Live from the home opener of the unbeaten Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks arrived home 2-0, having won at Memphis and Philadelphia. A year ago, we’d have been surprised if the Hawks lost to either of those teams, neither of which made the playoffs. This year — and let’s be frank — we were kind of surprised they didn’t lose at least once.

Saturday night brought the home opener of a strange team at a strange point in its exceedingly strange history. Lest we forget, these Hawks won 53 games last season and were the No. 3 seed in the NBA East. (Ahead of the Celtics, who wound up winning the Eastern Conference crown.)

“I think people have forgotten,” said Jamal Crawford, the reigning NBA sixth man of the year. And lots of them have, or else their memory has been clouded by that staggering loss suffered by this team in Round 2 of the playoffs. The East’s No. 3 seed was swept by the No. 2 seed by a record aggregate spread of 101 points.

Four wipeout losses wiped out those 53 victories and the Round 1 comeback that undid Milwaukee. Four wipeout losses, at least in the minds of those who run this franchise, were enough to bid adieu to its coach, under whom the Hawks had improved five seasons running.

(I pause to digress. Two weeks ago I was on the deafening end of a high-decibel call. The former Hawks’ coach paused in the middle of a round of golf to remind me that he was no longer coaching this team and demanded that his name no longer be invoked. I have considered Mike Woodson’s request, and it is hereby denied.)

The new coach is Larry Drew, who was Woodson’s assistant those six seasons. His campaign for the job was essentially, “I’m not Mike.” This — and the cold economic truth that Drew would come cheap — was enough to sell the Atlanta Spirit on his candidacy. It went over less well with the public.

And when the Hawks went 2-5 in exhibition games, two of them being wipeout losses to Orlando — yep, once more — and Charlotte, it became clear that Drew the New had more riding on the regular season’s opening week than just about any rookie coach ever. To his credit, he led the Hawks to two road wins and bought himself room to breathe.

Said Crawford: “We have a whole new scheme, a whole new everything.”

And that’s true, but untrue. They have a new coach who wants things done differently on offense and defense. (I ask again: If Woodson and Drew diverged this much on the basics of basketball, why were they working together?) They do not, however, have a new team. These are the same Hawks, give or take Josh Powell and Jordan Crawford and Etan Thomas, that we’ve come to know.

But maybe they’re not. Joe Johnson led the team in scoring in Games 1 and 2, but Friday’s victory in Philadelphia seemed a bit of a revelation. Johnson played less than three other starters and took fewer shots than Al Horford and Josh Smith. And the game’s biggest bucket was made by the latter, the sort of 3-point try that has long made Hawks fans cringe.

Recalling Smith’s vital shot before tipoff Saturday, Drew almost cringed himself. Then he smiled: “The basketball gods were with us.”

And that never hurts. As much as sharing the ball and not switching on every screen — Drew’s points of departure from the previous coach — the warm glow of fortune never hurts any team at any level. On Saturday, the Hawks were to play the Washington Wizards, and they were hoping their luck hadn’t deserted them overnight.

And with that, the floor is open for questions, comments and requests not to invoke Mike Woodson’s name anymore than necessary. And if you’re just joining us from Georgia-Florida … well, let me know who won, OK?

279 comments Add your comment

J from the A

October 30th, 2010
6:54 pm

J from the A

October 30th, 2010
6:55 pm

My first first ever! I would like to thank …

ah, nevermind. I only have one thing to say, “GO HAWKS!”

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

who cares?

October 30th, 2010
7:00 pm

No
Basketball
Association

who cares?

October 30th, 2010
7:03 pm

Entertainment. Jerry West even admitted that basketball rules don’t apply so that you can take three steps and dunk, palm the ball on the misdirection,etc….. The “highlight” of Rondo in the playoffs was a joke!

bill

October 30th, 2010
7:04 pm

How many empty seats at tip time?

TigerWoods

October 30th, 2010
7:05 pm

Hawks are who we thought they were. Nothing different than last year. Still need a center or against teams with big men, Hawks will lose. Tonight will expose Hawks at their two weakest spots. Wall will disrobe Bibby and get Teague into foul trouble. McGee and Blache will expose Hawks weakness in center position. I predict a close game, and Wizards winning.

Sonny Clusters

October 30th, 2010
7:10 pm

Clusters was never any good at basketball.

Mark Bradley

October 30th, 2010
7:17 pm

Horford with the first hoop.

Mark Bradley

October 30th, 2010
7:18 pm

A few empty seats. A few hundred

hawkfan

October 30th, 2010
7:18 pm

anyone got a link to catch game online?

Mark Bradley

October 30th, 2010
7:19 pm

Josh Smith drives the baseline on a break and dunks

Mark Bradley

October 30th, 2010
7:21 pm

Bibby with five points in two trips. Hawks up 11-6

Anthony

October 30th, 2010
7:23 pm

Why are the Hawks still here?

1.The Georgia rednecks (most of the state that is) will NEVER support an NBA team. They’re too busy watching their white knights go around on an oval. OR watching their 2nd rate collage football program. You know, the team that even at it’s best is still never going to be the actual best team. Partly because they can’t develop QB’s. I mean, Quincy Carter? David Greene? Matt Stafford (He will never have a good pro career). It speaks for it’s self.

2.The Hawks are never going to accomplish anything with the shoddy ownership. Really, there never even was a marriage between the Hawks and the city. Even in the Nique days. So just do what the Sonics did… Send the team to a place where they hopefully will get new ownership and a city that will support them. Atlanta only cares about ovals and a 2nd rate college program that can’t even keep it’s players out of trouble.

TigerWoods

October 30th, 2010
7:24 pm

Wall not familiar with Bibby. Never leave the Bibster alone to shoot. He is money in the bank. Joe stil misfiring

hawkfan

October 30th, 2010
7:27 pm

link anyone? tyring to watch game online

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Carole Cuthill, Kim Bidwell. Kim Bidwell said: Live from the home opener of the unbeaten Atlanta Hawks: (I ask again: If Woodson and Drew diverged this much on t… http://bit.ly/9GvBnq [...]

Mark Bradley

October 30th, 2010
7:29 pm

I got no linky, hawkfan. I’m deeply sorry.

Mark Bradley

October 30th, 2010
7:30 pm

John Wall: Pretty fast.

Former Wildcat, you know.

Anthony

October 30th, 2010
7:35 pm

Teague is a bust like Marvin Williams. It’s not surprising though… This team has drafted ONE all star since Kevin Willis and Horford was an all star by default basically.

Mark Bradley

October 30th, 2010
7:37 pm

Wash 27, Atl 18 after 1Q.

Hawks not guarding anybody

Stizz

October 30th, 2010
7:38 pm

Anthony, you’re an idiot. The Hawks aren’t going anywhere.

TigerWoods

October 30th, 2010
7:38 pm

Basically, Woody defeated Wizards with the same team 4 times last year. For all the early talk about Drew, clearly he doesnt know his personnel as well as Woody, or would not be taking out Bibby and Joe out so early to let Wizards get this type of lead. And plus, Horford wont be able to help out, because he lacks the height in tonight’s matchups

Mark Bradley

October 30th, 2010
7:39 pm

I’ve just been told Florida beat Georgia. I don’t believe it. Florida never beats UGA.

Anthony

October 30th, 2010
7:40 pm

“The Hawks aren’t going anywhere.”

They’re going to the same place they went after Orlando gave them in the biggest whipping in post season history last year… On Vacation.

The Hawks can’t even stop Washington from stomping all over them.

J.J..M

October 30th, 2010
7:41 pm

Reid Adair

October 30th, 2010
7:42 pm

Mark, are you serious? Mike Woodson called you and asked you not to mention his name anymore? Just when I thought he couldn’t do anything more ridiculous than some of his coaching decisions.

todd grantham

October 30th, 2010
7:42 pm

no rumor there Mark. rumor is Richt will show his class and resign on the post game show.

Mark Bradley

October 30th, 2010
7:43 pm

That’s correct, Reid. Asked several times.

J.J..M

October 30th, 2010
7:43 pm

hey hey hey no name calling

Reid Adair

October 30th, 2010
7:43 pm

Well, Mark, I’m glad to hear that after review, you are denying his request.

todd grantham

October 30th, 2010
7:44 pm

2nd and 10 in overtime and call a run up the middle. bozo is dumber than richt.

Mark Bradley

October 30th, 2010
7:44 pm

There’s no chance Richt resigns, todd. Your succession plan isn’t going to work that fast.

J.J..M

October 30th, 2010
7:45 pm

thorton is owning the hawks

Willy

October 30th, 2010
7:45 pm

Why does it seem that this article is written in the past tense?

Mark Bradley

October 30th, 2010
7:45 pm

I saw most of the second half but none of the overtime.

todd grantham

October 30th, 2010
7:45 pm

Richt: 2010 was bad cause we had a freshman qb. 2011 was bad cause we were adjusting to the 4-3. 2012 and i’m vested so i dont give a rip.

Mark Bradley

October 30th, 2010
7:46 pm

Joe with a great pass to Jamal in transition. Hawks cut it to four. Playing better

todd grantham

October 30th, 2010
7:46 pm

the plan may not work fast, but richt is doing everything he can to make it come to fruition.

GTMustang

October 30th, 2010
7:47 pm

Mark,

Aaron Murray threw a pick in OT. It was a half yard from being a pick 6.

UF kicked the FG to win it.

Just to catch you up.

Mark Bradley

October 30th, 2010
7:47 pm

That’s pretty observant of you, Willy. It’s written that way because it is serving as the print column for the early Sunday edition, and the game won’t be over by the time that edition closes.

TigerWoods

October 30th, 2010
7:47 pm

So Mr Bradley, will you be calling out Joe Johnson for this type of game? He is essentially the highest paid player in NBA, and cant make an outside shot. I mean at least Teague gets paid entry level wages. What is Joe Johnson’s exuse?

Anthony

October 30th, 2010
7:47 pm

When is Georgia going to have a QB that might actually be good at the next level?

(It ain’t Matthew Stafford)

Hmmm

October 30th, 2010
7:47 pm

Mark Bradley

October 30th, 2010
7:47 pm

So: Georgia got it first and threw an interception, and Florida actually made a field goal?

todd grantham

October 30th, 2010
7:48 pm

the loser Richt talks about stopping florida’s interception on the 1 yard line. still lost the game. losers never mention the score.

J.J..M

October 30th, 2010
7:48 pm

I wonder if the hawks turn overs will cut down as they get more use to this new offense because last season they were the best in not turning it over.

todd grantham

October 30th, 2010
7:48 pm

yeah, unbelievable as it sounds.

Stizz

October 30th, 2010
7:48 pm

The Hawks won’t lose tonight Anthony.

Willy

October 30th, 2010
7:49 pm

I was an English major in college. I strangely pick up on things like that.