Archive for April, 2012

Atlanta Hawks: Ivan Johnson ‘back to full status’

If you are wondering if things are all good as far as Ivan Johnson is concerned, consider the scene at the end of Hawks practice today.

“Hey, Ivan, did I shoot you out?” Larry Drew called out.

“I let you win,” Ivan responded.

Drew schooled Ivan in a game of H-O-R-S-E before practice, then afterwards said there would be no more discipline for the rookie’s verbal altercation with teammates during the Celtics game.

“He’s back to full status,” Drew said. “He came in and gave me a big hug this morning. I brought him in this morning and shot him out before we got started. He’s back on board.”

I know this is the kind of thing that inspires conspiracy theories among those who like to fashion the facts to fit their preferred narrative about Drew’s relationship with players. But there’s no evidence there will be any lingering fallout from this. Heck, Drew kept playing Josh Powell after he suspended him last season, and it’s not like Powell was giving the Hawks much.

Also remember that …

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Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 109, Magic 81

Vivlamore reporting from Orlando. Here is my game story from the Hawks’ 109-81 win over the Magic.

ORLANDO — The Magic can’t beat the Hawks with Dwight Howard.

Without the All-Star center, it’s just plain ugly.

The Hawks swept the season series from the Magic with a 109-81 drubbing Friday night at the Amway Center. It was a key Eastern Conference victory for the Hawks, who are a win away from clinching their fifth consecutive playoff berth.

The Hawks (35-24) took control of the fifth seed in the conference. They remain two games behind the Pacers for the third spot. Hosting a first-round series remains a real possibility.

The Hawks have seven regular-season games to play, six at home.

The Magic (34-25) have lost all three games to the Hawks this season. The first two losses, both in February, came by a combined five points. Without Howard, they never were in the game.

The Hawks, winners of nine of their past 13 games, were led by Jannero Pargo with 17 points off the …

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Atlanta Hawks at Magic: Game thread

Vivlamore reporting from Orlando.

ORLANDO – The Hawks are preparing for a less predictable Magic team tonight as Orlando will be playing without All-Star center Dwight Howard.

That could be an issue considering past games when the Hawks have, admittedly, relaxed with the opposition was without its star player.

“It’s really a fool’s gold type of game,” Willie Green said. “When a team doesn’t have their best player, the opposing team, which is us, seems to take them lightly. That is something we are careful about not doing. We want to come out and play a good all-around game and execute. They are still a good team without Dwight. Obviously they are a better team with him. We are looking to come in and be the best Atlanta Hawks team we can be.”

Remember the Hawks lost, at home, to the Dwyane Wade- and LeBron James-less Heat earlier this season.

“I think our mental approach has to be the same,” Marvin Williams said. “We have to be even more focused. In the past, when other team’s …

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Update II: Ivan Johnson sent home

Vivlamore reporting from Orlando.

ORLANDO — The Hawks sent forward Ivan Johnson back to Atlanta for conduct detrimental to the team.  Johnson, who was also fined an undisclosed amount, will miss tonight’s game against the Magic. Johnson was sent home for verbal altercation on the bench during Wednesday’s game against Boston. He did fly to Orlando from Boston with the team after the game before being sent home to Atlanta.

Johnson is expected to re-join the team Saturday for a scheduled practice.

Hawks coach Larry Drew declined to expand on the disciplinary action, or the reason for it, following this morning’s shoot-around.

“We made a decision to discipline him by sending him home, fining him and we will move on,” Drew said.

Johnson, a 27-year-old NBA rookie, has had issues in the past.

He washed out after one season of run-ins with coach Ernie Kent at Oregon. After one year at Division II Cal State-San Bernardino,  Johnson played a season in the NBA Development League …

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Atlanta Hawks: Celtics 88, Hawks 86 OT

Vivlamore reporting from Boston. Here is my updated game story, with quotes, from the Hawks’ overtime loss to the Celtics Wednesday.

BOSTON – The Hawks and Celtics went toe-to-toe for four quarters in playoff atmosphere Wednesday.

The Celtics barely delivered the final blow in overtime.

Boston outscored the Hawks 4-2 in the extra five minutes to record an 88-86 victory at an at-times thunderingly loud TD Garden.

The Celtics had the ball with the two-point lead and Paul Pierce was dribbling out what could have been the final seconds of the game. He made a move to the basket with 10.1 seconds left, but was called for an offensive foul with Josh Smith guarding. On the ensuing possession Smith missed with less than two seconds remaining, and the Celtics escaped.

“I don’t think we were very sharp in overtime,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. “We allowed their pressure to speed us up. We had some bad possessions in that overtime. We had some bad possessions going down the stretch of …

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Atlanta Hawks at Celtics: Game thread

Vivlamore reporting from Boston where the Hawks play the Celtics tonight at 8 p.m.

BOSTON – The Hawks did what they were supposed to do the past three games as they disposed of the sub-.500 Bobcats (twice) and Pistons.

Now, they face to biggest challenge of the season to this point in the Celtics.

In what would be a first-round playoff matchup if the postseason started today, the Hawks can accomplish two very important things tonight against the Celtics.

1. Prove they can beat the Celtics – one of the better teams in the NBA now that they are getting healthy.

2. Help their playoff position with nine regular-season games remaining – as they would rather open against either the Magic or the Pacers.

Regarding the first point, the Celtics defeated the Hawks 79-76 at Philips Arena earlier this season, albeit the Hawks had injuries and were playing their third game in four nights.

This is a Hawks team capable of beating the Bulls, Heat and Thunder. However, they’ve also lost against …

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Atlanta Hawks: Celtics pride

In my story for today’s AJC, I noted that it’s never opposing players who write off the Celtics as too old. Maybe that’s only because they don’t give a famously prickly Boston group any extra motivation but my feeling is it’s genuine respect (and wariness).

Marvin Williams seemed genuinely confused as to why anyone would say such a thing about a team with three shoo-in Hall of Famers and another player on track to follow them. LeBron James and Chris Bosh cited those credentials, too, when brushing off the washed up theory.

So if the Hawks end up drawing Boston in the playoffs, which is a very real possibility, it would set up an interesting series. And that’s not just because of the past skirmishes between these teams.

Remember, part of the Hawks’ rationale for keeping the proverbial “core” together for another run this year was because the owners and Rick Sund believed this group had built up some scar tissue from their past playoff failures. The Hawks are just 2-12 in the …

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Atlanta Hawks: On playoff seeding

Judging by the persistent questions from Tweeps, it seems there is some confusion about what happens if the No. 5 seed in the East finishes with a better record than the No. 4 seed. This is possible because division winners can finish no worse than No. 4. This season the No. 5 seed could very well have a better record than the Atlantic winner. It’s why the Hawks remain behind the Celtics (and before that, the Sixers) in the standings even though they have the better record, which only adds to the confusion.

I’ve maintained all along that the Hawks would get home-court advantage if that’s the way they finish but the questions persist. So, to put it to rest once and for all, I e-mailed NBA spokesman Tim Frank. His reply:

“Better record always gets home court.”

There it is, plainly stated. The Hawks would get home-court advantage as the No. 5 seed if their record is better than a division winner with a worst record. As it stands now, that means the Hawks would play host to the …

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Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 116, Bobcats 96

Charlotte–There’s been some talk about whether that other school could beat the Bobcats. That is, of course, preposterous. Not only does Charlotte have more pro players (not going to make the easy joke here) but there also is a human factor involved: No self-respecting NBA team, even one that is purposely stripped of talent to rebuild like Bobcats, is ever going to let some not-even-rookies beat them.

  • But we saw some compelling evidence over the last four night that perhaps Atlanta’s second unit could beat the Bobcats more times than not. The Bobcats play hard but they are no match for a team with Atlanta’s talent.
  • On a night when the starters other than Joe Johnson seemed willing to coast from the jump, the reserves came on to give them a 12-point halftime lead. The starters showed their appreciation–and most likely their desire to make quick work of Charlotte so they can chill on the bench–by burying the Bobcats from there.
  • “We started off flat in the first quarter, then …

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Atlanta Hawks at Bobcats: Game thread

Charlotte–This should be the ultimate test of the Hawks’ ability to handle their biz. The circumstances are ripe for them to try to coast: Back-to-back, destroyed the Bobcats three nights ago, three days off after tonight, and Charlotte is without D.J. Augustin (knee), Eduardo Najera (head), and Reggie Williams (knee).

  • Maybe the Hawks are good enough to beat Charlotte even if they do decide to take a night off but “It’s a big test for us given what the situation is,” Larry Drew said.
  • Vladimir Radmanovic (back) is not with the team. Tracy McGrady played last night but Drew said he’s available since he only logged seven minutes.
  • Drew on Jeff Teague’s big game last night: “He’s shown he can be the difference when he plays that way. The thing is to get him to play that way all the time.”
  • Drew on Teague’s development this season: “He’s been trying to please everyone. He’s got Joe Johnson on one side, Josh Smith on another side. Al [Horford], before he got injured. As a point …

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