Ken here for the last time in awhile as MC braces for the mother of all road trips.
1) You may find this interesting. On my way in to the arena, I was thinking to myself, If I were ever to feel good about wagering on a game (not that I wager), this would be it. Hawks have spent three days stewing over an embarrassing loss, playing at home where they’ve beaten Charlotte seven in a row, Al Horford back, Charlotte coming off a back to back, etc.
However, I confess I was not aware of what happened in Charlotte last night. The Bobcats lost at home to New Jersey, which had come into the game having lost 12 in a row on the road. Not only that, but Charlotte never led the whole game.
Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace excoriated their teammates for their lack of effort. Read these gems, excerpted from the Charlotte Observer game story (written by the very capable Rick Bonnell, who is sitting behind me in the media room):
“To not even show up at all is embarrassing,” said Jackson (21 points). “It’s sad that a coach has to ask guys to play hard…to care.”
“We acted like the other team was just going to fall down. There are only two or three teams in the league (good enough) that they can be like that. We’re not one of them.”
Or as Wallace (20 points and nine rebounds) added, “We just gave away a game in Indiana (Wednesday). We can’t keep doing that.
“We haven’t lost two (straight) games; we gave them away with our (lack of) effort. A coach should never have to ask for that.”
So, rather than being a gut-check game for one team, it’s a gut-check game for both. I still give the edge to the Hawks by basis of rest, being at home and the fact that they’re better, but this could be a bit more of a fight than you normally see in February.
2) This sort of feeds into 1), and is kind of amusing. I was in the locker room prior to the game, and it came to light that Wallace, from tiny Childersburg, Ala., bought 80 tickets for the game. Apparently even the mayor is coming. So Marvin Williams kiddingly wished Josh Smith good luck in defending a presumably extra-motivated Wallace. (Childersburg’s website claims it’s the “oldest city in America.” Not sure how that’s possible, but, hey, who am I to argue?
3) Nothing else new to report, really. Horford’s still going.
Enjoy the game.