Hawks’ Collins ready for game 2 (round 2?) against Howard

Dwight Howard finds himself in a trio of Hawks: Jason Collins (left), Josh Smith and Al Horford (obscured).

Dwight Howard surrounded by Hawks: Jason Collins, Josh Smith and Al Horford (obscured).

ORLANDO – Dwight Howard is an expert on awards. He has just been named the NBA’s defensive player of the year for the third straight season, which adds to a resume that already includes five All-Star Games, three all-NBA first-team honors and a finals appearance in only seven seasons. He could win an MVP award one day.

So I figure if Howard, awards expert, says that Jason Collins deserves an award, he must know what he’s talking about.

“He pulled me back,” Howard claimed of the Hawks’ Collins. “So of course I flew back. He should get an Academy Award.”

Actually, it wasn’t Collins who tugged at Howard in game one of the playoffs. It was Sasquatch. Possibly with weak-side help from the Easter Bunny and a herd of unicorns.

This first-round match-up between the Hawks and Orlando has been intriguing for two reasons: 1) Atlanta, a significant underdog, won the opener in Orlando; 2) Howard, despite scoring 46 points in the game, seemed frustrated by the Hawks’ aggressive and physical defense inside, led by Jason “Sluggo” Collins.

Things boiled over to the point of Howard head-butting Collins while he had his back to him, throwing out his arms as if Collins had pulled him back to cause the contact. But there’s no evidence a pull ever took place, and Collins, briefly knocked dizzy, mused after the game, “I’m ready for elbows and arms but I’m not ready for a head butt.”

Collins laughed Monday when told Howard blamed him for the contact.

“Really? Hah! Wow,” he said.

“That’s interesting. I guess that’s one perspective on history. And then there’s the truth.”

Collins said Howard was just frustrated “because he had just lost the ball.”

Then there’s this:  “Dwight’s gotta know: Every time he’s going across the lane or he’s running in transition, he’s going to get hit.”

Jason Collins (left) played at Stanford with his twin brother Jarron, who also has played in the NBA.

Jason Collins (left) played at Stanford with his twin brother, Jarron, who also has had a solid NBA career.

Collins was on the Hawks’ roster a year ago but maybe you might have missed that. He played only six minutes total in two of the four losses to Orlando. It was one of coach Mike Woodson’s decisions that then assistant Larry Drew disagreed with. Drew said when he got the job, “I was adamant about Jason coming back.”

So the Hawks re-signed him for another year.

“At the end of the night when you look at his stat sheet, you’re not very impressed,” Drew said. “But he plays with a physicality. He doesn’t give up angles. He does the little things that you need against powerful centers like Dwight.”

Collins is in his 10th NBA season. He’s a survivor. He came into the league with New Jersey as a first-round pick out Stanford, where he played on a 27-4 team in 1999-2000 with his twin brother Jarron. He had a nice scoring touch in college.

“I shot threes,” he said, proudly.  Yes, there is video to back this up. But he realized early he wasn’t going to be a scorer in the NBA.

“I learned that if I wanted to have a long career in this league, I had to be good in my role as a solid low-post defender,” he said. “Whether it’s accepting a charge or doing things that don’t show up in the box score to help teams win, that’s my role.”

His stat line from game one: 6 fouls, 1 point, 1 steal.

“There’s not a lot of glory to what he’s doing, but we all understand the significance,” Joe Johnson said.

When he came out, his teammates gave him an ovation. The trainer gave him ice.

“Going against a great low-post player, you know you’re going to need some ice bags after the game,” he said.

He was a rookie with the Nets when he went up against Shaquille O’Neal in the finals. That was his entry point into a bruising career path.

“Being a professional athlete is all about challenges and wanting to go up against the best,” he said. “For me, Shaq was the benchmark. He had one dunk on me that was so nasty that I had 15 messages on my cell phone after the game. Friends just asking, ‘Hey, I saw the game. Are you alright?’”

Collins survived. Nine years later, he’s going against Dwight Howard, who doesn’t like him very much. Shaq didn’t like him either. He must be doing something right.

By Jeff Schultz

Last few Hawks blogs

Van Gundy: Hawks’ Hinrich deal better than Carmelo trade

Playoff win shows Hawks haven’t quit on Larry Drew

Hawks surprise us again — this time by stunning Magic

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

64 comments Add your comment

Phil

April 18th, 2011
4:38 pm

Pound Howard again. Frustrate him.

Hunter 790

April 18th, 2011
4:39 pm

FIRST

Jeff, first I meet you in studio last week with Bell, now I’m first on your column! Good things happening!

Hunter 790

April 18th, 2011
4:39 pm

man, I guess I’ll take 2nd

Bum

April 18th, 2011
4:41 pm

coloradobulldog

April 18th, 2011
4:42 pm

Twin did a great job. And Drew gets some credit putting in on guys to make sure he didn’t get another foul in first half – even if it meant Dwight went off. Long series. Let’s hope we can maintain the mo’.

Sonny Clusters

April 18th, 2011
5:08 pm

We just mailed off our taxes and are down in the dumps right now.

"Chef" Tim Dix

April 18th, 2011
5:27 pm

He’s made a career out of being a garbage thug.

And I mean that in the best of ways.

Kudos Jason, keep it up!

Delbert D.

April 18th, 2011
6:06 pm

With Collins and Pachulia rotating in, that’s 12 significant fouls to give against Howard. Make him work for every step he takes, guys!

jp

April 18th, 2011
6:17 pm

what do you means collins and pachulia? you mean collins, pachulia, powell and thomas for the first 44 minutes and Al Horford the last 4 right? That’s 5 centers or 30 fouls to give. IMO, the Hawks did the right thing last offseason signing all these center to fight against Dwight.

"Chef" Tim Dix

April 18th, 2011
6:27 pm

Could it be that my “thug” comment is the first positive use of the word ever in the AJC?

Just wondering.

Hawk n the Ham

April 18th, 2011
6:35 pm

Jason Collins is the Bees Knees!

Boooo!

April 18th, 2011
6:39 pm

Activate Hilton Armstrong! That’s six more doses of punishment that we can dish out to Dwight!

Free the Teague!

Jeff Schultz

April 18th, 2011
6:40 pm

Hunter — Starting with silver-bronze isn’t bad. You’ve got to be quick around here.

Jeff Schultz

April 18th, 2011
6:40 pm

Sonny Clusters — “We just mailed off our taxes and are down in the dumps right now.” … I’m sure the DQ would turn that frown upside down.

Boooo!

April 18th, 2011
6:41 pm

Jeff, I love that picture with Al, Smoove, and Jason smothering Howard. Epic!

Jeff Schultz

April 18th, 2011
6:42 pm

“Chef” Tim Dix — “Could it be that my “thug” comment is the first positive use of the word ever in the AJC? Just wondering.”
…. It certainly would set precedent for a different context on a Michael Vick blog.

Jeff Schultz

April 18th, 2011
6:42 pm

Hawk n the Ham — “Jason Collins is the Bees Knees!” …. Look at you, going old school. I’m going out for a chocolate malted now.

Jack In Wyoming

April 18th, 2011
7:11 pm

He allows almost half a hun (46) to Howard but he played him well ? BS man !

Jack In Wyoming

April 18th, 2011
7:13 pm

Howard’s regular season scoring average is probably about 24 ppg. and he scored 46 on the “Thug Defender” Collins. Laughable dudes !

Jack In Wyoming

April 18th, 2011
7:40 pm

So if Howard scores 75 tuesday night but Hawks still win then Collins would have done another “Good Job” on Howard ? How about no credit to Collins and just say the Hawks shot better than the Magic ? How about saying Hinrich,Horford,J.Smith,& JJ played well together ?

Najeh Davenpoop

April 18th, 2011
8:03 pm

Collins is the man. It’s about more than just being physical with him. Dude moves his feet really well and knows exactly where to position himself defensively.

Jack In Wyoming

April 18th, 2011
8:04 pm

What ye say ole Jeff , Matey ?

Jack In Wyoming

April 18th, 2011
8:05 pm

Collins is the “Trees Cheese”…

Jack In Wyoming

April 18th, 2011
8:07 pm

That’s like saying Tim Hudson pitched well if he only gave up 6 runs to Colorado in 5 innings but won 8-6.

Jack In Wyoming

April 18th, 2011
8:09 pm

M.C. Hammer “moves his feet well” too but would give up 90 points to Howard !

Jack In Wyoming

April 18th, 2011
8:10 pm

Jeff, you Barney,and Andy going over to Thelma Lou’s soon ?

OldTimer

April 18th, 2011
8:34 pm

Interesting, we’ll see.

MitchC

April 18th, 2011
9:19 pm

Jeff, in reality, I hope it isnt bad luck that you said “Round 2″ in your blog. We can’t even think of “Round 2″ (Of the playoffs, until the Magic are gone, which is a long way from happening)

The Hawks played one very good game on the road in the first round of a playoff series. Although.. and I dont want to sound.. pre mature.. what they did do with the Game One win.. is put themselves in position to win the series, if they sweep Games Three, Four, and Six in Atlanta, even if they get pummeled in Games Two and Five in Orlando.

I will be very surprised if the Magic just roll over. I’m expecting a long series, even if the Hawks do win.

Winnipeg, Canada

April 18th, 2011
9:20 pm

The Hawks sre undefeated in the new playoff season.

Keep it up, make some noise.

Harry the Hawk

April 18th, 2011
9:56 pm

All the Hawks have “H”s in their names! I think that’s lucky right there…

brad

April 18th, 2011
9:57 pm

MitchC, I sure Schultz meant that game 2 would be round 2, as in a boxing match.

JASon

April 18th, 2011
11:00 pm

“That’s interesting. I guess that’s one perspective on history. And then there’s the truth.”

Well put! Really admire the physicality and approach from the Hawks. One word: balls.

Hawks Fan In New Oreans

April 18th, 2011
11:13 pm

Dwight’s game would be difficult to duplicate in Game 2. But who cares if he goes for 60 as long as 1 big can hold him down, allow the other 4 defenders on the court to guard their man? Collins and to a lesser extent, Zaza were successful i getting under Dwight’s skin as well.

hawker v

April 18th, 2011
11:38 pm

Dwight howard is already packing his bags for LA—more money, 24/7 club scene, movies, music companies, endorsement deals, wild crazy hollywood chicks……. orlando doesn’t have what he wants.

Atlanta Hawks - Page 60 - iSTORYA.NET

April 19th, 2011
3:32 am

jeffrey d

April 19th, 2011
7:32 am

Actually, it wasn’t Collins who tugged at Howard in game one of the playoffs. It was Sasquatch

Before I kept reading and realized you were being facetious, I thought you were implying that it was Zaza who tugged on Howard.

JSS

April 19th, 2011
7:42 am

It hilarious that certain bloggers keep missing the point on what Collins did on Saturday night. Howard was primed for a 60/35 and possibly 10 assist night. He started just that strong. But that 3rd quarter was to the Magic as was the same quarter in Game 2 of Hawks/Magic last year. They flew by the Hawks then on the strength of Dwight being the facilitator from the low post. That along with Hawks unwillingness (inability) to shutdown the perimeter were the root of their demise in a epic fall. Just as HF in NOLA pointed out, Collins did his job!

The Hawks adjusted (a miracle). Jameer and Howard sure got theirs; but the lunacy of Howard catching and dishing to cutters or passing out to wide open 3 point shooters were made. For the most point, old Hawks killers Anderson, Hedo, and Arenas saw hands in the face or met by being bodied up. It is this simple, first half 31, Second half 15, and a boat load of fouls, thus High fives!

JSS

April 19th, 2011
8:11 am

SecondSage

April 19th, 2011
8:20 am

Jack in Wyoming knows nothing about basketball.

JSS

April 19th, 2011
8:34 am

Hawk in the Ham…
Can I get a Egg Creme? ;-)

Barry

April 19th, 2011
11:25 am

Hey Y’all:

It is still ROUND 1 in this rough and rugged fight. Our Hawks threw the first puch and nearly knocked the heck out off the Orlando. Nearly knocked the “OUT OF SIGHT”. Orllando struggles to get off the floor but got HIT again by our HAWKS. Orlando in a daze now. They don’t know what hit them. Punches (SHOTS) was coming from all over. Orlando is confused and are seeing double. Oh Man, the Magic is really in TROUBLE!! Our HAWKS are STARING. They are STARING with a SNARL. They look like they are not going to have pitty because pitty won’t last until tomorrow. OUR HAWKS are going for the ‘KNOCKOUT’. YOU JUST WAIT AND SEE. They are going to knock these Magic out like ” IN THE NAME OF MUHAMMAD ALI.”

RUMBLE, YOUNG TEAM, RUMBBLEE!! AAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

LETS GO HAWKS!!!!!!!! SHOCK THE WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!

NOW, ARE YOU READY TO RUMMMMMMMMMMMMBBBBBBLEEEE!!!!!!!!????????

SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is a SECRET from a HAWK FAN. TELL EVERYBODY!!!!!!!!!!!

………………………..”SHOCK THE WORLD!!!”……………..

Don Ron

April 19th, 2011
11:55 am

OMG, how ignorant can you all be? Considering Hawks’ weaknesses, they lose tonight, win one more, and go down in six. Wise up, people!! This team reached its top last year, and it’s been downhill slide since! Look at the stats! Are you blind, or what???

JChikara

April 19th, 2011
12:02 pm

There’s no way that any combination of Collins, Powell, Zaza, and Etan are going to hold down Dwight for any reason. The Hawks’ strategy is just to make sure everyone else (re: Jameer, Richardson, Hedo, Arenas) doesn’t beat them. Also, with the height Atlanta has against their defenders they must take advantage.

The key is just making sure that Al Horford doesn’t have to go up against Dwight at all until it’s too late.

bfred

April 19th, 2011
12:27 pm

Collins allowed the remaining four to cover and contest every shot. Howard and Nelson were 26 for 41 combined; the rest of the team was 8 for 34. The Hawks are bigger and allowed no open shots. Plus howard was 14 of 22 from the line. I don’t know if those were all shooting fouls but if so that means Howard took 34 shots, plus he is now p1ssed and wants to take it to the basket himself. Nelson had one assist.

So yeah, if you can get into the head of the best center in the league while smothering the rest of the team such that the PG’s only option is to shoot himself then you have a winning formula. Nelson’s not going 14-22 (64%) every game.

Truth

April 19th, 2011
12:30 pm

At least we didnt get blown out last like year

Maybe that midget (Nelson) talking sh$t will backfire

bfred

April 19th, 2011
12:32 pm

I love that photo, by the way. You’ve got Horford playing straight-up defense, Josh going for the block and Collins clotheslining him just to be sure.

drmaryb (*_*)

April 19th, 2011
12:47 pm

Macaroni – Ron!

“OMG, how ignorant can you all be? Considering Hawks’ weaknesses, they lose tonight, win one more, and go down in six. Wise up, people!! This team reached its top last year, and it’s been downhill slide since! Look at the stats! Are you blind, or what???”
____________________

Perfect description of The Magic – they are going to need some Magic to get past the Hawks.

tom

April 19th, 2011
12:51 pm

What are the odds that D12 gets another Technical Foul tonight?

GovClintonTyree

April 19th, 2011
1:18 pm

The Hawks lost me a couple months ago when they started mailing it in, so I’m admittedly not up on things, but – even though I freely recognize that there’s value in making a star big man work for his points, are you really celebrating the guy who “held” him to 45 and 15 boards? While tallying 1 and 1 himself?

Seriously?

Howard for 45, Nelson for 27. Maybe y’all should look at the defense Williams, Smith and Johnson did on Arenas, Richardson and Turkoglu.

GovClintonTyree

April 19th, 2011
1:20 pm

OK, 46 and 19. Question remains.