Posts Tagged ‘Josh Smith’

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 …

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

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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Al Horford may be near return — and Hawks need him

If Al Horford could provide just a little defense like this, it would go a long way for the Hawks. (AP photo)

If Al Horford could provide just a little defense like this in playoffs, it would go a long way. (AP)

There were good signs, things you want to see before the playoffs: Marvin Williams channeling, well, somebody other than Marvin Williams (29 points, including three straight possessions in which he hit two three-pointers and then drove to the hoop for an and-one); Jeff Teague scoring and then smack-talking with Carmelo Anthony (impressive); the 6-1 Jannero Pargo going nose-to-belly button with the 6-11 Amar’e Stoudemire (funny).

Then there were things Hawks coach Larry Drew would have preferred not seeing from an NBA team in a late April game: An extended halftime slumber that enabled the New York Knicks to go on a 12-1 run to open the second half; defensive breakdowns (like forgetting to cover Carmelo Anthony in transition); 19 turnovers (for the second straight game).

So let’s reaffirm with this when it comes to the Hawks: Nobody really knows what to expect when they …

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Hawks barely hang on to defeat Celtics Lite (Updated)

Josh Smith and the Hawks found the second-string Celtics a little more difficult to handle than expected. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Josh Smith and the Hawks found the second-string Celtics a little more difficult to handle than expected. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

(Last update: 10:17 p.m.)

Dwight Howard, once again reaffirming that there is no “team” in “I,” decided this week to have back surgery now rather than get an injection, bite a bullet, look away from the vanity mirror and wait until after the NBA playoffs to have his procedure.

This decision will not only submarine Orlando’s postseason aspirations, it fairly cemented that the Hawks and Boston will finish as the Eastern Conference’s Nos. 4 and 5 seeds and ensure they will meet in the first round of the playoffs. So at least in some sense, Friday’s Hawks-Celtics game was a postseason preview.

But the Hawks had better hope what we just witnessed will bear little resemblance to what happens next week.

The Celtics played their second string. The Hawks merely looked second-rate.

Facing a Boston lineup that was missing Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, …

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Joe Johnson finding his rhythm — and so are Hawks

The look says it all as Joe Johnson sinks a jumper to seal the Hawks' four-overtime win over Utah Sunday night. (AP photo)

The look says it all as Joe Johnson sinks a jumper to seal the Hawks' four-overtime win over Utah Sunday night. (AP photo)

There is a tendency in pro sports to measure pro athletes by the number of digits in their paychecks. It follows that expectations of what Joe Johnson is supposed to be reside somewhere just south of Zeus-ian.

So let’s start with this: Yes, Johnson makes a lot of money. He will continue to make a lot of money. He probably has an ATM in his pantry, just to the left of the case of Beluga caviar.

He is the only person in Atlanta who this week will drive past that billboard that reads, “Mega Millions: $356 million” and think, “You know, I just don’t know if I want to fill out all of that paper work for another direct deposit account.”

But in what is turning into a rather remarkable Hawks’ season, Johnson has been far more than a dollar sign with ears lately. The guy known for 2-ton-W-2, with too few big moments and too few big games, has been a …

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Hawks showing us something new — they can take a punch

Larry Drew never quite knows who is going to be in his huddle. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Hawks coach Larry Drew never quite knows who is going to be in his huddle. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

One guy has a strained hamstring. Another guy has a bad hip. Another has a bad back.

Another somehow found a way to make a road trip to Cleveland worse than even the usual road trip to Cleveland: He had an appendectomy.

These are your Hawks — or at least what’s left of them — after 46 games that seemingly should be wrapped in medical gauze and a mutant schedule created in David Stern’s nickel-squeezing torture chamber that has seen the team play nine consecutive games in nine different cities (two games were at home, but not in a row).

“Two or three years ago, we would’ve just quit — we would’ve folded,” general manager Rick Sund said Tuesday. “This year we seem to have more resilience. Frankly, before the game [Monday] night, it was amazing to me that we were seven games over .500.”

And that really is what’s worth talking about with the Hawks.

Are they flawed? Of …

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