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Welcome to the Hawks BasketBlog! This is where you can come to read analysis and commentary on the Hawks as well as topics around the league. Check us out throughout the season as we will be posting new material on the Hawks, the NBA, and maybe a few other subjects as well. Want to participate? Submit questions and comments to us at hawks.mailbag@atlantaspirit.com and we will try to answer as many as we can!

Note: the opinions expressed here are not those of the Atlanta Hawks organization or of the NBA.


Big (Blog) Night At Philips

Tonight is going to be a big night at Philips (as I may have just written in the title to this post). Not only are the Mamba-led Lakers in town, but tonight is our first-ever Blog Night as well. Over a dozen Atlanta-area bloggers are signed up to come down, laptops in tow, to provide you with their thoughts and analysis of the game as it happens (or soon thereafter, it's entirely up to them).

The Hawks will be looking for their second win in two days, thanks to yesterday's 101-99 win at New Jersey courtesy of your favorite braided Hawk and mine, Tyronn Lue. Lue downplayed his efforts slightly when I spoke to him about his game-winning buzzer-beater this morning, but if you watch the highlight of the play (which I have done several times already this morning), you can see just how excited the team (and Lue himself) was to come out of the Meadowlands with such an important victory.

Joe Johnson once again was spectacular, continuing his All-Star retribution tour by dropping 37 points on the Nets and their two All-Stars Vince Carter and Jason Kidd, but this game was a team effort. Everyone who played chipped in, including Speedy Claxton, who continues to show a little rust from his layoff. His offense may not be where he'd like it to be yet, but defensively, Claxton made two plays yesterday that were complete difference makers - the charge he drew late in regulation against a streaking Kidd, and then his pilfering of Carter with 33 ticks left in overtime and the Hawks clinging to a one-point lead.

Neither of the Hawks floor-generals are even close to 100% right now, but yesterday gave a tantalizing preview once again of some of the things they are capable of when they are up and running.

Tonight's game is going to be a tough one, no doubt, as any game is against a team with Kobe Bryant on the roster. Hawks assistant coach Greg Ballard said in breaking down the Lakers this morning that Bryant isn't the only one to focus on - Lamar Odom and company will be every bit as important to focus on tonight in order for the Hawks to win.

We have seen the Hawks play much improved basketball over the last couple weeks, winning five of their last seven. Still, this is the kind of game they need to win to show they have really put the slump of late December-early January to rest.

Can they get it done? Join us and a chunk of the Atlanta blogging community tonight at Philips and find out!

See you there!

-- The Web Guy | 2:45 p.m. 02/05/07 | Have a comment?


The Wright Answer

It's easy to think that any high-scorer question involving the current Hawks roster would elicit a Joe Johnson answer. Many times, that will be the case. However, today is not one of those days. The answer to which current Hawk has scored the most in a single game against the Lakers is Lorenzen Wright, who once torched the Lakers for 32 points and 15 rebounds on Dec. 26, 1997 as a member of the LA Clippers.

Joe Johnson was another popular answer, and while he has done well against the Lakers (he poured in 30 earlier this season when the teams met in LA), he fell a basket shy of his teammate. Other high scorers against the Lakers are Josh Childress with 21, Speedy Claxton with 22, and Josh Smith with 21 as well.

Congrats to David R., who wins tickets to tonight's Lakers game. Here's to hoping Wright can duplicate that feat again in a winning effort!

-- The Web Guy | 2:15 p.m. 02/05/07 | Have a comment?


Trivia Time!

The Web Guy is a big trivia fan - loves trying to stump his co-workers with various bits of random information throughout the day. So, to have a little fun this year, we are going to be asking a trivia question the morning of every home game - usually around 10:00 am. At that point, you are free to email in your answer to that day's question. Around 2:00 p.m., we will look through all the responses, and one correct answer will be chosen at random as the winner. (Click here for official rules).

And what will they receive for their efforts, you ask? Why, they will get two free tickets to that night's home game! Hooray!

It's that simple! So remember to come to the Hawks BasketBlog every morning of every home game for a chance to win tickets for that night's game! Note: Tickets to weekend games will be given away on Fridays.

Okay, take a look at today's question and give it a shot!

Trivia Question For 02/05 Game:

Who on the current Hawks roster has scored the most points in a single game against the Lakers? How many points did he score?

-- The Web Guy | 10:00 a.m. 02/05/07 | Have a comment?


Frustration Over Joe's All-Star Snub

First things first. The answer to today's trivia question is Hall of Famer Bob Pettit, who was named MVP an amazing four times in the NBA All-Star game - 1956, 1958, 1959, and 1962. Congrats to Seth F. for winning tickets to tonight's game against the Raptors.

Now that that's out of the way, a few words if you don't mind about last night's injustice. Clearly, as Hawks fans, we all believed Joe Johnson deserved a spot on the Eastern Conference squad. While it was no surprise he didn't factor into the mix in the fan voting due to the team's lack of a national presence, the thought around the office was that because the Eastern coaches would be doing the balloting, they would vote for Joe since they are the ones double- and triple-teaming him on a nightly basis (yet still giving up 25.3 ppg).

However, it wasn't meant to be. I'll admit it, I'm disappointed. I won't say I'm outraged, because it's not like they put a bunch of complete stiffs on the squad, but I honestly think that no player in the league got worked more than JJ did. Carmelo Anthony leads the league in scoring, but he got suspended for 15 games for the Knicks brawl, so it's not a surprise. Michael Redd certainly is deserving, but he has been hurt for several weeks now and I suppose if he is out of sight, he is out of mind.

I have heard the notion before that players who put up stats for bad teams are not as worthy for All-Star consideration, given that they have to score so much because no one else on the team is capable. Well, that is certainly true in some cases, but consider this about Joe's season so far. Despite being a marked man every time down the court, and despite constantly battling through extra defenders, and despite missing several of his most offensive-minded teammates for long stretches of the season, JJ is currently shooting 48% from the field - a career-best. Joe's numbers are not empty, nor are they put together thanks to a series of meaningless baskets in garbage time. He has carried the Hawks on his back for much of this season, and he should have been rewarded for his efforts with a trip to Vegas.

In the grand scheme of things, maybe this is for the best. Much like Josh Smith, Marvin Williams (another snub for the Rookie-Sophomore game), and Josh Childress upped their play in the second half of the last two seasons after getting rejected from All-Star festivities, maybe this will cause Joe to raise his game to an even higher level (if that's possible).

Anyway, I know you are probably as upset about this as we are, so if you like, please feel free to voice your opinions - the NBA has set up a mailbox where you can write in who you think got left out (thanks to reader Elizabeth H. for pointing us to this). Let em hear it!

Meanwhile, back on the court, the Hawks have a very big game tonight against the Raptors. The home team can snag their second series win of the season with a victory, as they are currently 2-1 against Toronto on the year. The Raptors are playing incredibly well of late, led by January's Eastern Conference Player of the Month Chris Bosh. Stopping him and the rest of the team from getting out on the break will be important tonight, as we heard from assistant coach Larry Drew earlier today.

I think you are going to see an angry team tonight, out to make a statement that they are tired of being overlooked. Well, the only way to change that is by winning, and a W tonight would make it three straight and five-of-six.

Come out tonight and let's show Joe and the gang that we appreciate them, even if no one else seems to.

See you tonight!

-- The Web Guy | 2:15 p.m. 02/02/07 | Have a comment?


Trivia Time!

The Web Guy is a big trivia fan - loves trying to stump his co-workers with various bits of random information throughout the day. So, to have a little fun this year, we are going to be asking a trivia question the morning of every home game - usually around 10:00 am. At that point, you are free to email in your answer to that day's question. Around 2:00 p.m., we will look through all the responses, and one correct answer will be chosen at random as the winner. (Click here for official rules).

And what will they receive for their efforts, you ask? Why, they will get two free tickets to that night's home game! Hooray!

It's that simple! So remember to come to the Hawks BasketBlog every morning of every home game for a chance to win tickets for that night's game! Note: Tickets to weekend games will be given away on Fridays.

Okay, take a look at today's question and give it a shot!

Trivia Question For 02/02 Game:

Joe Johnson was denied an All-Star selection, but it wasn't always that way for the Hawks franchise. What former Hawk holds the record for most All-Star MVP performances, and how many times did he win it?

-- The Web Guy | 10:20 a.m. 02/02/07 | Have a comment?


The Fan Correspondent On A Successful January

By going 8 and 7 this January, these young Hawks have earned their first winning month since April 2004. That's not a typo. It really has been that long. Without an abysmal December, we're talking about a team with a .500 record, sitting comfortably in the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference. And if that was the case, do you think the debate would be over whether Joe Johnson deserves a spot on this year's all-star team or is worthy of MVP consideration? Would the Hawks be playing in nationally televised games on TNT and ESPN? Would Josh Smith be the favorite for the NBA's Most-Improved Player award? Would the US Government hire Jack Bauer to find Osama Bin Laden? Would a Major League Soccer team pay one player $250 million ... to play soccer?!?

Okay, I better calm down. These are of course all big what-ifs, except for what happened to Mr. Beckham, who currently is pulling his best Scrooge McDuck in "Duck Tales" by swimming in a piggy bank full of British pounds. But these scenarios aren't that far-fetched ... are they? Without injuries to Josh Smith, Joe Johnson, Josh Childress, Tyronn Lue and Speedy Claxton, and coming out on the opposite end of a few close ball games, we're talking about a team that's contending for a playoff spot. I'm well aware that injuries are a part of life in the NBA, but the timing of these injuries is what truly hurt this team. After starting off on the right foot, and discovering winning team chemistry, the Hawks began to lose players to the I.R. like Michael Jackson's losing faces. And now that the Hawks are back at full strength, the evolution of this team is back on track.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not making excuses for where the Hawks stand today. But the Hawks are in a nice groove right now due to some minor tweaks with the lineup and the fact that virtually the entire roster is healthy. There's no doubt that Coach Woodson and the boys still need to find ways to execute down the stretch and pull out close games, and avoid ugly patches like the back-to-back losses against the Bobcats. But with several winnable games remaining before the all-star break, I'm hopeful we can carry that momentum into the second half of the season.

By the way, if you have not had the opportunity to listen to the tag-team of Steve Holman and 3-D (Dennis Scott) on 790 The Zone, you really should. These two are upbeat, always entertaining and are not afraid to point out what the Hawks are doing wrong. That sort of objective point of view sprinkled with heavy dosages of humor (and several indecipherable comments by 3-D) make for an entertaining listen.

Last, a quick suggestion for the people at Philips Arena who are responsible for the sound effects and in-game music - add the sound effect of Staples' "Easy Button." As part of its recent ad campaign, Staples is selling these plastic noise-making buttons, which, when pushed down, says in a loud, mechanical voice "THAT WAS EASY!" This sound effect could be made over the Philips Arena loud-speakers every time our MVP Joe Johnson scores a bucket. Imagine ... Joe Johnson penetrates the lane, draws contact and drops in one of his signature floaters which tickles the net. This is followed by the crowd cheering, and a "THAT WAS EASY!" noise over the loud-speakers. I don't know about you, but I'd find that pretty funny. Of course, Philips and the Hawks would need Staples' permission for this, but how could they resist such a proposition? Joe's always good for about 26 a game, and I'd like for someone to point out another NBA player who makes the game look easier than Joe (except for Jesus Shuttlesworth, of course). Heck, Staples should pay the Hawks for this sort of exposure.

-- Skippy, The Fan Correspondent | 2:00 p.m. 02/01/07 | Have a comment?


Let's Go Out A Winner

The Hawks have a chance to accomplish something tonight they haven't had since April of 2004 - a winning record for a month. Sitting at 7-7 after Monday's win over Orlando, only Baron Davis and Golden State stand in the way of making January a bona fide success. Congrats, by the way, to Nick R., today's trivia winner, for correctly answering that the last time the Hawks had a winning record in the month of January was in 1997-98, when they were 9-8.

Golden State presents a different matchup for the Hawks than either of their last two opponents, Orlando and Philly, as we heard in previewing the game with Hawks assistant Bob Bender. Philly beat us by getting inside, and Orlando lost because they tried to do so and were unsuccessful. The Warriors are a perimeter team though, with lots of guys who can score in Baron Davis, Monta Ellis (who eschewed going to Mississippi State and declared for the draft out of high school - jerk), and two Hawks tormentors from this season, Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson.

Whereas Lorenzen Wright, Zaza Pachulia and company were instrumental to victories over Orlando thanks to their defense, tonight it will be more on Joe Johnson and the rest of the perimeter defenders to keep Golden State in check. They will also have to help out Tyronn Lue, who will play but is still hampered by his lingering groin injury. We talked to T-Lue today in our recurring "The Show With The Show" feature, and he says he is about 70% right now.

Tonight is also Joe Johnson's last night to make a final impression on the NBA coaches charged with voting him onto the Eastern Conference All-Star team (the reserves will be announced Thursday night). In case you haven't seen it, here is a highlight reel put together by the Hawks PR staff and sent out to the 14 Eastern Conference coaches who will do the voting.

He has put on a late push to make the team (I have a feeling Orlando's Brian Hill will certainly vote for him, seeing as he averaged 30 ppg in four games against them this season), but the competition will be fierce.

Last season Joe exploded for 42 points, a career-high, in a 113-106 win over Golden State at Philips Arena. Here's to hoping we see a repeat of both of those tonight.

See you there!

-- The Web Guy | 2:15 p.m. 01/31/07 | Have a comment?


Trivia Time!

The Web Guy is a big trivia fan - loves trying to stump his co-workers with various bits of random information throughout the day. So, to have a little fun this year, we are going to be asking a trivia question the morning of every home game - usually around 10:00 am. At that point, you are free to email in your answer to that day's question. Around 2:00 p.m., we will look through all the responses, and one correct answer will be chosen at random as the winner. (Click here for official rules).

And what will they receive for their efforts, you ask? Why, they will get two free tickets to that night's home game! Hooray!

It's that simple! So remember to come to the Hawks BasketBlog every morning of every home game for a chance to win tickets for that night's game! Note: Tickets to weekend games will be given away on Fridays.

Okay, take a look at today's question and give it a shot!

Trivia Question For 01/31 Game:

With a win tonight, the Hawks will clinch a winning record for the month of January. When was the last time the Hawks had a winning record in the month of January?

-- The Web Guy | 10:02 a.m. 01/31/07 | Have a comment?


Joe, Josh Leading The Way

The Hawks are a funny team. Just when it seems like things are going south permanently for the season (see Bobcats, losses to Charlotte), they turn around and win three of four, with two of those coming on the road. Of course, the one loss was at home to Philly, the worst team in the East. Who can figure this out? Your humble Web Guy certainly can't, except to say this: when Joe Johnson and Josh Smith are both playing well, the Hawks become a much tougher opponent.

Last night Atlanta finished off the Magic for the season, winning 93-83 and taking the season series 3-1. Oh if only we could play the Magic more often. While everyone bemoans the Hawks lack of physicality inside (and with cause), they go out and hold Orlando's man-child Dwight Howard to an average of 17 points and 5.5 rebounds in two wins over the last few days. That's Howard, who will most likely be an Eastern Conference All-Star and currently averages 12.2 rpg for the season. Big time kudos to Lorenzen, Zaza, Shelden, and everyone else who contributed to keeping Howard in check.

Back to my point about Josh and Joe though - we all know that as Joe goes, so go the Hawks. But if you dig a little deeper, you see that as Joe goes with some help from J-Smoove, the Hawks tend to also do much better. Here are some interesting stats:

Last night Smoove recorded his 15th double-double of the season, good for the most on the team and 19th most in the league. In games when Josh attains double figures in points and rebounds, the Hawks are 9-6. Joe missed two of those games due to injury, but in the 13 other games he averaged 27.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, and 4.7 apg - all three marks better than his season average. In those 13 games, the Hawks are 8-5.

Also, when Joe scores 30+, the Hawks are 8-5. So what does this mean? Obviously, we know that the Hawks do better when their best players play well. But to me it points specifically to Josh. Last night I was really impressed with the way he was attacking the basket, getting to the free throw line nine times. In fact, over the past five games, he is averaging 7.2 attempts per game. This, along with his improved rebounding of late, shows me he is getting to the rim more offensively and defensively, and when that happens, things tend to open up for everyone else on the team.

If he can keep this up, then perhaps better things are in store for this team for the rest of the season. If Josh Smith can continue to get inside and remain a consistent second offensive threat to take the pressure off Joe, who knows? With last night's win, the Hawk are 7-7 this month, and are out for a winning month if they can beat Golden State tomorrow night, which begs the question now - which team is closer to the real thing - the one that went 6-7 in November and 7-7 in January, or the 3-13 bunch from December?

-- The Web Guy | 2:30 p.m. 01/29/07 | Have a comment?


Hawks Go For Series Win Against Magic

The Hawks face the Magic for the fourth and final time tonight at Philips Arena, and with a 2-1 record so far (a 95-82 win at Philips back on Nov. 5, a 98-79 loss at Orlando on Nov. 25, and a 93-90 road win last Friday night) have a chance to win the season series for the first time since 2002-03. Congrats to Chip P., today's trivia winner, for getting that right.

Tonight's game will be a tough one for Atlanta, especially given how they punked Orlando on the road on Friday, rebounding from a 14-point halftime deficit to steal a win (already the eighth road win on the season, matching last year's season total). The key to Friday's win will be the same tonight - stopping Orlando from scoring in the paint, and using up fouls as necessary to ensure that happens.

On Friday, the Hawks sent Magic C Dwight Howard to the FT line 18 times, resulting in only nine points. While Howard is not exactly Shaquille O'Neal at the charity stripe (a career 62% shooter there), putting him there instead of getting dunked on is in any team trying to beat Orlando's best interest. Lorenzen Wright and Zaza Pachulia each fouled out defending him, and expect to see a similar strategy tonight.

How do we know? We talked to Hawks assistant David Fizdale about it today, and he said being physical with Howard in the post is a huge key. Lorenzen Wright said the same thing.

A win tonight would be a good way to kick off the week, with two tough but winnable games coming up against Golden State on Wednesday and Toronto on Friday. 2-2 on this homestand is a must, if not better, and the team already dropped one Saturday against a surprisingly fiesty Sixers squad.

On a side note, congrats to Hawks F Shelden Williams, who had his jersey retired at Duke in a ceremony yesterday alongside tonight's nemesis JJ Redick.

-- The Web Guy | 2:30 p.m. 01/29/07 | Have a comment?


Trivia Time!

The Web Guy is a big trivia fan - loves trying to stump his co-workers with various bits of random information throughout the day. So, to have a little fun this year, we are going to be asking a trivia question the morning of every home game - usually around 10:00 am. At that point, you are free to email in your answer to that day's question. Around 2:00 p.m., we will look through all the responses, and one correct answer will be chosen at random as the winner. (Click here for official rules).

And what will they receive for their efforts, you ask? Why, they will get two free tickets to that night's home game! Hooray!

It's that simple! So remember to come to the Hawks BasketBlog every morning of every home game for a chance to win tickets for that night's game! Note: Tickets to weekend games will be given away on Fridays.

Okay, take a look at today's question and give it a shot!

Trivia Question For 01/29 Game:

With a win tonight, the Hawks will win
the season series against the Magic.
When is the last time the
Hawks accomplished this feat?

-- The Web Guy | 10:02 a.m. 01/29/07 | Have a comment?


Orlando And Philly On The Menu

The Hawks showed some mettle in Wednesday night's win at Boston. I know the Celtics are an injured mess, and there is very little reason Atlanta should have ever trailed by 18 in the first place, but give the guys some credit for making the comeback. Interestingly, the Hawks made their run in part by switching to a zone defense, as noted by Sekou Smith.

It will be interesting to see if they continue that approach tonight against the Magic, a team with a couple of guys who can burn you from the perimeter in Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson (and JJ Redick, but he has only played in two of the team's last ten games). Atlanta will get a return visit from Orlando on Monday at Philips, so tonight's game will be fresh on everyone's mind.

The Hawks got Tyronn Lue back on Wednesday, which means that aside from Speedy Claxton, the team will dress every player it planned on dressing to start the season. T-Lue was in the midst of his best season as a pro, so hopefully his return will spark a run. If Atlanta can steal one tonight at Amway Arena (yes, that is the new name for Orlando's arena), they would set themselves up well for tomorrow's game at home against the Sixers, certainly a winnable contest.

In other news, for those that don't get Sports Illustrated, Joe Johnson was featured in this week's Players Section, as Chris Mannix spent some time with the Hawks' go-to guy a few weeks ago.

If you didn't see, last night the starters for the All-Star game were announced, and it shapes up like so:

Eastern Conference:
Dwyane Wade, Miami - G
Gilbert Arenas, Washington - G
LeBron James, Cleveland - F
Chris Bosh, Toronto - F
Shaquille O'Neal, Miami - G

Western Conference:
Kobe Bryant, LA Lakers - G
Tracy McGrady, Houston - G
Kevin Garnett, Minnesota - F
Tim Duncan, San Antonio - F
Yao Ming, Houston - C

I have been yo-yoing back and forth these last few days trying to figure out where Joe stands as of now. I wonder if Arenas getting voted in as a starter helps his cause - it's conceivable Vince Carter could get overlooked for Joe (doubtful, but in the realm of possibility), but there is no way Agent Zero wasn't going to get an invite with his MVP-caliber season so far.

Props to former Georgia Tech star Chris Bosh for getting his first All-Star starting nod. I am still amazed at how well that guy plays. I saw him play at Tulane early in his freshman year, and I knew all about his reputation coming out of high school, and I swear to you I thought he'd end up playing two-three years of college ball before he declared. But he never stopped improving, and now he is where he belongs - amongst the basketball elite. Just goes to show, sometimes you have to give a guy some time to develop (though to be fair, Bosh ended up needing very, very little time).

Let's hope the Hawks have overcome their shooting woes from Wednesday and come out strong tonight, and hopefully they will come home tomorrow night looking for a third straight win.

See you there!

-- The Web Guy | 4:45 p.m. 01/26/07 | Have a comment?


Zona vs Duke

Maybe not the hardest question in the world today - but of course the answer to which two sets of teammates play for the Sixers and Hawks is Shelden Williams/Shavlik Randolph from Duke and Salim Stoudamire/Andre Iguodala from Arizona. Congrats to Elizabeth H. for winning the tickets to tomorrow's game!



-- The Web Guy | 2:00 p.m. 01/26/07 | Have a comment?


Trivia Time!

The Web Guy is a big trivia fan - loves trying to stump his co-workers with various bits of random information throughout the day. So, to have a little fun this year, we are going to be asking a trivia question the morning of every home game - usually around 10:00 am. At that point, you are free to email in your answer to that day's question. Around 2:00 p.m., we will look through all the responses, and one correct answer will be chosen at random as the winner. (Click here for official rules).

And what will they receive for their efforts, you ask? Why, they will get two free tickets to that night's home game! Hooray!

It's that simple! So remember to come to the Hawks BasketBlog every morning of every home game for a chance to win tickets for that night's game! Note: Tickets to weekend games will be given away on Fridays - so today's tickets are for Saturday's game against Philadelphia.

Okay, take a look at today's question and give it a shot!

Trivia Question For 01/27 Game:

When the Hawks host the Sixers tomorrow night at Philips Arena, two players on each team will be going up against one of their college teammates. Name the two sets of players and the schools they attended.

Submit your answers (hawks.mailbag@atlantaspirit.com), and check back today at 2:00 p.m. for the answer and to see if you've won!

-- The Web Guy | 10:00 a.m. 01/26/07 | Have a comment?


Double Your Fun Against The Celtics

I enjoyed today's question, if I do say so myself. It required some digging, but the answer was around for those who bothered to look. Congrats to Mark S., today's winner, and to all others for participating.

The last time the Hawks played the same opponent on back-to-back nights was on November 22-23, 2002, when the Hawks lost twice in two nights to the Boston Celtics. The first game was an overtime game in Boston, the second a 109-99 affair at Philips.

Hopefully this back-to-back will turn out better for our team.

Tonight's game is very important to the development of our team. With three straight wins, the team is starting to pick up some momentum. Charlotte, on paper, is beatable. They come in with a 12-25 record, and may be without the services of Gerald Wallace and Sean May (both game-time decisions) as well as Hawks tormentor Brevin Knight (out). In the only earlier meeting this season, the Hawks streaked to a huge lead but nearly gave it away thanks to sloppy play.

Wednesday night, we saw the Hawks finally put a team away after building such a lead. Tonight is the night where we see if the lessons of this season really take hold - can we avoid playing down to the level of our competition and protect a lead if we gain one?

Rest assured, record and roster aside, the Bobcats will come in and play us hard, as we found out in talking to Hawks assistant Larry Drew this morning. They always do, as evidenced by their 6-3 record against Atlanta since joining the league in 2004. We cannot think we can just show up tonight and win - we have to earn it.

We talked to Marvin Williams today about the prospect of playing his former UNC teammates in May and Raymond Felton, and about how Bobcats rookie Adam Morrison is adjusting to the league.

It will be interesting to see how it plays out, playing the same opponent on back-to-back nights. I think a sweep would be awesome, a split understandable - just so long as it doesn't start with a loss.

Come out tonight and root our boys to add to their winning streak.

See you there!

-- The Web Guy | 2:30 p.m. 01/19/07 | Have a comment?


Trivia Time!

The Web Guy is a big trivia fan - loves trying to stump his co-workers with various bits of random information throughout the day. So, to have a little fun this year, we are going to be asking a trivia question the morning of every home game - usually around 10:00 am. At that point, you are free to email in your answer to that day's question. Around 2:00 p.m., we will look through all the responses, and one correct answer will be chosen at random as the winner. (Click here for official rules).

And what will they receive for their efforts, you ask? Why, they will get two free tickets to that night's home game! Hooray!

It's that simple! So remember to come to the Hawks BasketBlog every morning of every home game for a chance to win tickets for that night's game!

Okay, take a look at today's question and give it a shot!

Trivia Question For 01/19 Game:

The Hawks play the Bobcats tonight at Philips Arena and tomorrow night in Charlotte. When is the last time the Hawks played the same opponent on back-to-back nights?

Submit your answers (hawks.mailbag@atlantaspirit.com), and check back today at 2:00 p.m. for the answer and to see if you've won!

-- The Web Guy | 10:00 a.m. 01/19/07 | Have a comment?


Hawks Dominate In Win

Remember yesterday when I said it was a good thing for the Hawks to beat Detroit and Boston by close margins, since it would help their confidence? Well, you know what else helps build that? 17-point road wins against a Western Conference team in the thick of the playoff hunt.

Last night's 105-88 win over the Timberwolves in Minneapolis was a thing of beauty from start to finish. The Hawks came out strong and maintained that effort the entire way, coming up with their biggest margin of victory on the road since a 110-88 win over Chicago back on Feb. 28, 2003. In the process, Atlanta also snapped an eight-game losing streak at Minnesota.

The win was satisfying for a number of reasons, but mostly because the Hawks never let the T-Wolves get back in it once they took control.

Royal Ivey (who is on fire of late, albeit on a limited number of shots) hit a three early in the third quarter to stretch the Atlanta lead to 66-50, and the lead never shrunk below 16 from that point on.

The other thing that stood out in my mind was, watching the game, it felt like everything we threw up was going in. Hey, teams are going to have games like that - sometimes one team just shoots the other team out of the gym and that is that. However, in looking at the box score this morning, I saw that we only shot 54.3% from the field. That is certainly a good performance, but it's not record-breaking or anything. A big reason why it seemed like everything was dropping was because the guys were getting the ball to each other in a position to score - evidenced by the season-high 31 assists the Hawks dished out on 44 baskets.

Strangely, the team has had its best three-game stretch of the season dishing 'em out during this winning streak (26.7 apg), all without the services of Speedy Claxton or Tyronn Lue. Interesting. Also, it's worth mentioning they turned the ball over a season-low 9 times last night, and have averaged only 13.3 per game over the course of the streak.

Everyone deserves a tip o' the cap for their efforts last night, but let's go ahead and make special mention of Josh Smith's work in particular. The more I see him play, the more I become convinced that his performance dictates the team's outcomes. When he is getting his points in the flow of the game (like last night, when he scored 21 without forcing much offensively - heck, no one forced anything offensively in that game), everyone else seems to perform in their assigned role. But when he tries to do too much, it seems like everything gets thrown out of whack.

Josh was awesome last night, and has played a significant role in each of the last three wins - if he can keep boarding and making plays on the defensive end instead of hanging around the perimeter looking to hit from long distance, this team could rebound well from it's recent nosedive.

Congrats again to the fellas on by far their most impressive performance of the season.

-- The Web Guy | 3:20 p.m. 01/18/07 | Have a comment?


Childress Deserves Props For Wins

The Hawks got two much (much) needed wins over the weekend - a thrilling 99-93 win over Mike Woodson's former employers from Detroit, and a not-as-thrilling 100-96 win against a depleted Boston team.

For whatever reason, our boys continue to struggle to play at the same level regardless of opponent - raising their game admirably when playing the big boys, but relaxing when presented with presumably easy pickings.

Still, two wins in a row is a good thing, particularly since both games were close down the stretch. Of course it would be nice to see the team win some games by double-digit margins, but I think holding off opponents in the closing minutes is infinitely more helpful in rebuilding this team's confidence.

Though we are still beset by injuries (Speedy Claxton doesn't need surgery but is out indefinitely, while Tyronn Lue continues to be hampered by a strained groin), we have seen glimpses again in the last two games of what this team is capable of when the pieces are reasonably assembled.

To me though, the biggest difference of late (and a large reason I personally think we struggled early in the season) has been the play of Josh Childress. Childress has always been a favorite of mine; in my opinion he is the second most indispensable player on the team behind Joe Johnson.

I have argued this point with Hawks fans aplenty over the last few years about what the team should have done with the #6 pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. Many fans remain steadfast in their belief that the Hawks should have taken Luol Deng or Andre Iguodala there. And while I agree that both of those players are very talented (particularly Deng, who could be an All-Star this season), I think its well-past time to give Childress (and Billy Knight by extension) credit for how well he has played since joining the team. I for one feel much more comfortable about our chances when he is on the floor, and performances like Monday's 23-point, 14-rebound effort against the Celtics (or Friday's 18 and 6 against the Celtics) only further my point.

Tonight the boys are in Minneapolis to play the Timberwolves, a team that has beaten the Hawks eight straight times at home. To break that streak, Atlanta will have to continue to play as they did the last two games - starting out well and not digging themselves into a hole they have to try to get out of the rest of the contest. But if they can keep getting contributions from the likes of Childress and co. to take some of the heat of JJ, anything is possible.

Tune in and watch at 8:00 p.m. on SportSouth.

-- The Web Guy | 4:00 p.m. 01/17/07 | Have a comment?


Interview With Bow Wow

One of the ATL's favorite talents made it out to Philips Arena Friday night, as musician/actor Bow Wow took in the Pistons game from courtside. We had a chance to catch up with Bow Wow, who just released his fifth album "The Price of Fame" on Dec. 19, at halftime:

Hawks.com: The Hawks seem to play well when you are in the crowd - do you take any credit for that?

Bow Wow: It's crazy - every time I come here, it seems like they always play well. It's cool to come out and see the home team win - that's all I want to see anyway. I have a lot of friends on the team, like Josh Smith and Josh Childress, so its great to get to come out here and see them all be successful.

Hawks.com: The Hawks have suffered through a lot of injuries in the backcourt. Do you think you could play a little and help them out?

Bow Wow: You know I haven't given it much thought. Every time I am out here though, I watch and say to myself, you know, I'm not ready yet, but if I really buckled down...you never know. There are a lot of little guys in the league - Nate Robinson, Allen Iverson, maybe I could do it, but right now I don't think I'm there yet mentally.

Hawks.com: The team has been struggling some of late - what do you think they need to do to get some more wins?

Bow Wow: Honestly, they just need to get healthy. Injuries have killed this team - Joe, Josh Smith, Tyronn, everyone is dealing with it. It's hard for them to develop the kind of chemistry they need to be successful when they have to shuffle so many people in and out of the lineup. I just want to see everyone get back in sync with each other - I think we are seeing some of it tonight against Detroit, some of the up-tempo game these guys are capable of, we just need to get everyone back and then we'll be ok.

Hawks.com: We've had T.I. perform this year and Young Jeezy as well - are we going to see you perform after a Hawks game anytime soon?

Bow Wow: You never know, you never know (laughs)...

-- The Web Guy | 11:30 a.m. 01/16/07 | Have a comment?


Shelden and JJ Join Select Company

Today's question asked how many players have their jerseys retired at Cameron, as Shelden Williams and JJ Redick (right) will be joining the masses there in a special ceremony on Jan. 28. Once they have their jerseys retired, the number will make a baker's dozen - 13. For now, the answer is eleven. Can you name them all? I tried off the top of my head, and got a bunch, but I didn't know any of the old-timres. Officially, they are Dick Groat, Art Heyman, Jeff Mullins, Mike Grninski, Johnny Dawkins, Danny Ferry, Christian Laettner, Grant Hill, Bobby Hurley, Shane Battier, and Jason Williams.

Congrats to Steve H. and Coleco Y., who are today's winners. Bonus points to Steve for pointing out that there is also a female player, Alana Beard, whose number is also retired at Cameron.

Onto tonight's game. I know everyone's spirits are low after Wednesday's loss to New Orleans. It was probably the most frustrating loss of the entire season to me, as I imagine it was to most of you. This team has got to figure out how to respond better to the rash of injuries it has faced - period. As we have talked about here many, many times, injuries can decimate a team and change the direction of a season, but at the end of the day the fans don't want to hear any excuses.

Earlier this season a battered, undermanned Hawks team pulled out an incredible come-from-behind victory at Denver that energized everyone. Can they do the same tonight against a tough Pistons squad? They will have to play all-out all night to make it happen, and again it will be tough - Zaza Pachulia (ankle) is out, as is Speedy Claxton (knee) and Tyronn Lue (groin). Josh Smith (hernia surgery) is most likely out, but his status is improving, so it is conceivable he could dress tonight.

No one likes losing - especially athletes. And you can bet the guys will be out there tonight doing whatever it takes to try to get back on the right track.

See you there!

-- The Web Guy | 2:30 p.m. 01/12/07 | Have a comment?


Trivia Time!

The Web Guy is a big trivia fan - loves trying to stump his co-workers with various bits of random information throughout the day. So, to have a little fun this year, we are going to be asking a trivia question the morning of every home game - usually around 10:00 am. At that point, you are free to email in your answer to that day's question. Around 2:00 p.m., we will look through all the responses, and one correct answer will be chosen at random as the winner. (Click here for official rules).

And what will they receive for their efforts, you ask? Why, they will get two free tickets to that night's home game! Hooray!

It's that simple! So remember to come to the Hawks BasketBlog every morning of every home game for a chance to win tickets for that night's game! Since Monday is a holiday as well, we will be giving out two sets of tickets today - one to tonight's game against the Pistons, and one for Monday against the Celtics.

Okay, take a look at today's question and give it a shot!

Trivia Question For 01/12 Game:

Shelden Williams is having his jersey retired at Duke on January 28th. How many players currently have their numbers retired at Cameron Indoor, where the Duke Blue Devils play?

Submit your answers (hawks.mailbag@atlantaspirit.com), and check back today at 2:00 p.m. for the answer and to see if you've won!

-- The Web Guy | 10:20 a.m. 01/12/07 | Have a comment?


Fond Remembrances of Salim Stoudamire

Today's trivia question was a bit of a toughie, but if you are a Hawks fan and can read between the lines, the question of who was the last player to hit for 20+ in a period should instantly bring to mind Salim Stoudamire's incredible 24-point fourth quarter at Oklahoma City last fall.

Though the Hawks lost that game 95-92, Salim single-handedly brought the team back from a 27-point deficit in the final stanza, getting the team within one point in the final minutes before they ultimately fell just shy.

Congrats to Wally G., who remembered that night correctly and is today's trivia winner.

The Hawks had a pretty tough night shooting the ball last night in Indy, scoring their second-lowest total of the season in a 91-72 loss to the Pacers. But, with Tyronn Lue finally getting back on the court, hopefully Atlanta will be able to get some more production from the Claxton-Lue tandem as they will finally be able to balance out the minutes a little better.

New Orleans/Oklahoma City is struggling in their own right, as PG Chris Paul is out with a severe ankle injury, contributing to the team losing five straight and eight of their last nine. The Hornets may be the only other team in the NBA to have to deal with the the amount of injuries the Hawks have dealt with. Still, this isn't a team we can afford to overlook.

Come out tonight to Philips to root our boys on - we are getting closer and closer to being healthy, and with Detroit and Boston on the calendar for this weekend, this is a must win game for us.

See you there!

-- The Web Guy | 2:20 p.m. 01/10/07 | Have a comment?


Trivia Time!

The Web Guy is a big trivia fan - loves trying to stump his co-workers with various bits of random information throughout the day. So, to have a little fun this year, we are going to be asking a trivia question the morning of every home game - usually around 10:00 am. At that point, you are free to email in your answer to that day's question. Around 2:00 p.m., we will look through all the responses, and one correct answer will be chosen at random as the winner. (Click here for official rules).

And what will they receive for their efforts, you ask? Why, they will get two free tickets to that night's home game! Hooray!

It's that simple! So remember to come to the Hawks BasketBlog every morning of every home game for a chance to win tickets for that night's game! (Note: Tickets to weekend games will be given away on Fridays)

Okay, take a look at today's question and give it a shot!

Trivia Question For 01/10 Game:

Joe Johnson scored 22 points in the second quarter in a game earlier this season against Charlotte. Previous to Joe, who was the last Hawks player to score 20+ points in a quarter?

Submit your answers (hawks.mailbag@atlantaspirit.com), and check back today at 2:00 p.m. for the answer and to see if you've won!

-- The Web Guy | 10:00 a.m. 01/10/07 | Have a comment?


Calling All Bloggers

It's been about a year and a half since we launched this here blog, and as we continue to evolve in the way we follow our favorite teams, we know blogs have become a big part of the scene. That is why we are announcing our first ever Blog Night at Philips Arena, tentatively to be held February 5 for the Lakers game.

Basically, we are extending an invite to anyone with an Atlanta-area blog to join us at the arena, bring your laptop, and live blog your experience! This is an open invitation to anyone who enjoys writing about their lives, their favorite teams (hopefully us!), or their areas of expertise to come down and give your thoughts on a night at the rink, completely uncensored!

The details are still being put together, but we are hoping the night will include:

- free entry to the game
- a tour of some of the highlights of the arena before game time
- a meal (free food - who can beat that!)
- a comfortable seat where you can use the arena's wireless to give commentary on the game as you watch it
- potential access to postgame coach press activities

So, if you have a blog and are interested in joining us for the night, email us at hawks.mailbag@atlantaspirit.com and let us know. Please include a link to your blog so we can check it out.

This should be a lot of fun, and maybe the start of some fun things to come!

Hope to see you then!

-- The Web Guy | 2:00 p.m. 01/09/07 | Have a comment?


A Baker's Dozen

The Duke Blue Devils currently have 13 players in the NBA, which is actually not tops for US colleges. That honor belongs to UConn, which has 14 currently on league rosters. Congrats to Kenyesha C., today's winner for tomorrow night's game against the Clippers.

In other news, Chris Mannix from Sports Illustrated was in town yesterday to do a feature on Joe Johnson for their player's section, and while here wrote a little about JJ for their website.

It's nice to see Joe getting any national pub, especially (as we have mentioned here many times) since he is in such a tight race for a guard spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team. If you haven't voted for Joe yet, get to it!

-- The Web Guy | 2:00 p.m. 01/05/07 | Have a comment?


Trivia Time!

The Web Guy is a big trivia fan - loves trying to stump his co-workers with various bits of random information throughout the day. So, to have a little fun this year, we are going to be asking a trivia question the morning of every home game - usually around 10:00 am. At that point, you are free to email in your answer to that day's question. Around 2:00 p.m., we will look through all the responses, and one correct answer will be chosen at random as the winner. (Click here for official rules).

And what will they receive for their efforts, you ask? Why, they will get two free tickets to that night's home game! Hooray!

It's that simple! So remember to come to the Hawks BasketBlog every morning of every home game for a chance to win tickets for that night's game! (Note: Tickets to weekend games will be given away on Fridays - so today's question is for tomorrow night's home game against the Clippers)

Okay, take a look at today's question and give it a shot!

Trivia Question For 01/06 Game:

When the Hawks take the court against the Clippers on Saturday, there will be four players from Duke University on the court. How many active Dookies are currently in the NBA?

Submit your answers (hawks.mailbag@atlantaspirit.com), and check back today at 2:00 p.m. for the answer and to see if you've won!

-- The Web Guy | 10:00 a.m. 01/05/07 | Have a comment?


T-Lue Gets Some Love

I have to profess a personal bias for Hawks G Tyronn Lue, not only because he does a regular podcast with me, but because he is one of the funniest athletes I've ever met. In addition, he is a pretty good basketball player, and one of the leaders on this Hawks team. The lack of his presence on the court has definitely affected the team these past couple weeks, as he was in the middle of perhaps his best season as a pro before his groin injury.

Nevertheless, T-Lue (aka "The Show") gets some love today from SI.com's Jack McCallum, who listed Lue as one of ten NBA players who are overachieving so far this year.

Lue is still listed as day-to-day officially, but hopefully he will be able to go sometime this weekend. His steadying presence, particularly late in games, has been sorely missed during the Hawks' current swoon.

Another player whose return can only help the team is Josh Childress, who appears to be picking up right where he left off before he suffered a stress fracture in his foot. We spoke to Childress today about his layoff and what the team needs to do to get back on track.

The team hits the court tomorrow night at Toronto for their first game in five days - hopefully the rest will help heal some of the team's nagging injuries.

We'll be back tomorrow morning with a trivia question for Saturday's home game against the Clips.

-- The Web Guy | 4:30 p.m. 01/04/07 | Have a comment?


Happy New Years

Sorry about the lack of posts the last few days, but The Web Guy was away at his sister's wedding. While we were gone, of course, things continued to go south for the Hawks, as injuries continue to pile up and the team's confidence continues to sag.

As I try once again to stay away from making excuses, I will simply note that any time you have a young team in any sport (and the Hawks are still the youngest in the NBA), you are going to be prone to wild fluctuations in the confidence level of the squad. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. Right now, obviously, it is bad. With the brutal stretch of games the Hawks just played (combined record of the teams played during the seven-game slide: 135-79), it's not entirely surprising to see them in a funk.

No one is happy about the losing streak, and everyone involved would swear to a man to be upset with the lack of effort in some of the games. Still, the season continues, and with a bunch of winnable games coming up on the schedule, it's entirely possible the team's confidence could rise again as quickly as it fell.

In other news, there will be a Hawks viewing party at Fox Sports Grill in Atlantic Station Friday night for the Raptors game, and many from the Hawks organization will be there as part of a sort-of vote drive to help get Joe Johnson into the All-Star game. Come out from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. to vote early and often, and stick around to watch the Hawks as they try to snap their current streak.

It's going to be very interesting to see how the All-Star selections shake out in the East with the guards. I figure there will be five spots for the backcourt, and as of now, the top six competitors are Dwyane Wade (a given), Vince Carter, Jason Kidd, Gilbert Arenas, Michael Redd, and JJ. Any of those five, Wade aside, can make a strong case for selection, but one of those six is going to end up sitting at home. So, do your part, will ya Hawks fans? Vote for Joe!

-- The Web Guy | 3:50 p.m. 01/03/07 | Have a comment?


Trivia Question Answered

Today's question was a tough one - only six correct answers, one of which belonged to Will M., who wins today's tickets. Congrats. The answer to when was the last time ten or more players averaged 25 ppg in a season is 2005-06. Last season. How bout that! Amazingly, this feat has only been accomplished twice - in 05-06 and in 1971-72. Thanks to ESPN.com's the Daily Dime for this info, by the way.

This year there are actually 13 players averaging 25+, which would be the most ever. Sitting sixth on that list of course is our own Joe Johnson, who dropped to 27.7 after a season-low 12 against the Pistons last Saturday (a mulligan game for the entire team, as half the team was in street clothes).

Looking at tonight's game against Cleveland, we find another in a brutal stretch of playoff-caliber opposition as we end the 2006 calendar year. We will be shorthanded again, as Josh Smith is now out two-to-four weeks after hernia surgery, adding his name to a list of Hawks injured players that is way too long. Josh Childress and Tyronn Lue are officially listed as day-to-day, so don't expect to see them tonight, though either would be a welcome surprise. Zaza Pachulia and Speedy Claxton are more likely to return, but you never know.

No matter who plays, this is a winnable game. Obviously the more weapons we have the better our chances will be, but the Hawks have played the Cavs well twice this season, winning once and losing once. Cleveland has fared poorly on the road, running up a 3-8 record as compared to a sterling 12-3 mark at home (to be fair, one of those three wins was at our expense).

As Hawks assistant Bob Bender told us today in breaking down tonight's game, the key to winning tonight lies in being the more aggressive team tonight, getting to the foul line, and keeping the Cavs off the offensive glass.

This is your last chance to see LeBron James this season unless we get Cleveland in the postseason, so come out to Philips to see his battle against hometown boys. Is that not enough of a reason to come to Philips tonight? Fine. Here is another: The Hawks dance team, the A-Town Dancers, will be revealing their 2007 calendar tonight at the game and signing autographs as well.

See you there!

-- The Web Guy | 2:30 p.m. 12/27/06 | Have a comment?


Trivia Question For Hawks-Cavaliers!

The Web Guy is a big trivia fan - loves trying to stump his co-workers with various bits of random information throughout the day. So, to have a little fun this year, we are going to be asking a trivia question the morning of every home game - usually around 10:00 am. At that point, you are free to email in your answer to that day's question. Around 2:00 p.m., we will look through all the responses, and one correct answer will be chosen at random as the winner. (Click here for official rules).

And what will they receive for their efforts, you ask? Why, they will get two free tickets to that night's home game! Hooray!

It's that simple! So remember to come to the Hawks BasketBlog every morning of every home game for a chance to win tickets for that night's game! (Note: Tickets to weekend games will be given away on Fridays)

Okay, take a look at today's question and give it a shot!

Trivia Question For 12/27 Game:

Coming into tonight's game, Joe Johnson is averaging 27.7 ppg while LeBron James averages 27.0. Overall, there are currently 13 players in the NBA averaging 25+ per contest. When was the last time 10 or more players averaged more than 25 ppg in a season?

Submit your answers (hawks.mailbag@atlantaspirit.com), and check back today at 2:00 p.m. for the answer and to see if you've won!

-- The Web Guy | 10:00 a.m. 12/27/06 | Have a comment?


Happy Holidays From The Fan Correspondent

The past two losses have hurt me deep inside. Sitting in the crowd at the Utah game, I looked over at my friend Beau at one point and frustratingly said "Do you realize that the Jazz just had a 7-point possession"? He looked befuddled, just like the rest of the fans at Philips. In a matter of seconds, a comfortable 19-point lead had faded to 12. With that, I felt it happening ... again. Regularly experiencing this lead-vaporization left me with a hollow feeling, probably comparable to how Kevin Bacon felt after seeing the opening weekend box office numbers for his thriller/drama/"I only paid this $6 to see Elizabeth Shue"/comedy "Hollow Man."
When I got home from the game, I read a heart-breaking article about Jermareo Davidson, a center/power-forward at the University of Alabama. A product of Wheeler High School (under the guidance of Coach Doug Lipscomb), he has endured unimaginable personal tragedy over the past several months. His older brother was shot in an apparent stickup at a gas station and was left paralyzed. Several days after this incident, he and his girlfriend chose to drive back to Atlanta to be with his brother. But during their trip back to Tuscaloosa, they got into a serious car accident - his girlfriend tragically died and he walked away. Even though he dropped out of classes, the NCAA and SEC invoked a special waiver and is allowing him to continue playing this season.

There are several reasons why I thought it was important to share Jermareo's story. First, and foremost, it's a firm reminder to be grateful for the people in your life who love and care for you (even if they're incredibly irritating over the holidays). Second, there are many people, just like Jermareo, who will be enduring an undeserved, tough holiday season. So please reach out to those in need around you, and offer a thought/hand/hug in support ... the effort on your part may be small, but the effect could be much bigger. And lastly, be careful on the roads, in front of the deep fryer or while sharing a bunk-bed with your grandfather, who over the years has developed a tendency to wet the bed occasionally.

With that, a few quick POSITIVE notes about the Hawks' past few games. Speedy's getting his legs back. I have to be honest - I've been a hater. I've been bashing him over email, voicemail, snail mail, chain mail and any other type of mail that you can think of. But I have to give it to him ... he's playing harder and much, much better. Maybe I was too quick to pass judgment, but it'd be unfair of me to knock a point guard who is averaging over 10 assists and points per game over the past 3 games. And if there was a positive that can be taken from the Utah game - other than the fact that Mehmet Okur has a promising post-NBA career ahead of him by becoming the Tom Emanski of shooting technique - is the way the Hawks played for most of the game. It's a rare occurrence that the fans at Philips actually stand up and cheer the Hawks heading into a timeout, which is exactly what I saw to my delight. And I must say that this applause was well-deserved. The Hawks looked like a legitimate contender. They were running up and down the floor, playing together and having a great time doing it.

Then the wheels came off. The lead started to shrink and the team panicked. I can picture Pavlov now, looking down and waving his finger at the Hawks fans, saying "I told you so." It's this mental block the Hawks have to fix. Many people will throw up their hands and yell that the solution is to fire Billy, Woody, and trade everyone except Joe Johnson. Realistically, this is a solvable problem for this young team. Seriously. It may take a revised 4th quarter offense, different personnel at the end of games or simply an attitude adjustment. But the point is that it can be fixed. History says I'm wrong, but in the spirit of this holiday season, I will remain a believer and wish the best for the Hawks, and everyone else who has problems, no matter how small or how tragic.

Happy Holidays.

-- Skippy, The Fan Correspondent | 4:30 p.m. 12/22/06 | Have a comment?


Trivia Answered, Game Previewed

The Hawks swept the Pacers, perhaps improbably, last season, winning all four games home and away. The last time the Hawks swept an opponent in a four-game season series was in 2002-03, when they blanked the Cleveland Cavaliers (pre-LeBron). Congrats to Kenny Y., the winner of today's trivia contest.

One of the reasons Atlanta was successful against Indy last year was the play of Al Harrington, who returns to Philips tonight as a member of the Pacers after we traded him back there in the offseason. We spoke to Hawks assistant coach Herb Brown about what to expect from Harrington tonight, as he presumably will be out to show us what we are missing by having dealt him.

I know everyone is down after the last two home games and the way they turned out, but I have to say, I am feeling better. After seeing the guys in practice yesterday, they didn't seem down. They seemed focused. Who knows, maybe losing a lead like that will snap them out of the funk they have been finding themselves in late in games? Man I hope so.

Anyway, come out to the game tonight, it should be very interesting to see how Al Harrington does against his former mates (while playing with other former mates), plus, Young Jeezy will be performing after the game. What more could you ask for?

See you tonight!

-- The Web Guy | 2:30 p.m. 12/22/06 | Have a comment?


Trivia Question For Hawks-Pacers!

The Web Guy is a big trivia fan - loves trying to stump his co-workers with various bits of random information throughout the day. So, to have a little fun this year, we are going to be asking a trivia question the morning of every home game - usually around 10:00 am. At that point, you are free to email in your answer to that day's question. Around 2:00 p.m., we will look through all the responses, and one correct answer will be chosen at random as the winner. (Click here for official rules).

And what will they receive for their efforts, you ask? Why, they will get two free tickets to that night's home game! Hooray!

It's that simple! So remember to come to the Hawks BasketBlog every morning of every home game for a chance to win tickets for that night's game! (Note: Tickets to weekend games will be given away on Fridays)

Okay, take a look at today's question and give it a shot!

Trivia Question For 12/22 Game:

Last season the Hawks swept the Pacers in four games. Before that, name the last team Atlanta swept in four games over a full season.

Submit your answers (hawks.mailbag@atlantaspirit.com), and check back today at 2:00 p.m. for the answer and to see if you've won!

-- The Web Guy | 10:00 a.m. 12/22/06 | Have a comment?


We Can Help Turn This Around

Devastated. Stunned. Helpless. Those are some of the emotions I have felt over the past 20 hours or so, trying to deal with last night's loss to the Jazz, a game in which we held a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter only to fall apart and lose 112-106.

I have been thinking about it all day (and all last night), about what it is that causes our Hawks to lose winnable games like we have over the course of the season so far.

Clearly, it isn't a fluke. It is a mental block at this point - it's human nature that when something happens to you repeatedly, you begin to think about it when facing similar circumstances in the future.

But I will say this. We are part of the problem as well. The players aren't the only ones who reach the fourth quarter and begin to wonder if it's going to happen again. We the fans are in the same boat - when the Hawks get a lead, we secretly start to wonder if (or when) we will blow it.

I felt it last night at Philips. As soon as the Jazz made a couple baskets (or say, seven points in one possession), the energy in the building went from positive to negative. Instead of trying to provide the team with cheers and applause to keep their mindset in a good place, we began to fret and furrow our brows and stare off into space. I know I did.

By no means am I placing the blame for losses like last night's on the fans. I'm merely pointing out that we suffer from the same symptoms of self-doubt that the players are feeling, and it's a dangerous, self-fulfilling cycle.

Both players and fans need to work to get in the correct frame of mind so that when we build a lead as impressive as the one we took last night, we can keep it, even if the momentum starts to swing.

I said last night wasn't a fluke, and that is true. The fourth quarter wasn't a fluke. But you know what? The first three quarters weren't a fluke either.

This is a good team. The Hawks have the talent to be very, very dangerous, and proved it for three quarters last night by taking it to arguably one of the top five teams in the NBA. The third quarter in particular could be used as a promotional video for how the Hawks are supposed to look when they are at their best - Smoove and Marvin flying for boards and slam dunks, Speedy driving into the lane and kicking out to open teammates for easy jumpshots, and Joe Johnson imposing his will on the other team at his leisure. The list goes on.

We are capable of beating any team in the league at any time, home or away, and by a healthy margin. We can be that good (and can be even better when we are entirely healthy). We just have to know it, and play (and cheer) like we know this to be fact.

Last night was a hard, hard loss to take, but tomorrow is another day, and there is still plenty of time to correct what is breaking down late and start winning the games we have been losing.

When you come to Philips on Friday for the Pacers game, come prepared to dominate. Wipe from your memory the disappointment of the ones that got away, and if the action starts to go against us, let's not panic. All it takes is one win to get things going in the other direction, and from there who knows what can happen.

-- The Web Guy | 4:20 p.m. 12/21/06 | Have a comment?


JJ vs Harpring, Hawks vs Jazz

First to today's trivia answer. Only two players on the current rosters of the Hawks and Jazz have ever popped for 30 in a game against tonight's opponent, and they are Joe Johnson for the Hawks (no surprise) and Matt Harpring for the Jazz (mild surprise).

Joe had 30 against the Jazz while with the Phoenix Suns in December of 2004, while Harpring hit the number last season, shooting 13-17 from the field in Utah's 95-83 win at Philips Arena.

Congrats to Jane L., who is today's trivia contest winner.

Onto tonight's game. This one is a doozy, folks. The Jazz are, in my opinion, one of the most well-coached and disciplined teams in the league, and it will take a total team effort to come away with a W. As Hawks assistant coach David Fizdale told us this morning, they are one of the most physical teams as well.

Still, we are starting to round into form. Josh Childress may possibly rejoin the lineup tonight, and he is a guy the Hawks have missed terribly. It's probably more likely we will see him this weekend, but if he can go tonight Atlanta will have as close to a full roster as they've had all season (Tyronn Lue is also a game-time decision).

We have lost seven straight to the Jazz, so a win tonight would be extra special. But, given the way Utah lost to New York on Monday, you can bet Jerry Sloan will have his team raring to go.

Come out to Philips tonight, it should be a pretty entertaining game. See you there!

-- The Web Guy | 2:45 p.m. 12/20/06 | Have a comment?


Trivia Question For Hawks-Jazz!

The Web Guy is a big trivia fan - loves trying to stump his co-workers with various bits of random information throughout the day. So, to have a little fun this year, we are going to be asking a trivia question the morning of every home game - usually around 10:00 am. At that point, you are free to email in your answer to that day's question. Around 2:00 p.m., we will look through all the responses, and one correct answer will be chosen at random as the winner. (Click here for official rules).

And what will they receive for their efforts, you ask? Why, they will get two free tickets to that night's home game! Hooray!

It's that simple! So remember to come to the Hawks BasketBlog every morning of every home game for a chance to win tickets for that night's game! (Note: Tickets to weekend games will be given away on Fridays)

Okay, take a look at today's question and give it a shot!

Trivia Question For 12/20 Game:

In tonight's Hawks-Jazz game, each team has one player who has ever scored 30 or more points against the other team. Name those two players.

Submit your answers (hawks.mailbag@atlantaspirit.com), and check back today at 2:00 p.m. for the answer and to see if you've won!

-- The Web Guy | 10:00 a.m. 12/20/06 | Have a comment?


Iverson To Denver

This just in...Allen Iverson appears to be headed to Denver, in exchange for Andre Miller, Joe Smith, and two first round picks. I have to say, at first glance, that I like how Philly came out in this deal. Any time you are dealing with a player that every team knows wants out, it makes it that much harder on a GM to get a deal done. And for all of the grief Sixers GM Billy King has gotten in recent years, I don't honestly know if he could have gotten much more his former star.

Andre Miller is one of the top pass-first point guards in the league, a guy who can do wonders for Andre Iguodala and Kyle Korver, and two first-rounders is a nice thing to have in the upcoming draft, predicted to be one of the deepest in recent memory. Joe Smith is pretty much a salary throw-in at this point.

Meanwhile, Denver gets the NBA's most electrifying talent in Iverson, but I think many will wonder if there are enough shots to go around in Denver for AI and Carmelo Anthony. Both clearly are driven to win, but they currently average over 30 ppg, and one of those figures will probably drop precipitously. How peacefully the two of them can co-exist will be the single most important factor in determining how this deal will work out for the Nuggets.

Of course, the two won't have to play together for awhile, as 'Melo is currently suspended for the next 14 games (they played - and won - last night in Washington for game one of his suspension). Speaking of the brawl, from talking to people around the Hawks, it doesn't sound like anyone is surprised at the punishment doled out by Commissioner Stern. Clearly, the NBA wants to eradicate itself of fighting, and Stern is willing to mete out severe punishments to bring that day closer and closer.

So the Iverson era appears over in Philly, and sadly for us, we won't get to see him even once this year, as we have already played our home-and-home with Denver and have yet to play the Sixers at Philips. Perhaps we can grab him for a pick up game sometime...

-- The Web Guy | 5:00 p.m. 12/19/06 | Have a comment?


Weekend Wrap Up

This was an emotional weekend. Friday's win at Memphis was huge. Getting a win (on the road no less) without Joe Johnson had to be a huge morale boost for the Hawks, especially after struggling so much in the last few games without him. Obviously, it would be very nice to have JJ for the rest of the season. But in the unfortunate event that they have to play without him, it will be good muscle memory for the team to know they can play without him.

I also thought that carried over into Saturday night's game, as the good guys gained their largest lead of the game in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, all with Joe sitting on the bench.

Of course, the way the game ended...not so much. That one stung a bit, I'm not going to lie. To win in the NBA, you have to be able to close out teams when you have a chance. There is too much parity to assume that any lead will hold - just look at how we won at Denver for proof.

The thing with the Hawks that I have to continuously remind myself of (a lot) is, we are still the youngest team in the league, and we still have a ways to go before the entire roster knows exactly what they are doing in any game situation.

The positives (as I am want to give, seeing as this is your official Hawks blog) were plentiful Saturday night if you can excuse the final score (please?). Marvin Williams sure looks like he is shaking off the rust. People have been wondering who can step up and claim the role of #2 or #3 scorer behind JJ, and I think as time goes on we will see Marv begin to shoulder that burden. His shot is the prettiest on the team, and that includes Joe.

Speedy Claxton also appears to be rounding more into game form, hitting for double-digit assist totals in both games. He was also very disruptive on defense, which I think is an underrated part of his game. His shot is still a work in progress, and I don't think he has fully regained his confidence there yet, but on this team his skills as a distributor are much more in need than his ability to score the ball (as a coach would say).

Still, at the end of the day, a well-played game gave way to a painful loss, the kind of which the team has to steel themselves against and forget about as soon as possible. With the toughest stretch of the season upcoming, the team's mental toughness will be sorely tested. Fortunately, we got a small look at the kinds of things this squad is capable of when firing on all cylinders (which of course wasn't quite the case, as T-Lue sat out Saturday with a sore groin), and with Josh Childress back at practice, there is a chance every piece will be available later on this week.

There is no doubt the losses this year sting a little bit more than in years past. But that is because we have hope, and ultimately, that is a good thing.

By the way, here is the full photo gallery from Saturday's matchup with Chicago. Is it just me, or does Kirk Hinrich look like he can't believe it's not butter?

-- The Web Guy | 4:35 p.m. 12/18/06 | Have a comment?


Jordan vs Nique

You know it's hard to find good trivia questions sometimes in this day and age of the Interwebs, almost any information you want is readily accessible. Everyone who wrote in got the answer correct - Dominique finished second to Jordan three times in the scoring race: in 1986-87 (37.1 to 29.0), 87-88 (35.0 to 30.7), and 1992-93 (32.6 to 29.9).

Congrats to M. Jordain, who wins tickets to tomorrow night's home game against Chicago. We are expecting to get Joe Johnson back for the game, so if we can steal a win on the road tonight at Memphis, we should have a chance to get ourselves back on track.

Speaking of Joe, Hawks fans, you have got to help us get Joe going in the All-Star voting. The early returns came out yesterday, and Joe is 9th amongst Eastern Conference guards with 78,680 votes, right in front of the Knicks' Steve Francis, who has 76,210 despite currently being hurt and when healthy only averaging 11 ppg. Nothing against Stevie Franchise, but he shouldn't be anywhere close to JJ. We know it's going to be an uphill battle for Joe to make the team via fan voting (Allen Iverson and Dwyane Wade currently have 500,000+ leads on Johnson), but let's still get him higher in the ranking, shall we? Good, we are agreed. Get out there and vote!

In other news, if you come to the Hawks home page later today, you may notice Marvin Williams poking his head around to tell you about the Hawks holiday ticket plans. I think you will like it, its a neat little tool we are trying out here for the first time. Let us know what you think.

Also, you should check out www.highlightfactory.com. It's a little micro-site we've put up with some cool graphics and music. If you haven't entered the sweepstakes to hit the road with the Hawks, you should definitely check that out.

Onto tonight's game in Memphis. This is a brutal stretch for the Hawks with injuries, back-to-backs, and what not. But this is a men's league - you won't hear any excuses. Every team has to deal with adversity. If the guys can keep from slipping into a "woe is me" mentality, they have a chance to get right back on pace. Even with their current four-game slide, they are only a game out of the playoffs. A couple wins this weekend, and the panic button that everyone was searching for may get buried.

Let's get the job done tonight in Memphis, and then come home tomorrow and show the Bulls who's boss!

-- The Web Guy | 2:15 p.m. 12/15/06 | Have a comment?


Trivia Question For Hawks-Bulls!

The Web Guy is a big trivia fan - loves trying to stump his co-workers with various bits of random information throughout the day. So, to have a little fun this year, we are going to be asking a trivia question the morning of every home game - usually around 10:00 am. At that point, you are free to email in your answer to that day's question. Around 2:00 p.m., we will look through all the responses, and one correct answer will be chosen at random as the winner. (Click here for official rules).

And what will they receive for their efforts, you ask? Why, they will get two free tickets to that night's home game! Hooray!

It's that simple! So remember to come to the Hawks BasketBlog every morning of every home game for a chance to win tickets for that night's game! (Note: Tickets to weekend games will be given away on Fridays)

Okay, take a look at today's question and give it a shot!

Trivia Question For 12/16 Game:

With the Bulls in town on Saturday, the great scoring rivalry between Domininique Wilkins and Michael Jordan comes to mind. How many times did Wilkins finish second to Jordan for the NBA scoring title?

Submit your answers (hawks.mailbag@atlantaspirit.com), and check back today at 2:00 p.m. for the answer and to see if you've won!

-- The Web Guy | 9:45 a.m. 12/15/06 | Have a comment?


Three Good Quarters

Last night's game was great, through the first three quarters. Then...not so much. The Nuggets caught fire, the home team went cold, and the result was a 100-87 loss. No use in crying over spilled milk though - the NBA doesn't leave time for remorse during the season, and the Hawks are right back at it tonight in New York against the Isiahs.

Joe Johnson looks to be out again tonight, which of course is bad news. However, if the Hawks can play the way they did through the first 36 minutes last night, they can win. If they can get a win or two without Joe, I think it can really help this team's confidence.

Joe is a terrific security blanket, but the Hawks definitely have a tendency at times (most teams with a superstar have this problem) to sit around and wait for him to make a play. But with Joe out of the lineup everyone has to step up their games, and I thought they did a good job last night of running the offense and getting good shots for guys in their sweet spots.

Whereas a week ago I would say the Hawks led the Nuggets at halftime because it appeared the Nuggets had little interest in playing, last night Atlanta led by 11 at the break because of teamwork and execution. The Nuggets came to play, the Hawks were just playing better. Unfortunately that didn't last the entire night, but it's a positive sign, especially if Joe is on the sidelines (officially, he is questionable for tonight).

A couple of highlights of note from last night's game. I admit to stealing this first item from ESPN's Daily Dime, but apparently Josh Smith had quite a statistical night - with 21 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 blocks, and 4 steals, he became the first player to reach 20, 10, 5, 5, and 4 (in that order) since Hakeen Olajuwon. That's some pretty heady company.

Also, if you missed it, Marvin Williams had perhaps the dunk of the year last night, posterizing Marcus Camby (see right) with a vicious one-hander from outside the paint. I can watch that video clip over and over again.

So, we are onto New York tonight. The Knicks are beatable, Joe or no Joe. So far this season the Hawks have responded when their backs were against the wall - if they can turn 36 of last night's minutes into 48 tonight, they will come home happy.

- The Web Guy | 11:25 a.m. 12/13/06 | Have a comment?


Ye Olde English Scorer

First today's trivia answer. Thanks to everyone who submitted an entry, and congrats to Jesse R., who is today's winner. The answer of course is Alex English, who led the NBA in scoring in the 1982-83 season, averaging 28.4 points per game. Interestingly, his teammate, Kiki Vandeweghe, finished second at 26.7 per contest, which makes for the only season in NBA history where two teammates finished 1-2 in the scoring race. That's the kind of info you will only get on the Hawks BasketBlog my friends.

As for tonight's game. It's going to be a tough one folks, no question about it. We caught the Nuggets napping last week in Denver, and they will certainly have revenge on the brain when they hit the floor tonight. Carmelo Anthony in particular figures to be a heavy load tonight, as we snapped his franchise-record tying six-game streak of 30+ points (though methinks he will break that at some point this season anyway).

The good guys may be without Joe Johnson tonight, who is nursing a strained calf muscle that already caused him to miss Sunday's game at Sacramento. However, as Mike Woodson told me earlier today, the Hawks can't use that as an excuse. After all, Seattle beat them last week without Ray Allen, and the Lakers won without Kobe Bryant.

What it means is the rest of the team is going to really have to step up the scoring to replace JJ's 28 per night, if he is unable to play. I look for two players in particular to try to look for their shot early - Salim Stoudamire and Marvin Williams. While Marvin is still working his way back from his hand injury, we have seen in the last week what Stoudamire is capable of when he gets going. If JJ is out tonight, or any other games for that matter, he is the one player on this roster who is capable of pouring in points from all over the court.

For more on tonight's game, check out our interview with Larry Drew as he breaks down the matchup.

Come out to Philips tonight and welcome the Hawks back from their five-game road trip!

-- The Web Guy | 2:00 p.m. 12/12/06 | Have a comment?


Trivia Question For Hawks-Nuggets!

The Web Guy is a big trivia fan - loves trying to stump his co-workers with various bits of random information throughout the day. So, to have a little fun this year, we are going to be asking a trivia question the morning of every home game - usually around 10:00 am. At that point, you are free to email in your answer to that day's question. Around 2:00 p.m., we will look through all the responses, and one correct answer will be chosen at random as the winner. (Click here for official rules).

And what will they receive for their efforts, you ask? Why, they will get two free tickets to that night's home game! Hooray!

It's that simple! So remember to come to the Hawks BasketBlog every morning of every home game for a chance to win tickets for that night's game! (Note: Tickets to weekend games will be given away on Fridays)

Okay, take a look at today's question and give it a shot!

Trivia Question For 12/12 Game:

For most of the early season, the Nuggets' Carmelo Anthony has led the NBA in scoring. Who was the last Nuggets player to lead the NBA in scoring for a full season (and in what year)?

Submit your answers (hawks.mailbag@atlantaspirit.com), and check back today at 2:00 p.m. for the answer and to see if you've won!

-- The Web Guy | 10:00 a.m. 12/12/06 | Have a comment?


That's Why They Play The Games

I'm not going to lie. I didn't much like our chances in last night's game at Denver. In talking about the game with co-workers during the afternoon, we pretty much agreed that with Zaza suspended, Speedy hurting, and playing the second night of a back-to-back (and the team not arriving in Denver until 3:30 am) that this game was pretty much going to be a mulligan. Come out, play hard, but don't get hurt and be ready to go on Friday at the Lakers. That's pretty much what I had in mind going into last night.

Fortunately, the Hawks have a little more intestinal fortitude than your humble Web Guy, and proved once again last night the old adage (slightly tweaked) true - "any given Wednesday night when you are hurt, tired, and undermanned" - in a 98-96 comeback win at Denver.

What a win. I don't even know if I have the words to sum up my feelings as the buzzer sounded last night and the Hawks had pulled off arguably the most impressive victory by any team in the NBA this season.

Everyone who played had a hand in this one, from Joe Johnson's 27 (not that it matters, but it was the first time in six games he failed to score 30+) to Royal Ivey's three-pointer, his first FG of the season, and which I might add, came at an absolutely critical point in the fourth period.

Having said that, I want to give props to two people in particular for last night's win: Salim Stoudamire and Shelden Williams.

First Salim. With Speedy hurting and Tyronn Lue playing a ton of minutes of late, we fully expected Salim to get some pretty good burn last night, and he did, playing over 36 minutes. He didn't disappoint either, scoring 21 points in a variety of manners, including consecutive high-degree-of-difficulty lay-ups in the first half, one with each hand. There were of course a few of his signature three-pointers mixed in there, but his most important basket came late in the game as he got into the lane for a tear-drop runner that gave the Hawks the lead at 94-93 with 1:34 left to play.

Stoudamire's full offensive arsenal was on display last night, and he showed not only the ability to step up and take (and make) big shots, but showed he has a creativity with the ball that could make him a very dangerous weapon in the Hawks' cachet.

Now onto Shelden. Statistically, Shelden's night was fairly quiet, as he battled with foul trouble early and finished with only seven points. However, any questions about his ability to transition to the pro game should go by the wayside after his play at the end of last night's victory.

A few plays in particular illustrate the promise that Shelden has begun to exhibit about his future in Atlanta.

First, his defensive play in the game's final minute. After JR Smith missed the second of two free throws (a common theme on the night, as the Nuggets shot a difficult-to-do-at-the-professional-level 16-33 from the charity stripe), Shelden grabbed a crucial rebound, but was tied up forcing a jump-ball. Williams won the tip, allowing the ball to get into the hands of Josh Smith who found Stoudamire for an unlikely alley-oop that gained two points after a goaltending call against JR.

Then, with the game tied, Carmelo Anthony drove baseline and Shelden came over to help, getting a hand on the ball and forcing Melo into a wildly-missed layup attempt which the Hawks corralled, setting up the team's final possession.

With the score tied at 96 and the Hawks playing for the final shot, Joe Johnson ended up in a double-team near mid-court and the clock winding down. Looking for the open man, JJ found Shelden at the right elbow. Whereas many rookies might panic in that situation, Shelden acted like he'd been there many times before, making a move towards the basket and getting one of the game's better defensive players, Marcus Camby, in the air with a beautiful fake before initiating contact and drawing the foul. Textbook basketball, that's what it was.

Still, there was work to be done, as he had to finish the play at the line. That's a lot of pressure for a rookie, but big Shel calmly stepped to the line and hit a pair, giving the Hawks an improbable 98-96 lead.

There will be ups and downs for Shelden this season, as there are for any rookie. But that kind of heady play goes a long way towards explaining why Billy Knight made him the fifth pick in last year's draft, and why he appears to be a prime contender for All-Rookie honors.

Last night's win gives the Hawks two wins on their road-trip, which before it started was pretty much the number I hoped we'd get to in five games, let alone three. The key is not to let up now and rest on our laurels.

Fortunately help is on the way, as Marvin Williams has been cleared to return to action in time for Friday's game against the Lakers. To be honest, when Marvin went down, I said to myself, if we can just be around .500 when he gets back, I will feel good about the team's chances. Well, thanks to last night's comeback, we are 8-9. Not a record to print posters about by any means, but pretty impressive nonetheless given our recent track record and relative lack of health.

The other thing I found myself thinking during last night's game is this: in the NBA, a superstar is a valuable chip to have in your stack(duh). When you have a superstar like Kobe, LeBron, or D-Wade, you have a chance in every game. Well, that's what the Hawks have in Joe Johnson. Because we have a talent like JJ, a guy who is capable of putting an entire team on his shoulder and carrying them for an evening, we will have an opportunity to win any game we play. That is something we have been missing for a long time, and it makes my appreciation of him (and by extension the moves we made to acquire him) that much greater.

Of course the great thing about last night is JJ didn't have to carry us - he got help up and down the bench. When all is said and done, who knows if this game will end up making a difference in the standings. But it certainly feels like it will this morning.

Here are a few pics from the night's action:


Joe and Carmelo before the game, preparing for their scoring duel


Joe and Josh Smith working in the paint


Joe and Salim celebrate the 17-point comeback win

-- The Web Guy | 11:30 a.m. 12/07/06 | Have a comment?


Introducing the New Fan Correspondent!

As you may recall, we concluded our second annual Fan Correspondent Contest a couple weeks ago. Well, we are happy to report that amongst some very strong candidates (and thanks again to all who participated), we are proud to announce and introduce Skippy (he claims it's a college nickname, you'll have to get the explanation from him), our fan contributor for the 2006-07 season.

We are excited to have him aboard, and hope you will enjoy his contributions for the rest of the way out.

So, without further ado, take it away Skippy (as always, the opinions expressed here are the author's and not necessarily that of the organization):


After fifteen games into this 2006-07 NBA season, the Hawks have achieved a 7-8 record, and are sitting in 7th place in the Eastern Conference playoff race. In fact, they're only two games out from the 5th spot ... Is this crazy talk? Too early to talk playoffs? Never. Discussing the Hawks' potential playoff run is not as absurd as something (alright, everything) that comes out of Bill Walton's mouth. (A recent Walton-ism: "Jeff McInnis has the greatest baseline floater in the history of this game!!!")

Without a money-back playoff guarantee in place for the season-ticket holders for a team led by Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson (worst idea ever, by the way), these Hawks can focus on playing hard and winning games without having to face pressure from fans, media and ownership. Expectations for this season are about as low as they'll ever be ... the Hawks, at 7-8, are still barely getting notice from anyone other than Sekou Smith. There's about as much pressure on the Hawks this season as Paris Hilton has to find herself a "meaningful" job.

Now, for a little perspective, let's glance into the migraine that is Hawks history and examine the last time the Hawks made the playoffs: the 1998-99 season.

In this strike-shortened year, the outmatched Hawks were swept in the second round of the playoffs by the New York Knicks. Here are the rosters for the Hawks and Knicks in that series:

  • Dikembe "Cookie Monster" Mutumbo (with his Ginsu-like elbows)
  • Alan "Infomercial" Henderson (because he was never as productive as he looked after he was delivered to us)
  • Steve "The Optometrist" Smith (giving NBA players free eye exams with his long-range 3s)
  • Mookie "No, it's not random that Pearl Jam's 'Ten' was named after me" Blaylock
  • Grant "Workhorse" Long (formerly the hardest working man in the NBA)
  • Tyrone Corbin
  • Chris Crawford

    Here is the stacked Knicks lineup consisting of several all-stars, a future hall-of-famer and a Heisman Trophy winner:

  • Patrick Ewing
  • Marcus Camby
  • Allan Houston
  • Larry Johnson
  • Kurt Thomas
  • Charlie Ward
  • Latrell Sprewell

    In a shoot-out, the Hawks fell 79-66 in game 4 at Madison Square Garden. (Judging by that score, apparently, not only was the length of the season shortened by the strike, but the length of the games were, too.) Seem like a long time ago? Who is Chris Crawford?

    The reason I bring up this history in not to remind everyone about a disappointing sweep and the collective pain and suffering we've endured, but to illustrate that a team full of all-stars isn't necessary to be a winning team. What's needed, in the NBA, is a team with energy, work ethic, chemistry and a reliable scorer/leader. Our 98-99 team had all of those. What the team lacked in talent was made up for in Steve Smith's ability to hit big shots, Mookie's relentless defense, Grant Long's hustle rebounds and Dikembe's finger-wagging. The team wasn't the prettiest to watch, but they found a way to win. In fact, they finished the regular season 31-19, and even managed to win a playoff series against the Detroit Pistons.

    This year's team carries a lot of the same qualities. We have Joe Johnson taking and making big shots on a regular basis, Shelden cleaning up the boards and scoring a lot of garbage points (maybe his name should be temporarily changed from the "Landlord" to the "Garbage Man"?), Tyronn playing hard-nosed defense, and the rest of the team, especially Josh "Elevator" Smith, Josh Childress and ZaZa, bringing lots of energy on a nightly basis. Even though this team lacks the experience of the 98-99 team, I'm a firm believer that this team has the intangibles to become a winner.

    Of course, it helps that a possible Hawks playoff run is in combination with what could be the worst Eastern Conference since ... ever? Currently, the New Jersey Nets are leading the Atlantic Division with a 7-9 record, and the shameful New York Knicks are in third-place at 7-13. Let's just say that the Eastern Conference isn't off to a blistering pace. This shouldn't matter one bit. The Conference is what it is, and a win is a win. What I'm trying to say is that there's no reason to discredit this team due to an ugly conference or ugly wins, so long as the job is taken care of. And I honestly believe that this team can save us from the seven-year root-canal that Hawks fans have been getting drilled with.

    On this west coast trip, the Hawks needed the Portland win, which they got. Lets hope that they can get at least one more before they face 'Melo and the Nuggets at Philips when we welcome them home.

    -- The Fan Correspondent | 5:15 p.m. 12/06/06 | Have a comment?

    Hawks Break Out Against Blazers

    If I had to make a list of the teams I desperately wanted to see the Hawks beat this season, the top three would probably go: 1)Miami, 2)Charlotte, 3)Portland.

    Now I realize the Blazers are not a division opponent or a traditional rival, but for whatever reason, they have been a constant source of frustration for Atlanta, pretty much this entire decade.

    Going into last night's game at The Rose Garden, we had lost nine straight in the series and hadn't won at Portland since 1997, which is reason enough to want to beat them. But I wanted a win because of last season's meetings, when we lost to them twice by a total of three points, courtesy of a Darius Miles turnaround (a shot I'm sure we were willing to live with as he took it) at Philips and a foul call that gave Zach Randolph free throws with 0.3 seconds left in a tie ballgame in Portland.

    Therefore, last night's win was immensely gratifying. We owed them (at least) one, and gave it to 'em but good.

    This was the kind of win we had yet to see this season - a clean performance throughout, a game where the Hawks played like they were the better team and never took the foot off the gas. Portland scored first on a Zach Randolph bucket (I don't know if he will make the All-Star squad in the crowded West, but I defy anyone to find a better post player in the NBA right now), and the 2-0 advantage was their only lead of the game.

    Atlanta did a great job stifling Portland's attack, giving up 30 to Randolph but only allowing one other player (Martell Webster) past single digits. Meanwhile the Hawks scoring was very balanced, as Joe, T-Lue, Josh Smith (who we didn't even know would play necessarily after suffering a left-eye abrasion Friday against the Cavs, but who, we might add, played very well in goggles), Zaza, and Salim Stoudamire each reached double figures. It was especially nice for Stoudamire I imagine, as he was playing in front of his hometown crowd.

    No ifs, and, or buts about it, this was a huge victory for the team as they start a five-game road trip out West. Let's see if we can't gain a little revenge on Seattle on Tuesday and get back to .500

    -- The Web Guy | 11:15 a.m. 12/04/06 | Have a comment?


    A Big Night At Philips

    Looks like a lot of people trying to get down to Philips tonight to see the Hawks take on the Cavs, but unfortunately, the blog can only give a couple of tickets, and today, the person taking them home is Trevor G.

    The question was when is the last time the Hawks swept the Cavs over the course of a season, and the answer is 2002-03, when the Hawks went 4-0 against a pre-LeBron Cleveland team.

    Tonight's game should be awesome. There is so much going on, it's hard to even keep it all straight.

    Here are a few highlights:

    - A tribute to Dominique Wilkins, who the Hawks will be honoring for his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame. If you haven't seen the countdown we have been doing of Dominique's 21 greatest moments, check it out. We will be unveiling the #1 moment later on today, so look out for that (what could it be???).

    - A post-game concert by Morris Day & the Time. I don't know about you, but for my money it doesn't get any better than when he sings Jungle Love. I celebrate the guy's entire catalogue - I'm a Morris Day fan.

    - The Hawks and Cavs will be both be wearing throwback unis as part of the NBA's Hardwood Classics Nights, and as such the Hawks will be wearing 1986 retros jerseys. I don't know about you, but I grew up with those jerseys, and they will always be my favorite. It will be fun to see JJ and the boys sporting the old school look.

    - Toys For Tots will be collecting toys throughout the month of December, starting tonight, so if you want to contribute and help those less fortunate enjoy the holiday season, don't forget to bring your contributions.

    As far as on the court action, tonight's game is another biggie for the home squad. We have shown we can beat Cleveland, but you know they haven't forgotten their loss and will be chomping at the bit to get us back. Still, a win tonight and we are back to .500 before we start our big West Coast swing.

    Come out tonight and see our boys in action, and get ready for a LeBron-JJ title fight.

    -- The Web Guy | 2:45 p.m. 12/01/06 | Have a comment?


    Trivia Question For Hawks-Cavaliers!

    The Web Guy is a big trivia fan - loves trying to stump his co-workers with various bits of random information throughout the day. So, to have a little fun this year, we are going to be asking a trivia question the morning of every home game - usually around 10:00 am. At that point, you are free to email in your answer to that day's question. Around 2:00 p.m., we will look through all the responses, and one correct answer will be chosen at random as the winner. (Click here for official rules).

    And what will they receive for their efforts, you ask? Why, they will get two free tickets to that night's home game! Hooray!

    It's that simple! So remember to come to the Hawks BasketBlog every morning of every home game for a chance to win tickets for that night's game! (Note: Tickets to weekend games will be given away on Fridays)

    Okay, take a look at today's question and give it a shot!

    Trivia Question For 12/01 Game:

    The Hawks beat the Cavs in Cleveland on Nov. 7, giving the team the early edge in this year's season series. When is the last time the Hawks swept the Cavaliers over an entire season?

    Submit your answers (hawks.mailbag@atlantaspirit.com), and check back today at 2:00 p.m. for the answer and to see if you've won!

    -- The Web Guy | 10:00 a.m. 12/01/06 | Have a comment?


    JJ And T-Lue Go Off In Hawks Win

    A huge win last night for the Hawks, no two ways about it. As I said yesterday, with the Cavs coming to town and a five-game west coast trip staring the team in the face, the guys needed to get a win against a team below them in the standings.

    For once, Atlanta got off to a great start, going up ten early on though both teams struggled to find offensive rhythm (no surprise, given both were playing the second end of a back-to-back). Charlotte got back in it towards the end of the first quarter, but then in the second quarter...

    Wow.

    Joe Johnson went off. He was unstoppable. Hitting from everywhere on the court, it appeared at one point he might challenge some of the single-game marks for the team (an aside - Jason Roose, one of the members of the Hawks excellent PR staff, swears he will hit for 50 this season at least once, and I for one concur).

    JJ slowed down some in the second half (and give some credit to Charlotte's defense, which pretty much decided they would risk letting the rest of the Hawks beat them), but still finished the night with a season-high 36 points.

    The other star of last night's game was Tyronn Lue, who it must be said should probably be in the discussion as the season goes forward for Sixth Man honors. T-Lue had 25 points, 17 of which came in the second half with the Bobcats focusing on JJ. In particular, Lue hit a pair of threes early on in the fourth quarter to widen the distance when it looked like Charlotte might complete a comeback.

    I make special mention of Lue today for a couple reasons. For one, because he has stepped up to claim second-banana status in the absence of several of his fellow Hawks, giving the team another bona-fide offensive threat to worry about on the perimeter.

    The other reason I mention him is to refute a comment, as I so often love to do, by another sports columnist out there who chose to put us down.

    Today's culprit? ESPN's The Sports Guy, who in breaking down the Eastern Conference yesterday (to his credit, he has us as a playoff team at this point), mentioned that Hawks fans must be upset at having Lue taking crunch time shots instead of perhaps Chris Paul or Deron Williams.

    I'm not going to get into the 2005 draft debate, we've trod that territory before. But I will say this: any real Hawks fan who has watched Lue play over the past two-and-a-half seasons has to be impressed at exactly that - his performance in the clutch.

    I know we haven't won a ton of games since he has been here, but the ones we have won have had his imprint more often than they haven't. Even the 2004-05 year saw him drain a game-winner against the Timberwolves, knocking them out of the playoff hunt in one of the season's few bright spots.

    Interestingly enough, I emailed with a friend of mine on that exact point yesterday afternoon, even before Lue took over in the 4th quarter last night.

    T-Lue has had to log a lot of minutes so far this season with Speedy Claxton still recovering from injuries, and I'd say the Hawks have been pretty happy with his results (and - shameless plug - I have as well, since he is co-hosting a podcast with me here on hawks.com).

    The fourth quarter didn't go quite as we might have liked last night, but we came away with a "W", and in the end that's all that matters. Now let's go get Cleveland and get back to even before we hit the road.

    -- The Web Guy | 1:55 p.m. 11/30/06 | Have a comment?


    Give A Yell-a For Othella

    And we have a winner for today's trivia contest. Congrats to Joseph R., who correctly answered Othella Harrington. Othella is one of many proud products of the Murrah Mustang basketball factory in my hometown of Jackson, MS. Other current NBA ballers from the school include Lindsey Hunter of the Pistons and Maurice Williams of the Bucks.

    I grew up on Murrah basketball, when the school was the standard bearer of Mississippi high school hoops in the 1980s and early 90s. One of my earliest, most cherished basketball memories was when James "Hollywood" Robinson (who played for a few years in the NBA with the Blazers and Timberwolves) led the team to the 1988 state championship, defeating Chris Jackson (later Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf)'s Gulfport team in the title game.

    Othella was there right before my time, but his senior year he was the national co-player of the year with Jason Kidd, averaging 29 points, 15 rebounds, and 7 blocks per game.

    Though his career didn't turn out to be as good as Kidd's has, he has certainly acquitted himself well in 11 seasons in the league, and I don't imagine his family will go hungry anytime soon.

    I hope he plays well in defeat this evening.

    -- The Web Guy | 2:15 p.m. 11/29/06 | Have a comment?


    Wizards Escape At Home

    Man, I am going to have to start taking medication for high blood pressure with all of these close games. The Hawks lost a nail-biter last night, by a point, at Washington, in a game they definitely could have won had a few breaks (or shots) gone our way.

    Much like last week's game at Detroit, I felt like we played well, and it's frustrating we can't seem to translate these efforts into W's. Especially given how short-handed we have been the last week or so, I just wish the guys could be better rewarded for their labors. Still, it bodes well for when the team gets healthy.

    I really thought we were going to pull last night's game out the way the guys defended, especially in the second half. Every time Washington went on a run (and remember, the Wizards have a plethora of scorers who can put up points in bunches) the Hawks battled back, getting contributions across the board. They held Gilbert Arenas to 21 points, despite the fact he was averaging over 35 a game at home.

    Joe Johnson had another tremendous game with 33 points, but it never felt like he was carrying us. There were contributions across the board, as our bench outscored their's 34-23. In particular, I was happy to see Shelden being aggressive going to the hole for dunks. As he started out this season he appeared timid at times, still gaining his footing as a rookie, but you can see it starting to come together for him. He is definitely playing as well as any rookie in the league right now.

    We had our chances at the end, and we didn't convert, and there isn't really much more you can say about it. Sometimes you are going to hit that shot, and sometimes you won't.

    Moving on, tonight's game with Charlotte is, to me at least, hugely important. Back-to-backs are tough, but a win tonight coupled with a win Friday against the LeBrons would get the team back to .500 before they embark on one of the toughest road trips of the season.

    Saturday night's game at Orlando aside, the Hawks have done a very good job of coming out strong on the road this season. For some reason, it's been the home games that have seen us struggle out of the gate. Atlanta is playing the second half of a back-to-back, but so is Charlotte, which pulled off a road upset of their own last night in New Jersey, so that is no excuse.

    We've got to win this game. That's just all there is to it. Not only for what it means for the state of the team going into a big road trip, but because Charlotte has fairly owned us since coming into the league in 2004-05. The Bobcats are 6-2 against the Hawks and 38-118 against everyone else. It's time to take back ownership of this series!

    -- The Web Guy | 11:45 a.m. 11/29/06 | Have a comment?


    Trivia Question For Hawks-Bobcats!

    The Web Guy is a big trivia fan - loves trying to stump his co-workers with various bits of random information throughout the day. So, to have a little fun this year, we are going to be asking a trivia question the morning of every home game - usually around 10:00 am. At that point, you are free to email in your answer to that day's question. Around 2:00 p.m., we will look through all the responses, and one correct answer will be chosen at random as the winner. (Click here for official rules).

    And what will they receive for their efforts, you ask? Why, they will get two free tickets to that night's home game! Hooray!

    It's that simple! So remember to come to the Hawks BasketBlog every morning of every home game for a chance to win tickets for that night's game! (Note: Tickets to weekend games will be given away on Fridays)

    Okay, take a look at today's question and give it a shot!

    Trivia Question For 11/29 Game:

    The Web Guy went to Murrah High School in Jackson, MS. What player on the current Bobcats roster also went there?

    Submit your answers (hawks.mailbag@atlantaspirit.com), and check back today at 2:00 p.m. for the answer and to see if you've won!

    -- The Web Guy | 10:00 a.m. 11/29/06 | Have a comment?


    Trivia Answer For Raptors Game

    I figured this would be a fairly easy answer to find, but I guess I was wrong today. I am feeling very good about myself, as it appears I nearly stumped you - only three right answers!

    The answers to today's questions are:

    The largest margin of victory for the Hawks over the Raptors is 26, as Atlanta beat Toronto 101-75 on December 7, 1996. Conversely, the Raptors greatest win was a 112-73 shellacking (a 39 point spread) on April 12, 2002.

    Thanks to everyone who participated today, and congrats to Neil S., who won two tickets to Friday's game against Toronto.

    In other news, SI.com's Jack McCallum posted an article comparing Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce, asking the question who would you rather have on your team? He chose Pierce, and though I am biased, I would disagree. Pierce may be a better offensive player (though I would say that's debatable), but I would take Joe on the defensive end any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

    I say Joe's advantage on the defensive end outweighs any perceived disadvantage offensively. What do you think? Email SI and let them know!

    -- The Web Guy | 10:00 a.m. 11/22/06 | Have a comment?


    Trivia Question For Hawks-Raptors!

    (Note: Our offices are closing early for the holiday weekend, so today's question is for Friday's game against Toronto, and the winner will be chosen around 1:00 pm)

    The Web Guy is a big trivia fan - loves trying to stump his co-workers with various bits of random information throughout the day. So, to have a little fun this year, we are going to be asking a trivia question the morning of every home game - usually around 10:00 am. At that point, you are free to email in your answer to that day's question. Around 2:00 p.m.(1:00 p.m. today), we will look through all the responses, and one correct answer will be chosen at random as the winner. (Click here for official rules).

    And what will they receive for their efforts, you ask? Why, they will get two free tickets to that night's home game! Hooray!

    It's that simple! So remember to come to the Hawks BasketBlog every morning of every home game for a chance to win tickets for that night's game!

    Okay, take a look at today's question and give it a shot!

    Trivia Question For 11/24 Game:

    The Hawks and Raptors have had some close games in the series history, but there have also been some blowouts. What is the largest margin of victory the Hawks have had in the series, and what is the largest margin for the Raptors?

    Submit your answers (hawks.mailbag@atlantaspirit.com), and check back today at 1:00 p.m. for the answer and to see if you've won!

    -- The Web Guy | 10:00 a.m. 11/22/06 | Have a comment?


    Hawks Interact With Fans, Community

    In the last week or so, the Hawks have played sparsely, thanks to scheduling quirks and the upcoming holidays. While the team has made the most of it's time, practicing daily and continuing to work towards having a successful season, the Hawks have used the lack of game commitments to reach out to the Atlanta fan-base and community-at-large, participating in two events that allowed children and adults alike a chance to get to know the players and coaching staff on a more personal level.

    Last Wednesday night at Philips, the team hosted a Tip Off event for season ticket holders, which included a chance for fans to be served dinner by the players and coaching staff, followed by several other events, including a question and answer session with the coaching staff and a hilarious game of Family Feud featuring the Hawks players.

    For those who couldn't be there, here are some photos from the evening, as well as a video recap of the evening.

    In addition, as I mentioned yesterday, the Hawks put on a Thanksgiving event for over 100 local underprivileged kids Monday afternoon at Philips. The event was a huge success, and here is a photogallery of the event, courtesy of ace photographer Colby Kidd. We should have video of it up and running in the next few days.



    -- The Web Guy | 5:15 p.m. 11/21/06 | Have a comment?


    Hawks Team Up With Local Kids To Give Thanks

    Call this a Hawks BasketBlog field trip.

    The Web Guy is coming to you live from Philips Arena, where the Hawks are in the midst of one of their best community initiatives of the season, a Thanksgiving feast with approximately 100 kids from the Atlanta area.

    As part of the event, the players split up into three groups with the kid on the Hawks practice court, the media lounge, and the club-side kitchen (forgive The Web Guy for not having a more accurate description for the area) for three separate stations which the kids rotated between: a basketball clinic on the court, an arts and crafts project in the lounge, and dessert making in the kitchen (and I tell you what - with as much sugary-sweetness as I saw flying in the kitchen, I don't envy these kids' parents this evening. They are going to be bouncing off the walls).

    For all the grief modern-day professional athletes get for being indifferent and isolated from the rest of us, a day like today is a great reminder of how nice and down-to-earth many of them still are. Just in walking around the three stations for a few minutes, I saw all kinds of reminders. I watched Zaza Pachulia laugh while helping a child cut out a drawing of his hand, then watched as Solomon Jones picked up a little girl and held her up to the rim (man, that dude has some long arms) so she could put the ball through the hoop, giggling the entire time (the girl, not Solomon - though he was grinning). Finally, in the kitchen, I watched as assistant coach David Fizdale smeared chocolate all over the apron of some of the kids he was helping to make cupcakes. I won't deny it, I got a little misty.

    We will have some video footage of this and a photo gallery, hopefully in the next few days, but sufficed to say, anyone who is disenchanted with the world of professional sports would have a hard time not feeling a bit softened by witnessing today's events.

    Thus I conclude this afternoon's Lifetime Network-style post, as I make my way up to the the Center Club on the 7th floor of Philips Arena, where the Hawks and their newfound fans will break bread together for a Thanksgiving dinner.

    -- The Web Guy | 5:30 p.m. 11/20/06 | Have a comment?


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