Tag Archive | "Al Horford"

Hawks turn to ‘D’ to take series from Bucks


ATLANTA, GA. – As hard as it was to imagine after the Atlanta Hawks had the meltdown of the decade and blew a sure NBA photo fileswin in Game 5, losing that game may be a blessing in disguise.

Adjustments had to be made after that debacle and the Hawks were forced to come out and play defense to win the next two games against the Milwaukee Bucks, one on the road, to take the best-of-seven series 4 games to 3.

With their backs to the wall after the Game 5 loss, the Hawks clamped down defensively and held the Bucks to a franchise low 69 points for an 83-69 win in Game 6 and came out playing defense again on Sunday, coasting to 95-74 win at the Highlight Factory.

With the win, the Hawks move on to face No. 2 seed Orlando and should take that defensive mindset with them when they face the Magic on Tuesday.

Playing in the first NBA playoffs of his career, NBA sixth man award winner Jamal Crawford led the Hawks with 22 points on Sunday, just two days after he netted a game-high 24 on the road in Milwaukee in Game 6.

Crawford has spent his career on struggling teams and is enjoying the atmosphere of the playoffs.

“It’s just so much fun,” said Crawford. “It’s like walking on air.”

Crawford nailed 8 out of 16 shots, including two outside the arch while Al Horford added 16 points and 15 rebounds. The Hawks simply outplayed the Bucks, maintaining a double digit lead throughout much of the game while dominating the boards on both ends of the court.

Of the other starters, Mike Bibby scored 15 points, Josh Smith added 15 and Joe Johnson continued to struggle from the field hitting just 4-of-14 for 8 points.

“We let [the fans] down in Game 5,” Josh Smith said. “We enjoyed every minute of this.”

More NBA: LeBron Wins Second Consecutive MVP

 Hawks Implode on Home Court and Lose Game 5 to Bucks

Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax™

Posted in NBAComments (1)

Hawks implode on home court, lose to the Bucks


ATLANTA, GA. – Milwaukee Bucks rookie Brandon Jennings soared into Philips Arena, scoring 12 straight points in mike woodson hawksthe first six minutes of the game Wednesday night to let the Atlanta Hawks know his team wasn’t rolling over in Game 5 of their NBA Playoffs series.

The Hawks responded, pulling away several times throughout the game and seemed to have the deal sealed after Josh Smith sunk a long jumper with 4:10 remaining giving his team a 82-73 lead.

But here’s where the old cliché kicks in: “It’s never over ‘til it’s over”.

With the Hawks thinking about hitting the showers, the underdog Bucks had other plans and stunned the home team with a 18-5 run, storming off the court with a 91-87 come-from-behind win and a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

That final run included a 14-0 spurt where the Hawks missed seven in a row from all areas of the court, imploding in front of their shocked hometown fans.

Jamal Crawford who received the NBA Sixth Player Award just prior to opening tip, was everything but, hitting just 4 of 18 from the field.

“This is incredible. We had the game won. It just slipped away from us,” Crawford said.

With this struggle and potential elimination ahead for the Hawks, coach Mike Woodson may want to get a fresh resume ready to shop around before the season ends.

Over his tenure, his team has shown several runs of unmotivated play and with his contract due again, he has good reason to be nervous.

Another face that may be packing his bags is All-Star Joe Johnson who becomes a free agent this summer. Sometimes criticized for his lack of consistency, Johnson again showed that side of his game during this crucial game, hitting just 6 of 16 from the floor for 13 points.

“It’s a terrible loss, embarrassing. It’s the same thing, effort, toughness, that’s killing us. Everybody here should check themselves in the mirror,” said Johnson.

Yes, effort and toughness but you forgot lack of motivation. Three important qualities that have been engrained into players at playoff time by passionate successful NBA coaches like Phil Jackson and Pat Riley.

Unless the Hawks find a way to win in Milwaukee on Friday then back at home in Game 7 on Sunday in Atlanta, Mike Woodson may be involved in his final playoff series behind the bench in Atlanta.

Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax™

Posted in NBAComments (2)

Atlanta Sports Teams Creating Big Buzz


Previously published in The Sunday Paper – Atlanta November 16, 2008

ATLANTA, GA. – There’s a buzz around the ATL, and it’s gaining momentum by the minute. For some it’s a cure for the Matt Ryan Atlanta Falconsstress brought on by billion-dollar bailouts, drawn-out wars, historic home foreclosure rates, the threat of recession. This fix comes in the form of two birds: Hawks and Falcons.

The Atlanta Falcons (4-0 at the Georgia Dome, 6-3 overall) and Atlanta Hawks (6-1 as The Sunday Paper went to press on Thursday) both sprinted out of the gate with ferocious starts in 2008, and are putting Atlanta back on the sports map. The Hawks are enjoying their best start since 1997.

And after underachieving seasons by both the Braves and Thrashers, the timing couldn’t be better.

For years, sports fans have leaned on their teams to provide an escape from the pressures of everyday life. When those teams are winning, it helps pull the city and fans out of their funks.

Detroit is a perfect example. The Motor City holds the crown for most troubling economy and severe collapse in real estate values. But when their Red Wings or Pistons take home a crown, millions take to the streets to celebrate, leaving their troubles locked up at home (if it hasn’t been taken by the bank yet).

That’s what Atlanta is experiencing right now. In the coffeehouses and on the streets of this city, sports chatter is picking up steam. Spirits are being lifted.

“The sports bars have been packed with local fans,” says Vinings resident Megan Harpring. Megan is no stranger to sports-she played basketball at Georgia Tech, and her brother plays for the NBA’s Utah Jazz.

“It’s filling everyone’s lives with something positive, something exciting,” she continues. “The success of the Falcons-it’s a motivator. We’re getting excited about the next game, the next weekend.”

Lawrenceville resident Derek Wheeler, another avid sports fan who played baseball for UGA, attended the Falcons’ miraculous last-second comeback against the Bears this year at the Dome and the Hawks’ Game 6 win against the Celtics last season. He is thrilled with his local teams. “It’s unbelievable, isn’t it?” he says. “I never would have thought the Falcons would have a year like this. And the Hawks-last year wasn’t a fluke at all.”

DOOM AND GLOOM

This aura of excitement stands in sharp relief to the dark clouds that have hovered over the city in the recent past.

When Atlanta’s All-Pro quarterback Michael Vick was sent off to live behind bars, doom and gloom set in for the city’s sports fans. And it only got worse. Their star player in shackles, their team a laughingstock, their head coach Bobby Petrino snuck out of town in the dead of night with his tail between his legs. Many of the Falcons’ star players abandoned ship or were traded away for pennies on the dollar.

A lot has changed since then. The Falcons, under the leadership of rookie general manager Thomas Dimitroff, rookie head coach Mike Smith and rookie-of-the-year candidate Matt Ryan at quarterback, continue to find ways to overcome their underdog status and win games.

No longer are fans wondering whether the Falcons have what it takes. The new questions on the street are: “Michael who?” “Bobby who?”

The NFL is certainly taking notice of the new Falcons. The league pushed the Nov. 23 Falcons/Panthers kickoff to 4:15 p.m. and upgraded the matchup to a national game. “I think that … is confirmation that we are doing things right,” Coach Smith said during a press conference last week.

The 23-year-old Ryan, fresh out of Boston College, has replaced Vick in the hearts and minds of Falcon fans and the general public. Vick is still listed as “suspended” on the Falcons’ team roster, but most expect him to be officially released soon after he swaps his prison garb for civilian clothes sometime next year.

At the Falcons’ side are the overachieving Atlanta Hawks, led by All-Star Joe Johnson, who always manages to shine while coasting under the NBA radar.

The Hawks’ performance in last year’s NBA playoff series against the heavily favored Boston Celtics brought life back to the lackluster franchise. Those young, inexperienced Hawks were expected to be swept off the planet in four merciless games. But they refused to go down without a fight, taking the Celtics (who eventually took the championship) to seven games.

Seven games into the 2008-09 season (at press time), the Hawks are continuing where they left off. Before Wednesday’s loss to the Celtics, they were the only unbeaten team in the entire Eastern Conference-that’s right, a hotter start than the Celtics, Pistons or Cavaliers. The 2009 NBA All-Star ballot includes five Hawks: Johnson, Josh Smith, Mike Bibby, Al Horford and Marvin Williams.

HOMETOWN HEROES

Local sports-talk radio programs have been bombarded with excited callers, heaping praise on the Hawks with comments like “They’re playing with passion” and “it’s awesome to watch.”

As Christopher Rude, co-host of the “Rude Awakening” morning show on 680 the Fan, put it: “Sports fans in Atlanta are guardedly optimistic.”

Marc Stein’s Week Two NBA power rankings on ESPN.com had the Hawks ranked fifth out of 30 teams in the league. “Atlanta has deservedly gate-crashed the top five with its first 5-0 start in a decade,” Stein wrote last week.

Considering that both teams’ rosters were recently stuffed with unknowns and rookies who were considered fortunate to be wearing pro uniforms, the fact that they’ve both stepped up and are quickly making names for themselves while returning a sense of pride to Atlanta fans seems nothing less than incredible.

I was at Ryan’s first game against the Detroit Lions, and witnessed his first NFL pass in front of his new hometown fans. The ball was snatched up by Michael Jenkins, who galloped 62 yards into the end zone. Last weekend against the New Orleans Saints, 22-year-old rookie Chevis Jackson intercepted a Drew Brees pass and raced 95 yards for a TD with 1:17 left to play, sealing another victory for the Falcons at the Dome.

Plays like these are like paper shredders, taking the heart-wrenching negative headlines we’ve been force-fed all week and slicing them to ribbons-at least for a moment.

We all need heroes. The larger-than-life champions in summer action films sweep us away from the doldrums of our current realities. And young, enthusiastic athletes like Matt Ryan and Al Horford, and men like Joe Johnson and John Abraham-guys who show up every day and play their hearts out, determined to overcome adversity-are doing the same.

Copyright © 2008 – Sports Climax

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