Archive for the ‘Focal’ Category

Atlanta Hawks: A look at the Hawks at the quarter mark

Vivlamore reporting.

The Hawks have turned more than a few heads with their play during the first quarter of the season.

Through 21 games, the Hawks (14-7) are second in the Southeast Division and third in the Eastern Conference. They sit just a game behind the defending NBA champion Heat. Not many expected the Hawks, with a revamped a roster that included the loss of a six-time All-Star, to be such a part of the league conversation.

“Nobody outside-wise gave us an opportunity to be as successful as we are,” forward Josh Smith said. “We have been a successful ball club and have played with a lot of confidence.”

Here is a look at where the Hawks have been and what lies ahead after reaching the quarter pole of a long basketball season.

Biggest surprise

Almost to a man, coach and players point to the new-look team’s ability to come together quickly as the main reason for the early successes. After five consecutive postseason appearances, the Hawks brought in a new …

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Atlanta Hawks: Hawks look to put season-worst loss behind

Vivlamore reporting.

The Hawks took a day off Sunday to lick their collective wounds after the worst loss of the season. The Warriors manhandled the Hawks on the way to a 115-93 victory Saturday night at Philips Arena.

“When they punched us in the mouth we did not respond,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. “That was very disappointing. That was very disheartening.”

The Hawks (14-7) were all but out of the game by the second quarter. They trailed by as many as 27 points in the third quarter. Josh Smith was held to three points on 1-of-12 shooting. The defeat was far worse than the 13-point loss at the Clippers in the fifth game of the season, the previous highest margin of defeat.

“I told the guys after the game, this is one game,” Drew said. “We’ll look at it and see what happened. We are not going to let the snowball effect to take place. We are going to move on from this game as fast as we can.”

The Hawks struggled in nearly all phases of the game, Drew …

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Atlanta Hawks: Warriors 115, Hawks 93 (updated)

Vivlamore reporting.

This time it was the Hawks on the wrong end of a blowout.

And it was an ugly one.

The Warriors dominated the Hawks for the final three quarters of a 115-93 victory Saturday night at Philips Arena. The loss came two days after the Hawks beat up the Bobcats. The Warriors are clearly not the Bobcats.

“When they punched us in the mouth we did not respond,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. “That was very disappointing. That was very disheartening.

“The most important thing with our ball club is we have to bring energy every night. If we don’t bring the energy then we are really just a below average team. If we bring the energy than I think we can compete with anybody.”

The Hawks (14-7) shot just 36.9 percent from the floor (31-for-84). They trailed by as many as 27 points as the game got out of hand in the third quarter. It was only the third loss in the past 14 games for the Hawks. The Warriors shot 49.5 percent (49-for-99), held the rebounding edge …

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Atlanta Hawks game thread: Morrow out against Warriors (updated)

Vivlamore reporting.

The Hawks will continue with their normal lineup tonight against the Warriors with Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, DeShawn Stevenson, Josh Smith and Al Horford.

The Hawks will be a little short-handed as guard Anthony Morrow is out with back soreness. Morrow began experiencing back pain last week against the Grizzlies and the team has been managing the issue since. Morrow missed significant time with a stress fracture in his back during his junior year at Georgia Tech in 2006.

For the Hawks (14-6), they will be looking to avenge one of their losses this season after falling to the Warriors 92-88 in Oakland on Nov. 14. The Hawks were without center Al Horford and guard Devin Harris as they suffered from a stomach illness that hit the team hard during that West coast trip.

Coach Larry Drew welcomes another chance at the Warriors (15-8) with Horford.

“He is a big part of what we do,” Drew said. “I went back and looked at that game. It was kind of a weird game …

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Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 113, Bobcats 90 (updated)

Vivlamore reporting.

The Hawks were not about to let an opponent back into the game.

Not this time. Not with what was at stake.

The Hawks started fast and rarely let up in a 113-90 drubbing of the lowly Bobcats Thursday night at Philips Arena. The win gave the Hawks (14-6) a share of first place in the Southeast Division and second place in the Eastern Conference with the Heat.

The victory came one night after the Hawks had to hold off the struggling Magic. It also came two weeks after almost losing a double-digit, fourth-quarter lead to these Bobcats at home.

After leading this game by as many as 28 points in the second half all thoughts of another comeback were moot.

“I think we were able to keep executing,” forward Josh Smith said. “We didn’t get complacent. When we get big leads we tend to get complacent a little bit and let our guard down. Tonight we were able to put our foot on the gas and not let up.”

The Hawks have won 11 of their past 13 games on the way to …

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Atlanta Hawks game thread: A share of first place on the line

Vivlamore (a little weary) reporting.

The Hawks have another chance to claim first place in the Southeast Division tonight. With a victory over the Bobcats, the Hawks would match the 14-6 record of the Heat. A loss to the Heat Monday prevented the Hawks from overtaking Miami for the division lead and second place in the Eastern Conference.

Coach Larry Drew said he wants his team concentrating on the task at hand.

“I really haven’t been paying attention to standings,” Drew said. “I’ve just been trying to really focus game by game. I know when we went down there and had an opportunity we came up short. After that Miami game, I told our guys let’s not concern ourselves with standings and what people are saying. Let’s go out and take it a game at a time and try to play our best basketball.”

In other news:

* Forward Josh Smith is eighth in fan voting for frontcourt players in the Eastern Conference. The NBA released its first balloting update Thursday and Smith had …

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Atlanta Hawks: Hawks 86, Magic 80 (updated)

Vivlamore reporting.

It was supposed to be easy. The Hawks made it look that way – at least for 45 minutes.

The Hawks used fast starts in the first and third quarters but had to hold on to defeat the Magic 86-80 Wednesday night at the Amway Center.

The Hawks (13-6) defeated the Magic for the eighth consecutive game, including both meetings this season. It was also the Hawks’ 10th win in 12 games, concluding a 2-1 road trip.

The Hawks built a 19-point third-quarter lead but had to withstand a Magic rally in the final three minutes of the game. Keeping big leads has been an issue for the Hawks this season and the problem reared its ugly head again.

“For our team, we are going to have to learn to develop a killer instinct when we get a team down,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. “Right now, we don’t have it. We bobble too many balls. We miss too many fast-break opportunities. We have too many defensive breakdowns when we get leads. We allow teams to get back into games. …

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Smith on Smith: Steve says ‘travesty’ Josh never All-Star

Vivlamore reporting.

I’m working on a story on why Josh Smith has never been an All-Star despite his career numbers. I don’t want to jump the gun too much but I wanted to share what Steve Smith, the former Hawk (himself an All-Star with the team) and Hawks broadcaster, had to say on the subject when I spoke with him recently.

“I’ve spoke candidly about it, especially last year (when Josh wasn’t named a replacement for Joe Johnson),” Steve Smith said. “There is not another player like that. There are a lot of unique players, like a LeBron James. There are some guys in a class of their own. What he’s done, at power forward, basically with no backup. They have been thin for years trying to find some guys behind Josh and Al. I think Ivan Johnson, Jason Collins have filled in and done a wonderful job. Here is a player who plays at 6-8, undersized, leads the team in block shots. At times, leads them in rebounding. He guards his guy tremendously. He guards a guy who plays out on …

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Atlanta Hawks: Horford putting up All-Star numbers

Vivlamore reporting.

ORLANDO – Al Horford is back putting up numbers that made the Hawks center a two-time All-Star.

Horford has six straight double-double games in points and rebounds heading into Wednesday’s division game against the Magic. He has 11 double-doubles in the Hawks’ first 18 games this season. Among centers, only the Lakers’ Dwight Howard has more (12) in the NBA this season.

Horford missed most of last season after tearing his left pectoral muscle 11 games into the year. The injury cost him a chance for a third straight All-Star game. Although he returned for the playoffs, Horford was not 100 percent healthy. He spent the offseason getting back to form.

“I look at (the recent statistics),” Horford said. “I’m happy. I put in a lot of work in the offseason. This is just the fun part of it. In the offseason, nobody sees when you are in the gym, working late, getting in early and lifting to get back to where you need to be. It’s rewarding to see …

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Atlanta Hawks: Heat 101, Hawks 92 (updated)

Vivlamore reporting from Miami.

The Hawks had a chance to overtake the first-place Heat.

They are still looking up at the defending NBA champions. LeBron James was the biggest reason.

James scored a game-high 27 points as the Heat defeated the Hawks 101-92 Monday night at American Airlines Arena. James set a Heat regular-season record with his 24th consecutive 20-point game.

The Heat (14-5) used a 14-2 third-quarter run to break open a close game en route to the victory over the Hawks (12-6) in a battle for the Southeast Division lead. The Heat, winners of both games against the Hawks this season, now hold a 1.5 game lead in the division. The Heat also prevented the Hawks from taking over second place in the Eastern Conference.

“We just didn’t play aggressively in the second half,” guard Jeff Teague said. “We let them dictate how we were going to play, starting with me. We were kind of timid. We really didn’t have any fast-break points. From them playing at home, …

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