Here at the HHB Headquarters---things are a bit unsteady. Here is why:
The Atlanta Hawks have won (20) games and it's not yet January 1st.
The Atlanta Hawks are going into games against playoff teams---as the favorite.
The Atlanta Hawks are the team that is described as "steady", "consistent", and "winning".
As you can see, the world---it shakes a little tonight.
We are watching games in which the Hawks look like the seasoned team---clamping down on defense, moving the ball on offense, laughing it up on the bench while enjoying the last seconds of a game that had been in doubt a quarter before.
It's seems so odd---but the feeling is good.
The Hawks did indeed win their 20th game before the new calendar year, the first time since 1987 we were told, by beating what looked to be a spirited Denver Nug-gets team 109-91.
Since 1987? You mean this team? It was the last Mike Fratello-led team to make it to the Conference Semifinals, but it seems like ages ago. Hey wait, it was!
The Hawks made this happen tonight for a few reasons:
1. Mike Bibby
We've been ringing his bell all season at the HHB, and made him #1 on our Official HHB Hawks Power Rankings last week. This game was a great indicator of why. 7-10, 20 points, money from long range, 9 great assists, and total control of the game. In fact, you can trace the next couple of reasons to Bibby if you care to--it's not like we're stopping you.
2. Rhythm and Tempo
The Hawks, especially on this homestand, seem to have such control of the flow of the game that they seem to be doing exactly what the want. Late in the games, the Hawks have applied their will it seems on the teams they are playing. It looked like the Nuggets were going to give the Hawks a full games worth, but the home team controlled the game on the defensive end, which led to smooth scoring ops on the other side.
It seemed like you couldn't smack the smile off of Carmelo Anthony for 3 quarters, despite his poor shooting night, but in what seemed like 30 seconds, the goodness had turned to badness and Anthony, along with Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin, and crew looked like charter members of the Randolph Morris Facial Fan Club.
3. Marvin Williams
We don't know for sure---our game charter was off for the holidays---but it seemed like Marvin Williams drew the assignment of slowing down the ESPN Daily Dime cover boy Carmelo Anthony after his fourth quarter dominance in the NYC Sunday night.
When it was over, Anthony had collected a technical foul for obvious Marvinitus and 13 missed shots from the field (4-17).
4. The Rebounding was Offensive
The Hawks p-wned the glass against the Nuggets with a laughable 44-27 advantage, of which included (15) Offensive Rebounds. Big Ups to Al, Zaza, and Smoove for making it happen there tonight. It was a huge difference.
5. Joe Johnson---Incredible.
We can't say it enough---We hope the ATL is enjoying seeing their superstar (yeah, Sekou Smith, we're with you) night after night. He should be to this generation of Hawks fans what Bernard King was to the Knicks fans in the early-mid 80's. He is a scorer unlike any the Hawks have had, including our namesake.
With the shot clock winding down, Joe Johnson was thrown the ball from about 35 feet away---and buried it.
With Chauncey Billups strutting his stuff and waving off defensive help on Johnson, Joe snapped a rock-a-bye move on Billups and jocked him to get an open shot. Yeah, he missed, but Billups was still drooling when the ball came off the rim.
In the fourth quarter, with the Hawks smelling the blood in the water, Joe took on a double team in corner, only to shake it loose and put the killer sauce down on his long baseline j.
Any basketball fan can appreciate the large amount of money that this player is and love every second (which is a lot these last few games) Johnson is on the floor.
But we here at the HHB are biased--after all, we did compare him to THE playground legend of all time earlier this season.
Seriously folks, Hawks Nation needs to get off our collective rear ends and get some votes in the door for this guy. Having him out of the top 10 in Eastern Guards is the equivalent of having a no-show in the NBA Finals--inexcusable. Go to the Sidebar (Underneath Our Linkage) and Vote Now!
Can We Subscribe Again Next Year?
Maybe it's just us, but the schedule seemed muuuuuch friendlier early on than in year's past, where our early season docket killed us and our good stuff came late in the year and only served to murder our draft slot.
This homestand was tremendous and did a lot for the psyche of the team and everyone in the Hawks Nation, including the HHB, who is still straightening the pictures in the HQ after the earth moved in such incredible ways tonight.
The HHB has no Mona Lisa hanging from the rafters, but does have a signed jersey from the 2002-2003 team, which featured a coach firing before the 1st of the year, not 20 wins. Pithy comments are welcome, as always, in the Comments section.