contract. . .

AJC wise guy Jeff Schultz says the Hawks got it right:

“When the Hawks announced that they had made Joe Johnson the highest-paid player in the NBA, we all waited for the punchline.

Tuesday, the Hawks announced Al Horford has agreed to a five-year extension worth $60 million. This news isn’t deserving of a punchline — it’s deserving of a parade.

Horford is more than just a talented player. He is an All-Star center even though power forward is his stronger and more natural position. He is a building block unlike any building block the Hawks have had for several years. He is a leader. He has substance.”

At Peachtree Hoops, readers are overwhelmingly approving the deal, with “Awesome! ATL! ATL!” leading the poll by a landslide.

ESPN.com’s Chad Ford focuses on Atlanta’s finances, saying Al’s …

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Atlanta Hawks: Hawks, Horford agree to 5-year, $60 million contract extension

The Hawks and Al Horford have agreed to a 5-year, $60 million contract extension.

Atlanta’s All-Star center and his agent, Arn Tellem, met with the team this afternoon finalize the deal, which also is expected to include performance incentives. The sides had until the end of business today to reach an agreement or Horford would have become a restricted free agent next summer.

“It happened like I’ve been predicting–down to the wire,” Horford said today after practice. “When we finally kind of agreed on everything, I was super excited.”

Horford’s deal is similar to the contract extension signed by Bulls center Joakim Noah, whom he teamed with to win two NCAA championships at the University of Florida. The Hawks selected Horford with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2007 draft while Noah was picked No. 9 by Chicago.

The Hawks and Tellem opened negotiations at the start of training camp but there was little movement in talks as recently as two weeks ago. With the deadline …

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