Archive for the ‘Hawks / NBA’ Category

Rick Sund shouldn’t be making decisions for Hawks

Rick Sund will decide on his future soon, but Hawks should be hiring another decision-maker. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Rick Sund will decide on his future soon, but Hawks should be hiring another decision-maker. (Jason Getz/AJC)

As early as next week, the Hawks will make an announcement on the status of Rick Sund. Maybe he comes back as general manager. Maybe he comes back as team president. Maybe he comes back as consultant, spiritual adviser, GM Emeritus and VP of Deflecting Blame for the Joe Johnson Contract.

Doesn’t really matter what he decides. It’s a problem.

Sund is considering retirement. Do you know what some say when an athlete is considering retirement? He already has checked out. The same belief should apply to coaches and team executives.

In all likelihood, no matter what Sund chooses to do, he will remain with the Hawks through the draft. He still has the downtown office on Marietta Street. He will attend an NBA draft combine this weekend. He will be the Hawks’ executive talking to other general managers about players who potentially might be available in trade.

Sund goes …

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Does Dwight Howard’s baggage outweigh his talent?

Howard (AP photo)

When it came to survival, Stan Van Gundy should've known he wasn't going to win a battle with Dwight Howard. (AP photo)

Last November, I proposed a trade for the Hawks: Deal any two players on their roster for Dwight Howard.

Joe Johnson and Josh Smith. Josh Smith and Al Horford. Johnson and Al Horford. Marvin Williams, several Mediterranean islands and the undying gratitude of every Atlanta resident.

But given what just occurred, I’m wondering how much better off the Hawks would be in the long run with such a diva on the roster.

The Orlando Magic, in an expected move, fired coach Stan Van Gundy, ostensibly because Howard wanted him out. Even before Van Gundy went public late in the season that Howard was trying to get him fired, it was clear the two were in an unworkable situation.

Ownership knows firing their coach and general manager (Otis Smith) won’t lose them any ticket sales. Losing Howard would. So this was an easy choice. Of course, if Howard leaves any way, they will …

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Hawks plagued with too many issues, from owners to Joe

Whether it's Larry Drew or somebody else as coach, Hawks have problems that can't easily be fixed.

Whether it's Larry Drew or another coach, Hawks have problems that can't easily be fixed.

In many ways, the Hawks are no different than other organizations. They end the season with a loss and for several weeks plot their makeover.

Maybe they need a new coach. Maybe they need a new general manager. Maybe a star player who can be the rose one minute and the thorns the next needs to be traded. Or maybe a dysfunctional ownership group comes to the realization, “This isn’t working. Let’s go back to selling cellphone towers and newsletters. We’re outta here.”

But in at least one way, the Hawks so often are different from other organizations: No matter what decisions we logically think they can make this summer, it’s difficult not to come away with the belief that they’re still going to be in trouble when next season opens.

Most franchises give you hope. The Hawks give you hangovers.

The Braves missed the playoffs and did little this past winter to improve themselves, …

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Al Horford on Game 5: ‘I didn’t know if I was going to play’

Smile, Al Horfford: You just rescued the Hawks in the NBA playoffs. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Smile, Al Horford: You just rescued the Hawks in the NBA playoffs. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Three hours before tip-off, three hours before the performance that would reaffirm what Al Horford means to this basketball team, the Hawks’ center had no idea if he would be able to play.

“I got to the arena around 5 o’clock, and I didn’t know if I was going to play,” Horford said in a corner of the locker room late Tuesday night. “It was pregame. I was real uncertain. I was feeling tight. I couldn’t get my full range of motion in my pec and my shoulder.”

The Hawks already were in relative crisis mode. They were down 3-1 in a playoff series that they had once led 1-0. They had flat-lined in Game 4 in Boston. Now Horford can’t play?

The only thing preventing this from devolving into slapstick would’ve been Alan Henderson walking through the door and saying, “Don’t worry guys, I got this” (before sneezing and throwing his back out again).

Fortunately, tragic comedy was …

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Horford leads way, as Hawks survive for another day

Al Horford, in his first start in nearly four months, was Hawks' best player early against Boston. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Al Horford, in his first start in four months, was Hawks' best player early and late against Boston. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

With his dual-personality basketball team facing playoff elimination Tuesday night, Hawks coach Larry Drew started a center (Al Horford) who was coming off his first game in nearly four months and a forward (Marvin Williams) who had played his way on to the bench for much of this season.

“We wanted to give a different look and see if it jump-starts us,” Drew said.

This is where the average Hawks fan inserted the just-rearranging-the-chairs-on-the-Titanic joke. Because, well, what is an Atlanta sports fan if not someone with a sense of impending doom?

But something weird happened. Actually, more like something Hawks happened. Philips Arena was Sybil Central again.

They trailed by 10 early. They led by 12 late. They blew the lead (of course). They got it back (of course).

They led 87-83 with a minute left, but left Paul Pierce wide open for a 3-pointer …

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LIVE: Hawks hope to redeem themselves, extend season

Can Hawks force a Game 6 after being humiliated in Boston? (AP photo)

Can the Hawks force a Game 6 after being humiliated in Boston? (AP photo)

(This is an early column that will serve as the live blog for tonight’s Hawks’ playoff game against Boston. It will updated afterward. Hawks coach Larry Drew said after this morning’s shoot around that center Al Horford and forward Marvin Williams will start, joining Joe Johnson, Jeff Teague and Josh Smith. Kirk Hinrich will come off the bench. The move allows Johnson to go back to the shooting guard position and get away from defending Paul Pierce, possibly reserving more energy for the offensive end. Whether it works is another matter. By the way, checked with a pal, Todd Fuhrman of the Caesars Palace sports book in Las Vegas. He said that while he hasn’t posted odds on this, he would make the Hawks an 11-1 underdog to win the next three games of the series. I would’ve thought it would be even higher but the fact two out of three games would be at Philips Arena might be a factor.)


Timing is …

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Hawks do it their way to take Game 1 over Celtics (updated)

Josh Smith takes it to the hoops against Boston's Greg Stiemsma, as the Hawks started impressively against the Celtics. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Josh Smith, here taking it to hoop against Greg Stiemsma, paced the Hawks with 22 points, 18 rebounds (Curtis Compton/AJC)

(Updated: 10:50 p.m.)

If they win this series, if the Hawks somehow manage to bury the Boston demon one postseason after burying the Orlando demon, it can’t be the Josh-and-Joe show. It has to be this guy, or that guy, the other guy or … wait, which guy was banned in Korea again?

It has to be like what happened Sunday night.

Boston cuts a 19-point lead to 10. What happens? Kirk Hinich hits a three-pointer. Jason Collins hits a pair of shots (wait, Jason Collins?). So starts an 11-2 run that re-inflates the lead to 19.

Later in the fourth quarter, Boston cuts the lead to eight. What happens? Jannero Pargo drives for a hoop. Tracy McGrady sneaks past three seemingly comatose Celtics for a rebound and a jam. Suddenly the lead is back up to 12.

This is how you win a playoff series. The Hawks won only one game Sunday night, not a series, but Game 1 was …

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LIVE: Can Hawks continue to overcome odds vs. Celtics?

Any predictions what scoreboard will say at the end? List them below.

Any predictions on how this scoreboard will read at the end? List them below.

(Updated: 6:10 p.m. with Ray Allen’s status and Hawks’ lineup.)

No Al Horford. No Zaza Pachulia. No chance?

Not quite.

Maybe you wouldn’t know it by looking at some of the series predictions. On ESPN’s “expert picks,” 12 pick the Celtics and one who didn’t get the memo took the Hawks. The biggest reason is that the Hawks look like an entry in a 6-foot-and-under league (relatively speaking). Center Al Horford (pectoral) likely out for the whole series. Backup Zaza Pachulia (foot) is doubtful. (Coach Larry Drew after the morning shoot around: “He’s sitting out there with a boot on his foot, so that’s not a good sign.”)

But it’s worth noting this is not a dominant Celtics team. They grind out wins. Their average per-game point differential of plus-2.52 ranked only 11th in the league. Their best three-point shooter, Ray Allen, is out with an ankle injury tonight and is questionable for the …

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Drew deserves some credit for holding Hawks together

Larry Drew has been a nurturing coach this season for Jeff Teague and the Hawks. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Larry Drew has kept messages positive for players such as Jeff Teague. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

For a guy considered an afterthought of a candidate, a guy who some figured was hired because he lobbied so hard, wouldn’t make demands and certainly came cheap, Larry Drew keeps passing tests.

It’s one thing for a team to play hard for a coach in his first season, when everybody in the locker room is just happy that the previous guy is out of town. It’s another to keep that same team from derailing in Season 2, particularly when the coach has no real resume for how he responds to landmines.

Al Horford went down 11 games into the season. Still, this Hawks team, wrapped in gauze much of the season, managed to go 40-26, the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks overcame injuries. They used lineups resembling the Lollipop Guild. They endured Tracy McGrady publicly whining about his playing time and Ivan “The Ticking Time Bomb” Johnson getting sent home off a …

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Hawks overcame injuries during season, so why not now?

Can Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and the Hawks pull off a playoff surprise? (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Can Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and the Hawks pull off a playoff surprise? (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Larry Drew walked into the Hawks’ practice gym early last week and saw a herd of unicorns frolicking in a field of purple daisies. Or possibly a crowd of players. They seem to be one and the same.

“I saw all of these bodies — it looked weird,” the Hawks’ coach said. “I think Al [Horford] had just been cleared for non-contact, and I walked out and everybody was there. I thought maybe they had let some people in the gym who shouldn’t have been there.”

It has been that kind of a year. Imagine an NBA team playing a full regular season and not having its starting lineup together even once. Only two players, Josh Smith and Jeff Teague, have played in every game. Drew has used 11 different starting lineups, and 10 of the roster’s 15 players have combined to miss 111 games with everything from a torn pectoral to an appendectomy.

Guard Kirk Hinrich missed the first 18. Center …

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