Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving and Hey, the Hawks are on Tonight!

Gobble. Gobble.

What I want on my Thanksgiving plate is simple.

1. The Hawks as relevant for the entire year as they were for the first seven games of the year.

2. More Al Horford.

3. Beating all comers at home.

4. Beating all the team's we should beat (decided by a judging panel determined by the HHB Council and subject to change to fit any whim the HHB might have) at all venues.

5. Josh Smith's name on a Defensive Player of the Year trophy.

6. Heck, Josh Smith in the lineup.

7. Good health and good timing in all things for the Hawks.

Oh, and pecan pie too, please.

The HHB is clear about one thing---when you leave a vile, desperate place like the lottery after nearly a decade of residence there, you never want to return. And yes, you may imagine bold type and caps for the word never there. The HHB is too erudite to allow such font.

So it begins again tonight with the good guys taking on the Milwaukee Bucks at home. This is the type of game that must be won else allowing those with weaker stomachs to forecast doom and/or gloom for the season's fortunes.

The last two games for the Hawks have been pretty indicitive of a team that is on pace for a .500 or slightly above type season---beating a sub-par team like the Bobcats at home and then getting wasted by a playoff team at their place.

By the way, the HHB wonders if readers have noticed that the weaker teams bring a stronger game to the Hawks than they do against teams that are "better" than they are. This is typical of lottery teams who feel like they can get a win from a team like the Hawks, but not so much from the Celtics or a team of that ilk.

Anyway, the HHB sends out Thanksgiving love to all Bird Watchers and Let's Go Hawks!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Get Well Soon, Al and Josh!!

The HHB would like to send this Get Well Soon card to Josh Smith and Al Horford, especially after seeing the Hawks limp along without them at home against the Wizards Wednesday night.

Oh sure, the final was in the Hawks favor, 91-87, but they needed some Marvin Williams heroics to do it, with the man hitting another clutch three in the right corner late in the game.

(Sidenote: We heard the great Steve Holman's call of Marvin's shot today on First Team on Fox and Holman referred to Williams as "Marvelous Marvin". Now, we looooove Holman, but there was only one Marvelous Marvin, so couldn't we find another alliteration for Marvin? How about Mustache Marvin in honor of his early 80's 'stache or Martian Marvin, since he so resembles the "where's the kaboom" Marvin of Looney Tunes fame? Something needs to be done here---Marvin Hagler is turning over on his sofa as we speak.)

Back to the game and the fact that the Hawks struggled---really, struggled with a Wizards team that can best be described as "bad", and that's being nice. Without Gilbert Arenas, the team lacks any panache, even with the solid Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison. The Wizards started Dee Brown and JaVale McGee against the home team last night, first starts for both and it showed.

Any team with playoff aspiration should have pasted the Wizards or at least had the game well under control, but the Hawks seemed to rely way too much on a series of 1 on 1 moves, usually ending in a jump shot. That the Hawks shot less than 40 percent indicates how largely ineffective the strategy was.

For a bit, I thought that Terry Stotts was calling the shots again for the Hawks, waiting endlessly for the jump shots to go in so that the inside would open up.


Things are tightening up on Joe Johnson as well, with Joe taking a few more than before off balance shots and having to fade away more than the beginning of this season. Only Mike Bibby remained hot, and did so by going 11-17 on twos and burning the Wizards as they tried to press Joe.

The frontcourt, especially defensively, reminded all why Smith and Horford are critical to the team's success, as Zaza Pachulia, Solomon Jones, and company allowed a Princeton Chorus line to the hoop quite often---too often by too many Wizards.

It was the offense of Bibby, the tenacity of the offensive rebounding (Definately a Zaza Specialty), and the aggressive play of Marvin that eventually pulled the game out for the good guys, salvaging things for a bit and ending the painful four game losing streak.

(One more Sidenote: Doesn't it seem like losing streaks go on for at least twice as long as winning streaks of the same size, or in the Hawks case greater? Back to the words.)

Marvin definitely showed more attack to the hoop, which was needed because the other player that goes to the hoop (other than Joe) has been Ronald Murray, who provided one of those games that his former teams have warned us about. But the HHB is not jaded yet---we like Murray's attack style, even if it means he has some of these stinkers (2-11). In fact, his running three to end the half was typical of a player like Murray--you know, a guy that thinks every shot he puts up is "money".

Still, despite the relief of a win, which was definitely needed and appreciated, it was a game that was too often led by the Wizards, and sloppy by every definition of the word as it relates to the game (defensively, offensively---yum, 17 turnovers!). That they were able to settle down somewhat and take care of the team is nice, but the play of the team without their two frontcourt stalwarts makes the HHB nervous and anxiously awaiting their return.

Get Well Soon!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Swept Away

It happens most when you have kids.

You praise them.

You laud their work in a very specific area, be it manners, grades, activities, and then it happens.

They blow it.

The very thing you were most proud of suddenly goes *poof* into thin air as you watch your kid do exactly the opposite of that which you were just congratulating them.

Rewind the to weekend---just as the HHB dared to pen a post exclaiming Atlanta's return to relevance they get caught sleeping in the nest for their game in New Jersey, which was hard fought, but the Hawks just gave out--and then returned to the ATL to lay an enormous Hawk egg all over the Philips Arena floor.

The "effort" threatens to somewhat undo what had been done during their bold 6-0 start, but really, fans and writers shouldn't jump to those conclusions yet.

A downtick was expected the day that Josh Smith went down. No team loses the second biggest piece to the puzzle and continue to excel to the degree that the team was excelling.

So now there has been a setback, and just like the test that the team needed to conquer when faced with whether or not they would build off of the Celtics series momentum they can now answer if they have the maturity to fight through Smith's injury and the negativity of a three game losing streak and use those things to get back on a winning streak.

Observations While Sitting on a Wire:

They live by the three and die by it. The Hawks have been uncanny from long range, but they seemed to get too dependant on the bomb and need to work on being aggressive to the cup. Fatigue will have a lot to do with that, but hey, it's an 82 game season and doing the right things in spite of the inevitable tiredness that goes with it is the key to being a winning club.

Al Horford needs to understand that the team needs his production every single night. He brings his heart, for sure, but unlike last season when he can blend into the fabric that is the Hawks night in and night out, he has to make his presence felt and be on the court every night. He needs to not hurry his moves to the basket and the following shot, and he needs to understand how tight the game is being called so that he can adjust his energy when it comes to reaching in, slapping at the ball, etc.

You can't depend on the bench to be your consistency on a nightly basis. The play of Ronald Murray, Mo Evans, and company can be very productive, but they are to be the extra toppings to the sundae that is supposed to be the starting lineup. So, defensively as well as offensively, the starting 5 have to be there, especially with Smith out. It seems as if the Hawks are depending on the bench's production, and that is parellel to a worker who counts on his bonus like it's his paycheck---a bad idea.

Looking forward, the HHB is confident that what was seen on weekend was a natural comedown to what was a hot start, and that is was not a return to past years' inefficiency. The team gets it's next shot at Indiana, a shot to prove that the team is truly different and that what was built over the team's first seven games wasn't swept away by a couple of bad ones.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Welcome Back to Relevance, Atlanta!

The whole reason why we started covering the Hawks from the beginning was that there was a dearth of any information about the team that wasn't emitted from Jeff Denberg's coverage at the AJC or the uninformative, banal, low hanging fruit comments that would come from the national "coverage" of the team.

An amazing thing happens when a team turns the corner and proves themselves as winners, even for a short period of time.

The comments change. The national template is switched to communicate something that is now positive about your team versus the claptrap most would spew without even lifting an eye or ear to see if what they were blurting was factual.

And so it has been with much anticipation that Hawks fans everywhere has waited, and waited, and waited for this to occur. Throughout the 90's the team was treated even as some kind of afterthought while winning, as if the way that Lenny Wilkens went about winning wasn't good enough for the media. Playoff games would be televised at the worst possible times, and on the worst possible stations. The team would be largely ignored until they had to pay attention, and then was quickly forgotten once out.

In fact, it has been since days of Dominique that the Hawks were more than just a place holder in the standings or nightly recaps. Almost 2 entire decades of existing in a sort of basketball purgatory, exposed only to be ridiculed and laughed at by an NBA Nation.

Not that bothered the Hawks faithful too much, but it has been a bore to hear the same stuff over and over again. It would be as if you had the last name "Butts" and you heard the same joke for the 1,278,497th time.

And then, late last season, the team traded for Mike Bibby. It was the kind of move that other teams in contention had wished they had made. Suddenly, it was the Hawks on a steal end of a deal that made complete sense. The playoffs looked real. The team was gaining identity.

The playoff run against the Celtics was more than anybody could have thought for the team. Naturally, as Boston more than held their own against the Hawks in games 1 and 2, the national pundits continued their tired oratory and stand up material about the Hawks. But, as games 3 and 4 showed, this team had some players who could go. But just as quickly as the Hawks had gained credibility with others, it amazingly evaporated with another lopsided defeat in Game 5. It was only after another huge game in Game 6 that people permanently noted this team and wanted to see what would happen to this upstart next season.

After an offseason of discontent, launching into this strong, character defining start has validated the team's growth and standing within the league. One need only look around the incredibly scientific Power Rankings around the league to understand where the Hawks have gone to on this incredible ride.

And the feeling we get as we check in to all these places that had long reserved a table at Derision Corner for the Birds? Some of it is pride, elation, and excitement. But mostly, it a nice feeling of relevance, a feeling long since absent from our hearts and minds, and a welcome change to the NBA season, for as long as it lasts.

End of the Road

If all the losses are going to be like the 103-102 last second loss to the Celtics in Boston, then the Official HHB High Definition Viewing Center is going to need more Tums in the candy dish.

If the 6 game winning streak was going to end, it was fitting that it be the way it went down Wednesday night, with the Hawks swinging away at the Celtics, like a tired fighter who has grunted out a 15 rounder, knowing that he has to keep dealing the licks while taking them as well.

It was clear early that the Hawks were going to have their work cut out for them on this night.

1. They were coming off a tough victory in Chicago the night before, arriving in Boston @ 3am.

2. They were still without Josh Smith.

3. The Celtics were rested and ready for the team that not only gave them the biggest fight in the playoffs, but were also atop the Eastern Conference leaderboard going into the evening.

After the tip, it was clear that another obstacle was going to be placed on the Hawks, and that would be that they wouldn't be able to play the physical defensive game that they had established over the first six games. Calls were tight on both sides, which would seem to favor the more perimeter, finesse game Celtics, whose best three players would prefer to face the basket while scoring.

Even still, the Hawks emerged with energy, even taking a 16 point lead in the second quarter. But it became clear as the game wore on that the Hawks were on their heels, hanging on as our tired pugilist, taking the Celtics best punches while sticking a few of their own.

The Hawks were dealt another blow when it was known that Zaza Pachulia would not return after injuring his shoulder in a collision with Glen Davis. That, combined with Al Horford's foul trouble in the game left the Hawks even more shorthanded and without the energy that the pair can provide inside.

In the end though, the shooting of Joe Johnson, Maurice Evans, and Marvin Williams gave the home team more than they bargained for, as the mounted a valiant charge at the end, with Marvin tagging a bold 3 pointer to take a 1 point lead with 7 seconds to go.

Alas, as has been done many times before, the Celtics found a way to get the ball into the hands of Paul Pierce one more time, and yet again he made a team pay, hitting the game winner with .5 seconds to go.

The Hawks were flatfooted, shorthanded, and playing the Celtics game---and yet, unlike the spanking this team took last season in the playoffs in Boston, this time the Hawks were bringing the spank themselves---and a last second, 1 point loss against all odds is a fitting way for this gutsy team to take their first "L".

Flying High:

Marvin Williams---Every year we hear about some guy adding something to his game, how it's going to benefit the team, blah, blah, blah---well, there is nothing blah about the way that Marvin Williams is shooting the three this year. Coming into this season Marvin was 25-108--so far this season, he is 8-11 and looks good doing it. And to hit the potential game winner without hesitation and with such precision, Marvin deserves some kudos for the effort.

Joe Johnson---He came out hot early and kept the Hawks in it late. In a game where in the second half, and especially in the fourth quarter the Hawks were not moving the ball well and clearly tired, Johnson kept the team going, creating for himself and others. 28 points, 7 assists, and 1 turnover was a good night, even if he pulled a -8 for his 42 minutes of work.

Maurice Evans---Mo was big down the stretch, hitting a pair of threes and scoring 13 points on 4-7 shooting, despite being one of many Hawks with 5 fouls.

Dead Birds:

Al Horford---Oh Al, did you need a rest from the night before so bad that you had to commit silly foul after silly foul? Reverting back to last year's mistakes, Horford took himself out of a contest that sorely needed some life in the second half by reaching in, leaving his feet on defense, and being out of position enough to stay in foul trouble all night. This, even when Woody pulled his famous "2 fouls in the First Q= No more first half play" on Horford. For shame.

Home Cooking---Ok, Celtic fans---we know that the other team always gets the calls in your building (mmhmmm)---The game being called tight helped the older, not as athletic Celtics maintain their own tempo, get to the foul line, and get the Hawks into some serious foul trouble across the board. Hey, they are the champs, and they deserve the breaks there---and the Hawks almost had them anyway.

View from the Nest:

The Hawks get a needed day off before starting another back to back/home and home with the New Jersey Nets. The team was clearly stagnant in a way that they haven't been this season. The day off will help.

We shall see about the disposition of Pachulia, but suffice to say, the Hawks cannot withstand any more losses on the frontline.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What Do You Say, Al?

The immortal words of Caddyshack's Judge Smails rang throughout the HHB compound Tuesday night, as Al Horford put the Hawks on his back and led the now (can you feel it?) 6 and 0 upstarts into and through the Chicago Bulls, 113-108.

We found out Tuesday what Mike Woodson's plan for replacing Josh Smith in the lineup was. He hath turneth loose the beast.

Horford was simply everywhere during his 41 minutes of play. He pulled down 17 rebounds, scored a staggering 27 points on 18 shots (why, that's three games worth!), and blocked 6 shots. He was omnipresent around the glass at both ends, his energy was contagious and it clearly confounded the Bulls, who couldn't seem to keep up.

They sent Joakim Noah, then Aaron Gray---to no avail. At one point on a break, Ben Gordon dared to attempt to disrupt a Horford slam, only to be assessed a foul and give Al a chance at a 3-pt play. After finishing the dunk, Horford struck his familiar flex pose. This time, it seemed as if he was finally unwrapped to begin to fulfill his purpose in a Hawks uniform.

If it seems like some HHB hyperbole, it's probably because Horford was the endorsed choice of the HHB to be the third selection in the 2007 draft due to in some part some Gator pride, but mostly due to the fact that Horford represented an addition that the Hawks had not had in a long time; a bonafide post player on both ends who can change the game with his production, energy, fundamentals, and winning attitude.

To the HHB, it's no secret that the Hawks have begun to win games they would once lose. Tuesday against Chicago, for one game at least, Woodson turned Horford loose, and the game was won.

Flying High:

Gotta give it up to Mike Bibby and Mo Evans. Their 3-point shooting counteracted a dubious defensive "effort" in the fourth quarter and kept the Hawks two possessions ahead down the stretch. Evans ended shooting 7-9 and 17 points, while Bibby cashed in 22 points and 5 assists.

Joe Johnson---Yes, the man was not hot from the floor (4-16) but made many great passes out of the post, leading to some of his 8 assists. His defense was solid and forced the Bulls into many, many late shots clock shots. Nice to know the team can win by 5 on the road against a supposed playoff contender without Johnson looking good shooting anything (Yes, Joe--even the free throws rattled in tonight).

Zaza Pachulia---The Hawks decided to open the game taking advantage of the Hawks size advantage (seems weird to even type), and used Horford and Pachulia inside, resulting in Zaza's 12 point/8 rebound performance and Tyrus Thomas' banishment to the bench after an ineffective 21 minutes on the floor.

Team effort---It was a night where it seemed like the Bulls threw everything at the Hawks and even brought a lot of energy (Umm--That Derrick Rose is pretty good) and it still wasn't good enough in their own building. The Bulls announcers were almost apoplectic that the Hawks were this good, even compared to last season's playoff version. That the Hawks were able to overcome that, on a night where Johnson was way off with his shot, means some pretty strong things here early in the season.

Dead Birds:

Bench Play---Aside from Evans, the rest of the bench went for 5 Flip Murray points. At one point between the first and second quarters, Woodson had at least 4 bench players out there for about six minutes. The results were ugly in a way that is best left defined by Acie Law's junior varsity-esque (-17) in 8 minutes of play. And remember, the Hawks still won the game!

View from the Nest:

There was some sloppy offensive play from the Hawks at times, but they pulled through and have already managed a split of this 4 game roadie with games against Boston Wednesday night and New Jersey Friday to go. To play a back to back with Boston being the second team is a challenge. Horford will be hard pressed to bounce back even with his young legs. He was clearly gassed as he tossed two late free throws short--no legs at all. The bench will have to play more effectively, else the Celtics will treat the Hawks as unkind as they did during the heralded First Round in the playoffs. And, the C's have an axe to grind against the team that took them to seven in the first place.

Will Zaza still be spunky? Can Al bring it for 40+ minutes again? Can the timely shots continue to fall? The answer better be yes for all three, else Josh Smith's absence and the skill of the champs might equal the end to an undefeated beginning.

The streak will end on some night, but it wasn't Tuesday night. Hawks win.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ummmm---Are You Seeing This?

In a game on the road where Josh Smith was absent, Joe Johnson and the team were off target shooting 37 percent, and the bench was outscored 42-21, the Hawks continued to be bulletproof in 2008-09, beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 89-85.

Really, the HHB had to feel somewhat for the Thunder fans because, as Hawks fans, we understand what it's like to outplay, outhustle, and outshoot a team at home only to watch that team high fiving on their way to the locker room after the seemingly inevitable conclusion had been reached--a disappointing loss.

To say the Hawks didn't have their fastball is misleading---they didn't have a good curve or changeup, either. It seemed to be a classic case of playing down to the level of their competition, especially on the defensive end, where Thunder players were running unchecked coast to coast, through the lane, and to the hoop for an easy layup seemingly every other possession.

To that end, the Thunder seemed in control until Flip Murray woke up in the fourth and scored nine straight points, and then Josh Smith took control of Al Horford for an amazing block of Kevin Durant in the lane. The Hawks gained the momentum of the game and never let it go, putting the victory cherry on the sundae when Al grabbed a rebound, spun, and lobbed it down the court to Joe, who flushed the hoop and the Thunder in one two-handed swoop.

It is refreshing to know that the team can win without playing it's best, it's a sign of a good team. Chances are you will not always be at the top of your game, but teams have to grind through those nights and give themselves a chance to win, which is exactly what the Hawks did.

However, tempting fate won't go for more than one game in a row, and with the Hawks getting into the meat of the road trip now, they will have to execute better defensively than they did against the Thunder to continue this great run.

Flying High:

Ronald "Flip" Murray, who did his best Vinny Johnson impersonation (now with defense!) and shot the Hawks back into the game at 77 all in the fourth.

Al Horford, who did his best Josh Smith impersonation (missed threes sold separately) and added five blocks to another double digit rebound game---now if the coaches would call a couple more post plays for him.....

Marvin Williams, who still looks a little drunk sometimes on the court (just in his moves, not his breath---not actually questioning his sobriety), but attacked on a number of occasions and had a staggering +15 in this game. Hey, that led the team!

Joe Johnson---Why? Because he's freaking clutch, that's why. He had shots rimming out, just missing, and he forced a couple---but he was still in control of his game and his presence in the post set up a clutch three from Marvin as the Thunder collapsed on him in the lane, he kicked out and the ball worked around to the corner, where Williams was able to bang down the three.

Dead Birds:

Hawks defense---I know---how that this be bad if they shot less than their 41 percent average? It was the embarrassing level of layups that the Thunder executed almost uncontested.

Team effort level----For the first time this season, except for the first quarter of the Sixers game, the Hawks were completely getting outhustled and outworked. The Thunder were the aggressors almost the whole game until the Hawks woke up in the fourth. With any team that had more firepower, the Hawks would have been down like they were in Q1 against PHL. Big.

View From the Nest:

The unbeaten streak is likely to come to a close during this roadtrip, especially given the fact that whenever a team loses a key player like Smith is to the Hawks, while a bench can provide a brief spark, the overall effectiveness of the team does take it's toll. That the Hawks did beat OKC was important---teams that have playoff aspirations have to find ways to win those games, but expecting a sweep of Chicago, Boston, and New Jersey would be a little much.

But for now---it's an amazing 5-0, five games over .500 for those of us who attended Florida---It's a great time to be a Hawks fan.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Everyone Is Taking Notice of the Hawks

Watching PTI after the Hornets game (HHB Tivo'd that as well), we were treated to a segment of their "Over/Under" game which posed the question of whether the Hawks would be over or under 41 wins for the season (to those of us who went to the University of Florida, that would be .500).

Both Tony and Dan Le Batard said that, based on the Hawks finish last season, their run against the Celtics, and their impressive wins on the road at Orlando and New Orleans, that yes, why shouldn't they be a good bet to do this.

Also, Tony added that while the Hawks did lose Josh Childress in the off-season, "He's not Magic Johnson." More ESPN love.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Raptors and their new shiny Twin Towers frontcourt of Chris Bosh and Jermaine O'Neal rolled into Philips Arena and got treated to the new and energized Hawks. The same defensive effort, the physicality, and the hustle was on display for the Raptors, who got frustrated by the fact that, surprisingly, the Hawks were allowed to play as Physical As They Wanna Be, though not cheap shots, and before they knew what hit them, the Hawks were up 12 at the half.

Unfortunately, during that first half, the Hawks watched as Josh Smith came down wrong on his ankle, rolled it, and is now going to miss a month with the dreaded HIGH ankle sprain.

Now, immediately, Hawks fans had to wonder how the team would respond to their game changer on defense not being able to return. After all, as the fine research at Peachtree Hoops (also linked in the HHB Bird Feeds area) has shown, the Hawks have been a very good defensive team thus far (Top 5 in fact), but they are sinister when Smith is in the game---top of the line good defensively. And there is no doubt, as the HHB has written already, that the key to this good start has been 100 percent related to the defensive effort. Even in the PHL game, when the Hawks were sloppy defensively was when they got down, and it took them the whole game to get back on top after just ONE poor defensive effort.

Now, with Smith out, what would the Hawks do? If one quarter of poor basketball with Smith was enough to drop the Hawks 20+ points behind the Sixers, what would the team do with Smith now out?

The verdict was this: Though the Hawks definitely missed Smith's shot blocking presence, the combination of extreme effort and taking care of the defensive boards kept the Hawks afloat, even with both Horford and Pachulia limited by foul trouble. Solomon Jones and Randolph Morris (still with that new player smell!) picked up the slack, though their +/- numbers were alright at best, and the Hawks ended up cruising to a fairly uncontested 110-92 victory.

Afterwards, everyone took notice. ESPN, NBATV, and even the Official Dad of the HHB sent an email to jump on the bandwagon, demanding a Hawks hat while remarking "4-0!!".

Smith will now be out a month's worth of games, though if we know him, we believe he'll make the usual youthful error of trying to come back too soon, but in the meantime the Hawks have to try and rise up, even in his absence.

HHB Prediction? The team will valiantly try to perform to the same levels as they have with Smith, but will fall short a few times. It's only natural. Josh Smith, who has had plenty of detractors, is a game changing force for the Hawks, and no amount of heart, which this team definitely has shown thus far, will be able to replace that.

But still----4 and 0---they have that going for them, which is nice.

Friday, November 7, 2008

ESPN Still Loves Them Some Childress

It seems like 1999, but it was only a few months ago that Josh Childress took his game overseas to Greece. ESPN promptly put Chilldress on PTI, a show that he would likely have never been asked to give Five Good Minutes for had it not been for the Greek's fat cash.

Even a 3-0 start from the good guys hasn't gotten the story off the ESPN radar as Outside the Lines has decided to catch up with our favorite renegade.

The whole show is featured on Sunday morning, but there is a story already featured here and there is a video preview of our missing Hawk.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


The subject line says it all and tells a story that Hawks fans haven't been able to tell since 1997, which would be a 3-0 start to the season.

We have the game waiting for us on our DVR when we get back to the HHB Official High Definition Viewing Center to see all that went right for the good guys Wednesday night, but the details don't matter right now. It's 3-0, and no amount of hand wringing or common sense can enter into the picture right now. It's 3-0 and it's been a long time in coming for all of us.

We expect we'll see a repeat of what we saw in the Orlando game and after the first quarter of the Philly game, which would be a solid defensive effort, hustle play, and timely baskets. That's a pretty tasty recipe for winning.

3-0---sounds nice---heck, just having a three game winning streak is a good enough feeling for the HHB, much less seeing numbers under "won" without a scratch under "lost".

To commemorate the effort, we offer footage of a player integral in the success of that 1997 team and recent first time American voter, Dikembe Mutombo--an all time favorite of the HHB. Enjoy.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Joe Johnson = Lamar Mundane

2 down, 80 to go, right?

In a game that tested the team's mental strength, the Hawks slowly eroded a 23 point first half deficit, took their first lead with less than 2 minutes to go, and then let Joe Johnson seal the comeback with a 32 foot bomb that should be described as clutch, giving the Hawks a 95-88 comeback win over the Philadelphia 76ers Saturday night and leaving the Hawks with an as yet unblemished 2-0 record.

Ah yes, Joe Johnson. No slow start for him this year. In both games, Joe has buoyed the Hawks with his silent scoring early on and then applied the killer sauce at the end of the game.

During the Magic telecast, former coach and current analyst Matt Goukas remarked that Johnson was miscast as the go-to man and was best suited being a "3rd or 4th option, like he was with the Suns".

No offense intended to Mr. Goukas, but he's nuts. Johnson is miscast by a lot of media types like Goukas as a good player on a bad team---getting stats when it really doesn't matter. It's so wrong.

Johnson isn't merely a free shooter who checks the scoreboard in the second half to see how many points he has and if he should hijack the game to make sure he gets his. (That would be your own Reggie Theus, Mr. Goukas, during his run with your expansion club)

Johnson is one of the more versatile scorers in the league, able to score from anywhere (including 32 feet away, apparently) and look easy doing it. His scoring in the lane is so unrushed, so soft, that it really doesn't matter who is in there when he shoots.

Johnson buried 35 points on 14-23 shooting (yow!) and dumped in 5 assists as well. His dunk to give the Hawks the lead with less than two minutes to go and his 3 point dagger was indicitive of his desire to take the big shot and capability to be clutch, which was seen in the playoffs last year and is pouring over into 08-09.

You make make him 3rd or 4th option, Mr. Goukas, but when a 35 footer comes raining out of the sky, it'll wire you up.