Archive for May, 2009

Round 2, Game 2: Say goodbye to the Atlanta Hawks

Cleveland – It’s over, folks. More than just losing two games, the Hawks have lost players and heart. They’re undermanned. They’re overwhelmed. Soon they’ll be outta here.

This one has sweep written all over it. Yes, a certain series a year ago bore the same look after two distressing road games, and that one went the distance. But Al Horford and Marvin Williams and Joe Johnson weren’t injured then, and these are the Cavs and they’re even more driven than Boston was. LeBron James might not let his team lose a half, let alone a game.

And the Hawks who showed up at Quicken Loans Arena – or, more precisely, didn’t show up – pale alongside the spirited bunch that took Games 3, 4 and 6 from Boston, even alongside the polished crew that saw off Miami in Game 7. In three days here the Hawks managed the difficult task of hurting themselves while taking a dive.

“I don’t know who’s going to dress on Saturday,” Mike Woodson said afterward. And then: “We’ve got to get our main guys on the …

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Live from Cleveland: Game 2, and the Mayor is mad at me!

Cleveland – I don’t like doing television. Heck, I don’t like watching television. But a local station asked if I’d come on live from courtside at the Q before tonight’s game because one of the anchors took umbrage with this scandalous line from the live Game 1 blog:

“For one thing, they have to live in Cleveland.”

It was, I’ll grant you, a bad little joke. But I’d also submit that, as Cleveland jokes go, it was about the mildest ever. Because I don’t really get into that make-fun-of-the-other-city thing. (Except for Birmingham, Ala. — don’t get me started on Birmingham, Ala.)

Anyway, I was asked to go on the local Fox affiliate with some guy named Bob — or maybe it was Bill — who bills (or bobs) himself as the Mayor of the City of Champions. (Yes, that would, in Bob/Bill’s mind, be Cleveland, Ohio, which hasn’t seen a professional championship since 1964. But I digress.)

So there I am, trying to be a good sport, and Bob/Bill comes on, calls me a knothead, calls my employer …

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Bradley’s Buzz: More bad news for Georgia Tech hoops

Hewitt’s program takes yet another hit

Georgia Tech announced Wednesday it had “elected to forego” two basketball scholarships for the 2008-2009 season for what it believed would be its failure to meet the NCAA’s Academic Progress Report standard of 925. Sure enough, the just-released APR showed the Jackets falling to 914 in the reporting year of 2007-2008, down from 931 in 2006-2007.

This comes on the heels of Tech’s third losing season over its past four, the possible early loss of Gani Lawal to the NBA and the loss of assistant coach Charlton Young, who became head coach at Georgia Southern. It also follows Hewitt’s assertion that “our academics are in the best shape since I’ve been here.”

His point was that any academic issues might have had — in 2007-2008, say — have since been ironed out. In the same March interview, Hewitt noted that six Jackets made the dean’s list last semester. He also admitted he “tried to fight the APR hard because I thought it could have an effect …

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The Hawks have a choice: Show up or get shown up

Cleveland – Just because they’re playing with house money doesn’t mean the Hawks have nothing to lose. And that’s what Mike Woodson tried to tell them after they were beaten by LeBron James’ team by 27 points in a sobering Game 1.

“We’ve played our way to this point,” Woodson said before practice Wednesday, “and you never know when you’re going to be in this situation again.”

And what had the coach done after Game 1? He’d yelled. Said Woodson: “I kind of lashed out a little bit last night after the game. [The players] don’t want to see me right now. I’ve got to go talk to them.”

It’s fine to set specific goals, even finer to meet them. But what happens when you do what you intended and still have games to play? Do you – picking up the house money image – double down and dare even more greatly, or do you smile benignly and slip your money in your pocket?

These Hawks said they wanted to improve their record, have the home court edge in Round 1 and advance to Round 2. They …

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Live from Cleveland: Chatting about Woody and his Hawks

Cleveland – The Hawks filed back into Quicken Loans Arena this morning for practice, and Mike Woodson admitted he had some fences to mend. “I kind of lashed out at them last night,” the coach said, and when Woodson says “kind of” he means “absolutely, positively.”

Woodson was angry about the second half, in which his team managed 28 points in 24 minutes and, according to Joe Johnson, “gave up.” I’ll address this at greater length in a column, but Woodson’s point — and it’s a good one — is that the team can’t be satisfied with just getting here. Because if it is, it won’t be here long.

Questions linger about Johnson, who took only 10 shots against five turnovers, and whether the Cavs’ defense rendered him ineffective or whether Johnson simply wasn’t forceful enough. And the big question now, same as it was last week: Will Al Horford play?

He didn’t practice this morning, getting treatment on his tender right ankle. Asked Horford’s status for Game 2 on Thursday, Woodson said: …

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Round 2, Game 1: A big night for LBJ, another no-go for Joe

CLEVELAND — They were here — well, not “here” geographically — last spring. The Hawks arrived in Boston at a time when Sports Illustrated was bannering the prospect of a Celtics-Lakers final on its cover, and they nearly gummed up the works. Now they’re on the shore of Lake Erie for what’s being billed as LeBron’s Coronation. So they know how difficult it is.

“It’s tough to steal a series,” Mike Woodson said before tipoff Tuesday. “I’ve seen it done in my 27 years in the NBA, but it’s very tough.”

The Hawks gave Boston all it could handle — in Atlanta. The games in TD Banknorth Garden were rather different and never close. The Celtics won by 23, 19, 25 and 34. And this Game 1, sad to say, tracked that regrettable path. The Hawks lost by 27 and didn’t lead after the first eight minutes.

True, they hung around for 2 1/2 quarters, whereupon the MVP left the visitors in his considerable wake. Credit the Hawks for making LeBron James work, but credit the man himself for working in …

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Live from Game 1: In the court of the wine-and-gold king

Cleveland — We come to you from Quicken Loans Arena, known locally as the Q. To enter the media door of the Q, you walk within 75 yards of the left-field foul pole at the Indians’ ballpark, which used to be known as the Jake (short for Jacobs Field) but is now, I’m guessing, the Prog (short for Progressive Field, which is the new official name).

If you’re looking for positive signs, that’s a pretty solid one. The only time an Atlanta-based professional team has won a title in one of the major North American sports, half the games were played at the Jake. The Braves lost two of the three, but without Pedro Borbon Jr. — remember him? — saving Game 4 of the 1995 World Series, our Atlanta-based professional teams might be 0-for-ever.

(About Borbon: The lefty reliever hadn’t worked in 19 days but was summoned by Bobby Cox when Mark Wohlers yielded a leadoff homer to Manny Ramirez and a subsequent double to Paul Sorrento leading off the ninth. Borbon struck out Jim Thome, struck out …

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Bradley’s Buzz: The Hawks win a series, and people notice!

A change of pace: Glowing Hawk reviews

Back in October, John Hollinger of ESPN.com picked the Hawks to finish 31-51, 13th among the 15 teams in the NBA East. On Sunday he sat in Philips Arena and watched them beat the Miami Heat to advance to Round 2, and it’s safe to say he was duly impressed.

Focusing on Joe Johnson’s breakout game, Hollinger also wrote: “If Atlanta’s All-Star could match Miami’s All-Star [Dwyane Wade} shot for shot, as he finally did Sunday, there was no way Wade’s supporting cast could lift him past Johnson’s.” (Oddly enough, a guy I know had been saying much the same thing. Not that I’m ever right. Though I was, kind of, this time.)

For the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Ira Winderman wrote essentially the same thing and played heavily off Wade’s assertion that the Hawks have five guys who can make a play. And five tends to beat one.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

On SI.com, Bill Trocchi called Zaza Pachulia’s dive-on-the-floor offensive …

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One big step for these Hawks, one giant leap for Atlanta

The franchise that didn’t draft Chris Paul and saw its owners sue another over a trade with Phoenix; the franchise of the wayward bird mascot and Cliff Levingston’s running lefty hook; the franchise that hadn’t won a Game 7 since it was based in St. Louis and a best-of-seven series since 1970 …

That franchise stands among the NBA’s elite eight.

Admit it. You laughed at these guys. Heck, we all laughed. But go ask the preening Pat Riley and the illustrious Dwyane Wade how funny it is to play these reborn Atlanta Hawks. Because they’re different. They’re the kind of team we Atlantans don’t see very often. They’re the kind that rises to its moment.

“This has been the kind of situation in which Atlanta has traditionally had trouble,” said Michael Gearon Jr., a lifelong Hawks’ fan who’s one of the team’s many owners. “And not just us. Other teams, too.”

Well, yes. From Lonnie Smith dallying in the Metrodome to Eugene Robinson getting arrested on Biscayne Boulevard, we’ve grown …

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Live from Game 7: Looking for Mr. Good Game (finally!)

The Celtics and Bulls played seven overtimes over their seven games. The Hawks and Heat haven’t yet seen a second-half lead change. Think about that. Think about a series that has gone the distance but done nothing to stir the senses. (Unless you’re the sort who gets miffed over a missed dunk in a 20-point game.)

Fun with numbers: The Hawks have won three games, each by double figures, and have been outscored by 19 points in the series. They won Game 1 by 26 points and lost Game 6 by 26. (And let’s try to forget Game 3, in which the margin was 29.)

In sum, it has been a series to forget, but that will change today. Because somebody’s going to win this thing, and somebody’s going to remember it. Somebody’s going to be chasing LeBron James in Round 2. And I’m thinking, as I mentioned yesterday, it’ll be the Hawks.

Note the score I predicted. (Note also that, as most of you know, I’m never right about anything.) I said 82-77, which means I believe that finally — finally! — we’re …

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