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.


Everybody's Talkin At Me...

Ok, not me per se, but the national media is actually starting to pay some
attention to our boys in red and white. Lang Whitaker, an Atlanta fan from way
back and writer for Slamonline.com
and for SI.com, posted a
column yesterday about the
improvements the team has made
over the last week or two. Also on SI,
NBA writer Kelly Dwyer discussed

the recent turns-of-fortune
for the Hawks and Hornets.

For the most part both pieces were positive, but I have to call Dwyer out a
little for dissing on Marvin Williams. Take what I say with a grain of
salt if you must since I work for the Hawks, but isn't it just a tad early to
say he is a bust? Shouldn't we give a 19-year old a little more than 20 games
before we decide he is a dud?

I realize Shareef Abdur-Rahim averaged 18.7 ppg when he was 19, and
that's wonderful; he is certainly a terrific player. But Shareef was also
already as good at 19 as he is at 29. Marvin, on the other hand, was not just
drafted for what he can do for the Hawks this season, but for several years to
come as well. Haven't we learned from guys like Jermaine O'Neal, Tracy
McGrady
, and even our own Al Harrington that NBA success can take
some time to develop? Chris Paul and Deron Williams have been
terrific so far, there is no question about that - but to judge a draft class
based on a quarter of a season strikes the Web Guy as just a tad silly.

Ok, rant over. By the way, congrats again to Joe Johnson, who was named
NBA
Eastern Conference Player of the Week
for his exploits last week in
leading the Hawks to three wins. JJ was on fire, scoring a career-high 36 in the
win over New York (including a career-best-tying six threes) and following that
with 30 in the OT win over Denver on Sunday.

Tonight should be a great battle in Miami between Johnson and Dwyane Wade.
The Heat have returned to their winning ways of late (3-1 since Pat Riley took
back over), and everyone is giving Riley a ton of credit for it. But I say
having Shaq back in the middle would probably cause most teams to go 3-1, let
alone a team with pieces like Wade, Gary Payton, and Antoine Walker. The Hawks
have perhaps caught a couple teams napping in the last week or so (not to take
anything away from their accomplishments), but after going 4-1 in their last
five you can bet the Heat won't be taking them too lightly.

Obviously, the key to a Hawks win tonight will be trying to control the Big
Fella in the middle. That being the case, I wouldn't be surprised to see a
little more of John Edwards, John Thomas, and Esteban Batista tonight to help
Zaza Pachulia out in the interior.

Tune in at 7:30 on FSN to see the Hawks in action!

-- The Web Guy | 2:45 p.m. 12/20/05 |
Have a comment?


Five Reasons To Come To The Nuggets Game

5)
See The Three, Be The Three.
The Hawks had quite a night shooting the ball
from long range Friday against the Knicks, connecting on 12 of 16
three-pointers. An interesting streak was snapped in the
122-111 victory
,
as the Hawks won for the first time in a game when Al Harrington hit a
three-pointer. For the record, the Hawks are now undefeated every time
Harrington hits six threes. Can the Hawks keep up their great shooting against
the Nuggets? We'll see on Sunday.

4) Speaking Of Al Harrington... Harrington tied his season-high in
points Friday with 35 against New York. What was the other time he scored 35?
I'm glad you asked! In fact, it was against Denver just a couple weeks ago in
the teams' first meeting of the season. On the statistical front, Harrington
needs just one free throw for the 1,000th of his career, and needs nine rebounds
to hit 2,500. Here is another neat one - in the last four games, Al has scored
at least seven more points than he did the previous time out (11 against the
Spurs, 20 against Cleveland, 27 at Philly, and 35 against the Knicks). So pencil
him in for at least 42 on Sunday!

3) Josh From The Block. The Hawks may not have a shot blocker like Ben
Wallace or Theo Ratliff roaming the middle, but second-year forward Josh Smith
continues to catch teams napping coming to help from off the ball. J-Smoove was
at it again Friday, swatting 8 shots (and picking off a couple more that were
called back for goaltending or a foul) in impressive fashion. Smith leads the
team and is currently 9th in the league in blocks per game. The Hawks will need
him to keep it up against Denver, a team with a shot-blocker of their own in
Marcus Camby, who had five blocks in the first meeting.

2) And Speaking Of Marcus Camby... Camby was an absolute monster in
the game at Denver on Dec. 6, going for a double-double (24 points and 12
rebounds) to go along with his blocks. The Hawks have had trouble with skilled
big men all season long, but perhaps have turned it around a little lately after
holding the Spurs Tim Duncan to only 10 points and 7 boards last Saturday night.
The Nuggets destroyed the Hawks in the paint last time out, outscoring them
66-38, and Camby had a lot to do with that. To win on Sunday, stopping him needs
to be a big priority.

1) Learning To Fly. If you didn't go to the game Friday night, first
of all, shame on you. But seriously, Friday gave a glimpse at the future
potential of this team. Granted, the defense was a little sluggish, but we
definitely got a taste of what these guys are capable of. With Joe Johnson and
Al Harrington pretty much doing as they pleased offensively, Josh Smith flying
all over the place for breath-taking dunks and blocked shots, and guys like Zaza
Pachulia and Josh Childress doing a lot of the dirty work, this team can be a
handful for the opposition. Denver will be another good test for the young
squad, with stars like Carmelo Anthony, Camby, and Andre Miller leading the way.
The Hawks are slowly gaining momentum, and a win on Sunday would make it four
out of five. It's been a rough start to the season, but with a ton of home games
on the horizon, there is certainly time to get this season going in the right
direction.

See you there! | Buy
tickets

-- The Web Guy | 7:00 p.m. 12/17/05 |
Have a comment?


Five Reasons To Come To The Knicks Game

5)
Chick-fil-A
Family Night
.
A brief Web Guy story, if you will permit. Before coming
to work for the Hawks, the Web Guy spent several years working in the Northeast,
a part of the country horribly bereft of Chick-fil-As. After finally getting
back down to the South, I have been able to happily stuff my face though. What
gives with the Northeast anyway? Very few Chick-fil-As, and almost no Waffle
Houses. God bless the South. Anyway, come tonight to the game and take advantage
of Family Night, where you get four coupons for combo meals to go along with big
discounts on tickets. You won't be sorry! (And if Chick-fil-A reps happen to
read this and want to give the Web Guy some free food for this extra publicity,
you have my email address).

4) Wildcats. Two of the biggest rookie surprises this season have been
the Hawks Salim Stoudamire and the Knicks Channing Frye, both of
whom played under Lute Olson at Arizona. The two will play each other tonight
for the first time as pros. We caught up to Salim after shootaround this morning
to ask him about the match-up, and
here is what he had to
say
.

3) A Lue-sing Proposition. Hawks PG Tyronn Lue has made it
tough on opposing defenses the last two games, scoring 40 points in his last two
games to give the team a huge lift off the bench. In particular, he has been
effective off the pick-and-roll from the top of the key, especially against
Cleveland, when he repeatedly got into the lane for baskets. He and Royal
Ivey
have made for a nice combination over the last few games, with Ivey
providing great energy on defense and Lue coming in to give a spark offensively.
Look for Lue to do well tonight against the Knicks and Stephon Marbury, a player
never particularly known for his defense.

2) A Coaching Reunion. Larry Brown is in his first season at the helm
in New York, and this will mark the first time he meets the Hawks this season.
For those that don't know, Hawks coach Mike Woodson apprenticed under Brown in
Philadelphia and in Detroit, as did assistant coach (and elder sibling) Herb
Brown. Bob Bender was also with them in Philadelphia. Woodson's Hawks probably
had their biggest win of the season last year at Detroit, winning on the night
Woodson and Herb received their 2004 championship rings. As always, the emotions
will run high when people who were in the trenches together for awhile face each
other. Look for tonight to be no exception.

1) It's New York. Come on folks, you have to want to beat the NBA's
home team! Knicks fans are notorious for showing up in droves at Philips and
trying to turn it into a home game for the visitors. Come out tonight and show
them whose territory this is! If the game is close in the fourth quarter (and
judging by the season so far, I'd say that's a pretty fair bet), the fans can
make a difference, and anyone who was at the game Saturday night against the
Spurs knows exactly what I'm talking about. So get out to Philips tonight and
help the boys get their third win in four games.

See you there! | Buy
tickets

-- The Web Guy | 2:00 p.m. 12/16/05 |
Have a comment?


Point/Counterpoint With The Web Guys

If you didn't know, the Atlanta Hawks and Thrashers are both owned by the
same company, Atlanta Spirit. There is a lot of crossover between the two teams,
and the websites are no different. Therefore, from time to time, we thought it
would be fun to have the teams' respective Web Guys (we promise they are
different people) debate each other in a point/counterpoint setting.

With both teams winning big games Tuesday night (the
Hawks won 100-94
at
Cleveland, the Thrashers won 7-6 over Detroit at Philips Arena), we thought we
would kick it off today with a simple question for them to debate:

Which victory was more impressive?

Thrashers Web Guy: While the Hawks' win over the
Cavaliers in Cleveland was impressive, there's no doubt that the
Thrashers' victory over Detroit is a bigger win. Going into last night's
game the Thrashers had never beaten the Red Wings, at home or on the
road. In seven games they'd lost five in regulation time, two in
overtime, and were 0-3-0 at Philips Arena against the Red Wings.
Meanwhile the Hawks have a 98-80 all-time record against Cleveland,
including a 13-11 record going back to the '99-00 season (which is when
the Thrashers entered the NHL). So from a historical perspective, the
Thrashers' win is more significant.

Looking at it from a "What win is bigger right now?" point of view, I
still say the Thrashers take it. The Hawks were coming off of a huge win
over the Spurs on Saturday, and if they had have lost at Cleveland
people would have understood, and still given them credit for the win
over San Antonio. On the other hand, the Thrashers were coming off of a
shootout loss against Chicago, a team that was only one point ahead of
them in the standings at the time. Looking even further back, the
Thrashers had been struggling against mediocre teams and had one win in
their previous six games, which was against Columbus, a team that's
sitting at the bottom of the NHL standings. Not only did the Thrashers
need a win, they needed a win over a good team to show that they can
hang with anyone in the NHL. Detroit isn't just a good team, they're the
Western Conference leaders and one of the most dominant road teams in
the NHL (with a 10-3-1 road record before last night).

Beating Detroit was huge in every possible way. It gave the Thrashers
their first franchise win against the Red Wings, it gave them a valuable
two points in the standings, and it proved to them, and the rest of the
NHL, that this team can skate with absolutely anyone. Regular season
games can't get much bigger than that.



Hawks Web Guy: Oh Thrashers Web Guy, you are so silly. Yes, the Thrashers win last night was
big. Any time you can beat one of the NHL's Big Boys you have to be excited,
especially when you have yet to taste success against them previously.

But come on man - the Hawks improved their season win total last night by 25%!
That alone should show how important this victory was. You are right - the Hawks
were coming off a huge win against San Antonio on Saturday, and that probably
helped spur them to victory last night (no pun intended). But the defining
characteristic of this Hawks team is its youth - and youth is prone to extreme
vacillations in confidence. Winning one game is nice. But winning two games is a
streak.

Look what happened earlier this season - a big win over Boston, a bigger win on
the road at Indy, then a heart-breaking loss at home to Portland which began the
seven-game slide that ended Saturday against the Spurs. Wins are big for any
team, but every win this young Hawks team gets is especially meaningful.

Ok, so maybe the Thrashers had lost all seven meetings with the Red Wings. But
the Hawks had dropped seven straight to the Cavs, so they cancel each other out.

Besides, I think the Thrashers knew they could skate with anyone in the league
already - victories over the last two Stanley Cup champions already this season
should have illustrated that point.

Perhaps the final answer to our question will be borne out in their performances
in the Northeast - the Hawks are back at it tonight at Philly, while the
Thrashers play tomorrow night at New Jersey.

-- The Web Guy | 3:15 p.m. 12/14/05 |
Have a comment?


Spurs Wrap, Notes Around The League

Man, the season is flying by. I apologize for having not written more of
late, but I aim to remedy some of that today. The Hawks play their 20th game of
the season tonight at Cleveland, which means we are basically at the
first-quarter pole of the season.

First a couple of in-house items. If you haven't checked out the
new dance
team pages
, you are missing out. The design guys did a great job putting
these together, and I think the results will speak for themselves. Well, not
literally. But maybe we can work on that for next year.

Second, in our continuing series of interviewing former Hawks players, we

caught up to Andrew Lang
, the team's current chaplain and a center with
the team for parts of three seasons, to talk about his post-basketball life.
From the sounds of it, he may not be the only Lang in the family to don an NBA
jersey someday.

Thirdly, let's talk a little about the Spurs game from Saturday. For those
who weren't in attendance, I am truly sorry you missed it. The place was
rocking, and the fans were awesome. Saturday's win was a completely team effort.
Literally every player who appeared on the court in a Hawks uniform made a
meaningful contribution to the win. In particular though, the Web Guy wants to
give props to Josh Childress.

Sitting courtside, at one point during the fourth quarter I turned to the
person sitting next to me and remarked "I daresay Childress has taken over this
game the last couple minutes." He was everywhere, repeatedly getting into the
lane on offense (scoring 11 of his 13 points in the final stanza) and coming up
with crucial defensive rebounds on the way to his second double-double of the
season (By the way, his first was at Indiana, which means the Hawks are now 2-0
when he doubles up.).

Everyone on the team should be proud of their effort against the Spurs,
particularly for not getting rattled down the stretch. We all know the Hawks
record could be much different right now but for a few unfortunate plays, which
makes the fact that they withstood a rally by the defending champs down the
stretch all the more impressive.

At Hawks practice on Monday, a few of us were discussing the

Spurs comments after the game
. During the team's rebuilding process,
generally when we have beaten teams you have heard the opponents blame
themselves for taking the Hawk too lightly and not coming to play.

Not the Spurs. They all echoed the same sentiment - on this particular night,
the Hawks simply outplayed them and were the better team. Now let's see if the
guys can take that confidence boost and start to turn things around.

Looking at a few of the things going on around the league...

Van Gundy out, Riley in in Miami
Ok, raise your hand if this came as a surprise to you. No one really knows
what happened in Miami to lead to this, but it has been rumored since the summer
that Riley was itching to get back into coaching. With the Heat struggling to an
11-10 start, maybe they felt this was the time to make a change. From my point
of view though, their slow start is easily attributed to two factors - the lack
of Shaq and the stress that comes with trying to mesh new people into the
rotation.

Since the end of last season, the Heat have turned over nearly the entire
roster. The only three players remaining from their core were Shaq, Dwyane Wade,
and Udonis Haslem (four if you count late-season addition Alonzo Mourning). It
takes a long time for team chemistry to gel on the court, and that's not even
considering the specific players Miami added (including notorious ballhogs like
Antoine Walker, Gary Payton, and Jason Williams). Is it really all that
surprising they have struggled?

The bottom line is, as long as Shaq is healthy come April, it doesn't really
matter where Miami finishes in the standings. So Van Gundy, Riley, Red Auerbach,
it probably doesn't matter. With the Diesel and Wade, I could probably be the
coach and we'd still make the conference finals. So all in all, I'd say this is
pretty much a non-story.

Artest wants out of Indy
What's that saying Bush messed up a few years ago - fool me once, shame on
you, fool me twice...(blank stare)?

I'm not saying I thought this would happen, but with someone as unpredictable
as Artest, it can't be that surprising. The Pacers have said they will try to
honor his request. Where are some potential locations for him to land? Let's
take a look.

Sacramento - This seems like everyone's first choice, as rumors of
Artest-for-Peja Stojakovic have been percolating since last season. This deal
makes a ton of sense for Sacramento from a basketball standpoint (though
truthfully, any deal for Artest makes sense from a basketball standpoint because
he is one of the most complete players in the league), but I'm not sure it does
for Indiana. Rick Carlisle likes guys who can play defense, and in that respect,
let's just say Peja has never been confused with Artest. Though he is a terrific
scorer, Stojakovic is fairly one-dimensional. However, if Donnie Walsh thinks
rookie Danny Granger can step up to take on the dirty work Artest used to do,
then maybe this could work.

New York - Honestly, I don't know what New York would have to offer
that Indy would want, but if there is a player to be traded, you can bet Knicks
GM Isiah Thomas will be in on the discussions. Larry Brown has a history of
working well with perceived malcontents as well - and I imagine Artest won't
show him anything he hasn't seen before with Allen Iverson. If New York would
give up promising rookie Channing Frye and maybe Quentin Richardson, perhaps
Indy would bite.

Miami - When dealing with someone like Artest, you presumably need an
authoritative figure Ronnie will acquiesce to. Much like Phil Jackson was able
to handle Dennis Rodman, it would seem (at least on the face of it) Riley and
his four rings would have as good a chance as anyone to handle Artest. Would
Indiana take back Antoine Walker and James Posey perhaps? Who knows, but the
thought of a Shaq-Wade-Artest trio is pretty scary.

Those are serious guesses by your humble Web Guy. Now, in a much funnier
world, what are some other teams Artest could be traded to?

Portland - They haven't had any trouble with malcontents lately, have
they? I can't remember...

Detroit - The Pistons fans LOVE Artest

New Jersey - They already have Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson
playing similar positions - why not add Artest to the mix?

-- The Web Guy | 1:45 p.m. 12/13/05 |
Have a comment?


Five Reasons To Come To The Spurs Game

5) They are the champions, my friends. The Spurs have won two of the
last three NBA titles, and that ain't a coincidence. You could flip a coin
between them and the New England Patriots for which is the model sports
franchise, but either way, the Spurs aren't going anywhere any time soon. After
winning their title last season, all they did was go out and add All-Stars Nick
Van Exel and Michael Finley as well as Fabricio Oberto, a teammate of Manu
Ginobili's from Argentina. So far so good for San Antone, which has gotten off
to a league-best 15-3 start.

4) A Royal Homecoming. One positive that has come out of the
three-game trip out West has been the improved play of Hawks second-year guard
Royal Ivey, who has started the last two games in the backcourt. The Web Guy is
not going to lie (by the way, one of the things I love about writing the Hawks
Blog is the third-person references I get to make - I feel like Rickey
Henderson), he is a big fan of Royal's since they both went to the University of
Texas, so maybe there is some bias here, but Royal played two very solid games
against Denver and Utah, scoring a career-high 14 against the Nuggets and
nailing both of his 3-pointers against the Jazz. Ivey's defense has always been
top-notch, and if he can continue to contribute on the offensive end as well,
look for his playing time to increase.

3) Building A Mystery. The first 15,000 fans through the turnstiles
Saturday night will receive a
Mystery Gift
Card
courtesy of Home Depot. Seeing as capacity is 18, 279, I'd say your
chances of receiving one of them is pretty good. Of course, I could tell you
right now what you are getting, but if I did I'd have to kill you.

2) The Big Fundamental. Tim Duncan is as good as it gets people. He
may be the greatest power forward in NBA history, and doesn't turn 30 until next
April. You should come out to see him in his prime, which may only last another
season or two (though granted, his uhhh, not-prime will still be much better
than most).

1) Remember the Alamo (and the first quarter). The Hawks lost 103-79
to the Spurs back in November, but for a magical 12 minutes at the start of the
game, the Hawks had the Spurs right where they wanted them. Thanks to Al
Harrington's 22 points, the Hawks led 31-18 at the end of one before San Antonio
got back in it. If Atlanta can get that kind of effort and intensity going
Saturday night, anything is possible. Let's turn the champs into chumps!

See you there! | Buy
tickets

-- The Web Guy | 3:00 p.m. 12/09/05 |
Have a comment?


Celeb
Sightings At Philips Arena



Braves players Andruw Jones and Rafael Furcal watch the replay screen
after a call against the Hawks.*


Rap superstar and Hawks season ticket holder Ludacris chats with Thrashers star
Ilya Kovalchuk at halftime


Terrell Owens takes in the atmosphere at the Hawks game.


Falcon's Alge Crumpler talks to HOT 107.9's Rashan Ali on what he thinks about
the game.


Actor/Comedian Chris Tucker cheers on the Hawks in the fourth quarter.


Andre "3000" Benjamin of Grammy-awarding group Outkast takes in the second half
action.

*Furcal was still a Brave when this picture was taken!

-- The Web Guy | 4:30 p.m. 12/05/05 |
Have a comment?




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