Archive for February, 2011

Horford in lineup for Saturday night

After missing two games with a back injury, Hawks center Al Horford will play Saturday night against the Charlotte Bobcats at Philips Arena. Horford took part in the team’s morning shootaround and pronounced himself ready to go.

“I went out there and tested it out and I feel good for tonight,” he said.

Horford injured his lower back when he fell hard after getting fouled by the Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin and landed on his back in the Hawks’ Feb. 4 win at Philips.

“Just his presence means all the world to us,” coach Larry Drew said.

Horford missed the team’s win over Washington last Saturday and its 34-point loss to Philadelphia on Tuesday. Horford sat out of Thursday’s practice and then took in part in non-contact portions of the team’s practice Friday.

“It’s been a little better each day, and today’s the best I’ve felt since it happened,” said Horford, recently named to his second All-Star team.

Horford will start at forward as the Hawks will go with their “big” …

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Horford still sore, Hawks lineup changes on hold

- Al Horford said that, as of Thursday, he isn’t planning on playing Saturday. Said Horford, “It’s not really getting any better.” Horford tried to shoot at Thursday’s practice, but was still sore. He’ll give it another try Friday.

- Horford’s injury will preclude coach Larry Drew from implementing any lineup changes that he has talked about since the 34-point loss to Philadelphia Tuesday. “It is definitely still weighing on my mind,” Drew said. “The decision has not been made yet.” The team scrimmaged but didn’t have any out-of-the-ordinary lineups, Mo Evans said.

- Drew said the team is not actively pursuing a trade but is in a stance of keeping its ears open. Said Drew, “We’ll continue to talk about different things, look if there’s something that could potentially make us even a better ballclub.”

- If Drew was using his public comments about making lineup changes or considering a trade to get his team’s attention, it apparently wasn’t entirely effective. When the topic was …

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Atlanta Hawks: Larry Drew says lineup change, trades may be needed to disrupt team’s ‘comfort zone’

Larry Drew looking to upset team's 'comfort zone' (UPI Photo)

Larry Drew looking to upset team’s ‘comfort zone’ (UPI Photo)

In the immediate aftermath of another home beatdown, L.D. sounded the alarm about the Hawks and said changes to his starting lineup may be in order.

But after sleeping on it, watching the game video and holding a team meeting this morning. . . well, L.D. basically turned up the volume on the alarm. He said he’s still looking at changing the starting lineup and added that a trade might be necessary before the Feb. 24 deadline to shake up the status-quo.

It seems that team meeting didn’t go as Drew had hoped. He said he asked every player and coach why the Hawks seem to play with more urgency on the road. There were a variety of answers, Drew said, but he concluded the Hawks too often fall into a “comfort zone . . . a safe zone” at Philips.

So Drew has that in mind as he looks at possibly changing up his starters.

“Just to give us a jolt,” he said. “Just to get us out of a comfort zone. We are 50-plus games into the …

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Atlanta Hawks: ‘Good’ teams don’t take ugly home Ls like this

Last night on Twitter during the game and in the post-game blog I mentioned that good teams just don’t take home beatdowns on the regular like the Hawks.

Shoot, remember a few days ago when Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak was talking about shaking up his roster?. That was after the Lakers took a 16-point home loss . . . to the Celtics:

“I try to be as objective as possible, but I’m concerned that our performance is not living up to our talent level,” Kupchak said at the time. “Our record is certainly OK. But we’ve lost a bunch of home games. We’ve lost a couple of big games at home. And to me, those are red flags.”

The red flags are waving for the Hawks after yet another white-flag surrender at Philips. Elias Sports Bureau provides the dirty details (second item, though let the “crowning achievement” in the lead headline serve as a bitterly sarcastic taunt of the Hawks):

There have been three games this season in which the home team lost by at least 30 points, and the Atlanta Hawks …

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Atlanta Hawks: Sixers 117, Hawks 83

  • “I could have never imagined that kind of win tonight,” said Sixers coach Doug Collins, who apparently hasn’t watched the Hawks very much.
  • Perhaps this a chicken-and-egg thing for the Hawks. Do they just not care enough to play better than this against an opponent they eclipse in talent, or do they just look like they don’t care when they can’t play better than this against an opponent they eclipse in talent?
  • L.D. seemed to think it was more of the former after another home surrender:
  • “It is just totally unacceptable to come out and play with that type energy, that type so-called passion, to play almost as if they don’t care. And that’s a reflection of me. If that’s the case, then I am going to have to make some changes to my starting lineup. I’ve seen that way too often and if that’s the way we are going to start basketball games, I am not going to sit here and take it I am going to make some changes.”
  • Which of course begs the question: Which changes could he possibly make …

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Sixers at Atlanta Hawks: No Horford, no gimme vs. ‘dangerous team’

Before the Hawks played the Knicks a couple weekends back, L.D. put 7-2 out there as the record to shoot for before the All-Star break. So I told him the Hawks had to win three of their next four to get it.

“We want 8-1,” he said, smiling.

This game might have looked like a gimme at one point but not anymore. For one thing, Al is sitting out another game with the bruised back. Zaza is starting in his place.

L.D. said Al ended up deciding his back was better off not taking a pounding. Plus, the Hawks don’t play again until Saturday.

“I actually gave it some thought this morning even before he made his decision,” L.D. said. “Certainly I want him out there but if there is any kind of inkling about him having any kind of discomfort or concern about [if] his back can take the pounding it just makes more sense to keep him out. He gets another four days for treatment and rest.”

So playing without their All-Star center complicates things for the Hawks. Also, don’t forget the Hawks …

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Atlanta Hawks: Al Horford (back) says he plans to play tonight. vs. Sixers (Update: Horford out)

Hawks center Al Horford said he plans to play against Philly at Philips tonight, four days after he crashed to the floor in a collision with Clippers rookie Blake Griffin.

(UPDATE: Drew said in pregame that Horford is out.)

“I think I should be OK for the game,” Horford said after participating in shootaround this morning. “I think as long as I go out there and feel OK and I feel right, I think you can play through some pain. I’m actually encouraged [because the play] looked really bad. But fortunately it is not nothing serious on my back or anything.”

Horford missed Atlanta’s game at Washington on Saturday and didn’t practice Monday. He’s missed two other games this season, sitting out games against New Orleans and Charlotte last month with a sprained ankle.

“I think he has a high tolerance for pain,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. “But there are a number of guys that are like that. There are some players that can play through being hurt versus being injured. Obviously if you …

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Atlanta Hawks: Is Bibby beat down?

The calendar says Bibby will be 33 in May, so he’s still a young man in the real world. But in NBA terms, it means Bibby is in the twilight of a distinguished career that is at 1013 games (including playoffs) and counting.

The numbers say Bibby’s offensive production and efficiency have fallen off as the season grows longer, even when viewing them in the narrow context of his role as a spot-up shooter. That suggests that Bibby might be wearing down as the season approaches the All-Star break.

Even Bibby, not one to usually give much credence to his age as a limiting factor, acknowledges that he doesn’t quite have the same bounce at this time of year as seasons past.

“It’s different,” he said. “I can definitely feel . . . I am not going to say I feel my age. Because what I still do out there is I’ve catered myself to the roll of taking care of the team and making sure everybody is doing what they need to be doing and making sure they have fun and do what it takes to win.”

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Hawks 99, Wizards 92

Greetings-

A good enough effort, with a strong game from Josh Smith, did the job against Washington.

A couple numbers jump out – first, the Hawks were 26 for 35 from the free-throw line, while the Wizards were 8 for 18. I think Washington got a little jobbed with foul calls, but, regardless, 35 free throws says something about a team’s aggressiveness in going to the basket, something we haven’t seen a ton of on a consistent basis lately.

Hawks free throws for the last 10 games – 12, 20, 14, 11, 23, 23, 23, 22, 9, 13. Notably, the Hawks took (and made) 13 free throws in the fourth, when in recent games they’ve resorted to jump shots. I’m going to guess that’s a season high for the fourth quarter.

“Going down the stretch, we talked about it being a possession game, meaning on every possession we’ve got to come away with the shot that we want,” Larry Drew said.

- Terrific game from Smith. He played well in the post, taking Andray Blatche’s lunch money, and I thought was pretty …

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Hawks-Wizards game thread

Greetings, all-

Ken Sugiura sitting in for MC, who is at home celebrating his birthday. A few notes prior to Hawks-Wizards, or the basketball Super Bowl, as I like to call it.

1) Al Horford is not playing. He tested out his back after getting to the arena, but decided against it. Zaza Pachulia will go at 5, Josh Smith at 4, Marvin Williams at 3, Joe Johnson at 2, Mike Bibby at 1. He said he’ll be ready to go Tuesday for Philadelphia.

2) Larry Drew, not surprisingly, talked about the importance of containing Wizards rookie John Wall, remarking at his baseline to baseline speed. Bibby will start out on Wall, which will obviously be a bit of a test for Bibby.

3) Hawks have won 11 in a row against Washington.

4) Courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau via ESPN, Jamal Crawford’s 34-point game against the Clippers last night gave him three 30-point games off the bench for the season. No one else has more than one this season.

5) Wizards’ lineup: JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche, Rashard Lewis, …

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