Archive for the ‘Hawks / NBA’ Category

Joe Johnson should skip All-Star game for Hawks’ sake

If Joe Johnson bows out of All-Star Game, it could open door for Josh Smith.

If Joe Johnson bows out of All-Star game, it could open door for Josh Smith. (AP photo)

(Updated at 2:05 p.m. with news that Joe Johnson will miss the next two games.)

Six-time All-Star Joe Johnson hasn’t often been given a warm embrace by the sports fans of Atlanta. That’s because no matter how many times he is referenced by team officials as “the six-time All-Star Joe Johnson,” significant matters keep getting in the way. Like his contract, his aloofness, his seeming lack of leadership and his team’s general shortcomings.

Well, here’s one way “six-time All-Star Joe Johnson” can score some points with the general populace: don’t play in his sixth All-Star game.

The Hawks are on a slide. They lost more games in the past 10 (3-7) than they did in the first 22 (16-6). This isn’t completely unexpected. They’re banged up. They’re worn down. They’re starting to play some better teams. They’re missing their starting center (Al Horford) and his backup (Jason …

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Report: Marvin Williams wants out (OK, what’s the joke?)

There haven't been enough moments like this from Marvin Williams. (AP photo)

There haven't been enough moments like this from Marvin Williams. (AP photo)

The Hawks have enough other issues now, with injuries to Al Horford, Jason Collins and Joe Johnson (who couldn’t finish Monday’s loss at Chicago because of a knee injury).

But here’s one more problem — or maybe it’s actually comic relief.

According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard — and I caution all to not treat this with Woodward-and-Bernstein reliability — Hawks forward Marvin Williams wants out. Quoting directly from Broussard’s “True Hoop” blog: “Frustration abounds in Atlanta right now, and sources say Marvin Williams wants out because he wants to play somewhere where he’ll have an increased role offensively. Williams is averaging just 9.6 points per game, his lowest since his rookie season.”

Let’s assume for a minute (or as long as it takes to finish this blog) that this true. Question: Seriously? I know Broussard covers the NBA but this items cries for some context.

This is Williams’ seventh NBA …

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How they really stand, from Braves (1) to Weasels (12)

Hey look, the Braves have new uniforms. So how about a new finish? (AP photo)

Hey look, the Braves have new uniforms. So how about a new finish? (AP photo)

Welcome to this year’s edition of “How They Really Stand,” my ranking of all area sports teams, taking into account wins, losses, direction, potential, coaches, general managers, owners, recruiting coordinators and whether anybody provides us with more civic pride than, say, The Big Chicken (the bar is low).

I’m unveiling this a month earlier than usual because it seemed like a natural break in the sports schedule with the Braves getting ready to start spring training and the Hawks taking an off day between personalities. Two tweaks this year: I’m adding Georgia State football and basketball and replacing the Thrashers with a new entry. (Last year’s ranking in parenthesis.)

1. Braves (1): The best team in town lost 20 of its last 30 games. How about a nice embalming smoothie to go with those chicken fingers? But the Braves looked like a potential World Series team on paper last season until the paper …

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NBA now paying for shortsightedness with injuries

The Hawks' Al Horford is one of two NBA players who've suffered a torn pectoral muscle this season. (AP photo)

Al Horford is one of two NBA players who've suffered a torn pectoral this season. (AP photo)

We have seen sprained ankles and strained groins, torn ACLs and shredded Achilles tendons. We have seen Al Horford and Kwame Brown go down with injuries normally reserved for offensive linemen (torn pectorals) and Danilo Gallinari crumble to the ground with a sprained ankle and foot, thereby giving the Denver Nuggets their own little HMO nightmare (four starters down).

If the NBA altered its iconic logo right now, it would be a silhouette of Jerry West with, a crutch under one arm, a sling around the other, ice bags taped to both knees, ankles the size of cantelopes and a red light bulb on his nose, just like the poor schlep on the “Operation” game.

With only one-third of the season complete, at least seven players already appear done for the season: the Hawks’ Horford, Golden State’s Brown, the Los Angeles Clippers’ Chauncey Billups (Achilles), Memphis’s Darrell Arthur …

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Josh Smith gets snubbed big-time for All-Star team (updated)

Josh Smith is averaging 15.6 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Josh Smith has averaged 15.6 points, nine rebounds and two blocks during Hawks' 17-9 start. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Josh Smith showed up at training camp with a changed body (a career-slim 225 pounds) and a seemingly changed attitude (“I’m seeing and hearing a passion I haven’t seen before,” observed his coach, Larry Drew).

The difference has been apparent to anybody who has watched him for most of this season — but apparently not to the coaches who select NBA All-Star reserves.

Smith wasn’t named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team Thursday night. That makes eight consecutive years he hasn’t been honored. Most of those seasons, nobody could argue. But this season’s omission is a huge injustice.

Smith has been a consistent performer this season, with only a few hiccups. He has been forced to take on a bigger role with the loss of center Al Horford to injury. He has been more of a team player, more under control — and, yes, smarter.

In fact, a case could be made that Smith …

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Hawks can’t take on world when they look like Munchkins

Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and the Hawks are looking smaller by the game. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and the Hawks are looking smaller by the game. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

It would be unfair to assume that the Hawks are crumbling after three consecutive home debacles, just as it would’ve been presumptuous to believe that a team without Al Horford (and his backup) could maintain a 16-6 pace for the rest of the NBA season.

But at the very least, this basketball team has slipped into that uncomfortable zone between concern and panic. I call it: trouble.

They look fatigued. They look disinterested or lost or, worst of all, hopeless. They certainly look short. A team loses the 6-foot-10 Horford and the 7-0 Jason Collins, and suddenly you half-expect 6-8 “center” Ivan Johnson and two members of the Lollipop Guild to run on to the court wearing colored shorts and striped leggings and start singing to Dorothy.

Yes. It’s only three games. If the Hawks can rebound and defeat Indiana on Wednesday night in their half-empty home of Philips Arena, they will be 17-9 …

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Hawks lose again — and it’s clear they need some help

Joe Johnson and the Hawks have fallen flat the last three games after a 16-6 start. (AP photo)

Joe Johnson and the Hawks have fallen flat the last three games after a 16-6 start. (AP photo)

One week ago, the Hawks won a game by 23 points in Toronto. They went 4-1 on a road trip — their most successful trip in 43 years — and held one of the best records in the NBA at 16-6.

Then the team came home, and it was like watching Sybil change personalities.

The Hawks lost to the 9-14 Phoenix Suns, 99-90, on Monday night at Philips Arena. That makes three straight home losses to Memphis, Philadelphia and Phoenix. They’ve trailed by 20-plus points in all three games.

The one thread in the three losses has been a mixed effort.

There are several reasons why this may have happened. The most obvious: Being undersized without two centers, Al Horford (potentially out for the season) and Jason Collins (sidelined for two weeks), has led to physical fatigue, which has led to mental fatigue.

Players are not nearly as aggressive as they were earlier in the season. They’re not sharing the …

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Dwight Howard’s diva tendencies are not a good sign

The Orlando Magic have lost for straight and Dwight Howard looks like he already has checked out. (AP photo)

Orlando has lost four straight and Dwight Howard looks like he has checked out, which can't please coach Stan Van Gundy. (AP photo)

Dwight Howard is good. Really good. He is one of the five best players in the world. He is the best center in the world. He is so good that he is in that special I-only-need-one-damn-name-because-THAT’S-how-good-I-am category. (Others: LeBron, Kobe, Dwyane.)

But here’s another thing about Dwight Howard, superstar, Olympian, Atlanta native, solid citizen, blahblahblah: He has jumped the rails. He can – and almost certainly will – opt out of his contract with the Orlando Magic following this season, assuming the team doesn’t trade him before that happens.

The Magic should have dealt Howard before the season. They have not handled this situation well, and now the Magic appear in the midst of an early-season crumble, having lost four straight and six of eight. But there’s one person who looks worse than anybody in the Orlando front office …

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Countdown: Super ads, PETA’s wings, Saban’s job offer?

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Now on Stage 3, at the Super Bowl . . .

If this was Pledge of Allegiance, Janet would have right hand over her heart, not left hand over … you know.

Like most people in the regular and underworlds, The Count likes the Super Bowl, not for the game but for the food and the commercials, and that rare occasion when the the NFL halftime show morphs into a night at the “Club Hubba Hubba,” less for the split-second look at part of one of Janet Jackson’s breastacles (I saw it! I saw it!) but because it looked like somebody had just connected jumper cables to the toes of then-commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who said, “We were extremely disappointed by the MTV-produced halftime show. The show was offensive, inappropriate and embarrassing to us and our fans.” After which the league showed more commercials to help you get drunk and correct erectile dysfunction. (”Daddy, why did mommy laugh at the Viagra commercial?”) Any way, this is Super Bowl week, and that means more new commercials and hopefully nothing to surprising at …

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Countdown: Blank scoreboards, Bear’s plot, lingerie football! (UPDATED)

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The Count knows about budget cutbacks.

The Count hates budget cutbacks.

(11:40 a.m. Updated below with comments from Bob Williams about plans for new scoreboards after the season.)

Hello. With football season about over, our resident mathematician and mocker, Count Von Count, has returned to this cyber-page for periodic appearances. (Periodic is defined as: “Are there enough items this week? Am I hungry? Is there something else to do? What’s on TV? Oh look, the couch.) Anyway, We’re trying to spiff up these page a little bit — note, the Chalkboard borrowed from Weekend Predictions, Inc. — but we’ve been given a limited budget. Everybody is cutting back. Employees. Payroll. Fat grams. The Count hates cutbacks. Mrs. Count keeps trying to get him to switch to low-cholesterol plasma, but, sorry, it just doesn’t taste the same. More cutbacks: The Count has been to a few Hawks games this season and noticed something: Several scoreboards at Philips Arena are turned off. Did somebody pull a plug? Did something break? Was …

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