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Hawks top Cs, 97-86

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff  November 13, 2009 07:41 PM

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Hawks 97-86, END OF GAMEJamal Crawford hit one of two free throws, Al Horford put back a Mike Bibby miss and the Hawks iced the win. Seeing their two young guns Josh Smith and Al Horford walk off the floor with their vets Jamal Crawford, Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby, the team looks a lot more mature than the one that had lost eight straight in the Garden going back to the 2008 playoffs.

Hawks 94-84, 2:44Paul Pierce tried his best to be a one-man rally. He went glass, and drew a foul on Al Horford to fut the lead to 8, then bulled through the lane and drew foul on Joe Johnson, but hit only the first of two shots, cutting it to 7. Rasheed Wallace clanged a three that could have been a momentum-shifter, potentially cutting it to 5. Off the rebound, Joe Johnson drove for a layup, got the foul and hit the freebie to get it back up to 10.

Hawks 91-80, 2:48:Hard to say if Rasheed Wallacecame across with his arm or if Jamal Crawford was trying to block him off, but Wallace was called for the foul and Crawford went to the line and made both free throws. Josh Smith tacked on two more, putting the Cs in a hole that might be hard to climb out of.

Hawks 87-76, 4:44:Another tech, and it was sort of a silly one: defensive three seconds. Joe Johnson hit another free throw. Then, Joe Johnson came down and got a bucket and an and-1. Now the Cs are fighting the Hawks and the clock.

Hawks 83-74, 7:04: Whenever someone brings up intensity and technical fouls, Doc Rivers always talks about techs in the fourth quarter, which are costly at a critical point in the game. Kendrick Perkins was whistled for one for throwing an extra little elbow into his defender after sinking a lay-up (Joe Johnson sank the free throw) and Kevin Garnett was nearly called for another when he tried to bully Zaza Pachulia, but referee Derrick Collins let him off with a warning.

Hawks, 82-72, 8:34: Paul Pierce is back in the game with tape and a brace on his left knee. He bruised it in the third quarter. Rajon Rondo is also back on the floor after icing his finger. The Celtics, though, are trying to dig out of a fourth-quarter hole.

Hawks 63-62, 3:49 Atlanta's figured out the three-ball, syncing four of six this quarter, including a couple from Mike Bibby and Jamal Crawford. The Celtics keep playing the iron symphony from deep, but to a degree -- with only three long balls taken so far -- they've kind of avoided it, getting to the line (8-of-9) and the paint (10 points) instead.

Celtics 56-53, 6:22: Kevin Garnett said a couple games ago that there were points during the stretch when the Celtics were out of sync where they just gave the able to Paul Pierce and let him work. Looks like he's back in that position again this quarter. He's scored eight points this quarter, going to the line for six of them.

Tied 48-48, 8:19: Watching Al Horford and Josh Smith play volleyball around the rim for a rebound and ultimately kicking it to Mike Bibby up top for 3, only reinforced how much of a problem the Hawks have been on the boards. They've scored 11 second chance points. The Celtics don't any. Right now the rebound margin is 29-17, 10-4 on the offensive end.

The Cs are shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor (19 of 39), but they're struggling from 3-point range (1 of 8). The Hawks haven't shot it well from long-range either (0 for 6) but they're doing their part to keep the Celtics in the game, turning the ball over 10 times. But the biggest difference is in the paint where the Hawks have dominated 25-13 (8-3 on the offensive glass). Al Horford's been a monster, grabbing seven boards, and hitting four of his five shots. Kendrick Perkins has shouldered most of the Cs load rebounding, pulling down a team-high five, while Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have done the bulk of the scoring with 10 points apiece.

Celtics 42-41, END OF HALFWatching Josh Smith defend in the post sort of shows why it's hard to use stats to judge defense. Smith is second in the league with 2.6 blocks a night, and he's obviously a disruptive defender, but Kendrick Perkins took advantage of him on the post for dunk and Kevin Garnett had his way with Smith earlier.

Celtics 40-39, 1:44:The Hawks made a mini-run with Joe Johnson scoring a couple quick baskets, but Paul Pierce found KG in the corner for a long two then ran down with Rajon Rondo a possession later and turned a Rondo feed into the kind of one-handed slam not onlygave the Cs the lead again but got Mike Woodson to cal a timeout to gather his team..

Celtics 34-31, 5:26: Paul Pierce comes back into the game and gets off a long jumpshot from straightaway.

Celtics 32-28, 8:25: Al Horford lost control trying to spin in the paint, Rajon Rondo came up with the loose ball and pushed it up to Marquis Daniels, who found Eddie House standing on (not behind) the three-point line for a long deuce. Defense to offense: it's how leads are born. The Hawks have nine turnovers so far, and haven't paid too much for them yet (7 points).

Celtics 25-24, 10:00: As much as people complain about it, when Rasheed Wallace does hit a triple, you can feel the momentum shift. The Cs have the three-point lineup on the floor with Ray Allen, Eddie House and Sheed, who Allen found at the top of the key for a 3 that gave the Cs their first lead of the night.

Hawks 24-20, 8.9: As far as ability to get to the paint, Marquis Daniels might be third best on the team behind Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce. He used a KG screen to got an easy layup.

Hawks, 24-18, 1:55: Before calling a timeout, the Celtics went with Rasheed Wallace and Kevin Garnett on the floor at the same time, which is always interesting. The lineup out of the TO: Marquis Daniels, Rasheed Wallace, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo.

Hawks 22-16, 3:00: Kevin Garnet went strong for a deuce over Zaza Pachulia, drawing the foul (missing the free throw). No foreheads were involved.

Hawks 20-14, 3:35: Marvin Williams, tagged as a bust early in his career, doesn't look like much of one at this point, hitting a smooth stepback over Paul Pierce. Kevin Garnett hit Josh Smith with a nice little move on the left post.

Hawks 14-6, 6:18:The Hawks came out swinging. Mike Bibby still gets boo'd whenever he touches the ball. Fans don't forget much. But he hit a nice jumper from the right side, making the most of a busted play.

Whatever you do, don't call it a rivalry, but the Cs and Hawks are back at it. Ten grand is not on the line, but an early-season conference win is at stake. Atlanta has a nice little record, 6-2, tied for second in the East with Miami. They've got a couple of nice wins as well, including running up a 125-100 "W" on Denver.

The completely unexpected first-round slugfest between the two teams two playoffs ago was a topic before the season started when Al Horford said Paul Pierce bet him $10,000 that the Hawks would win a game. Horford quickly backed off the statement. But in a way, Hawks coach Mike Woodson said, the Hawks owe a lot to that series. Atlanta went 47-35 last season and earned the fourth spot in East.

"I think, you go back two years ago, the Celtics taught us how to play playoff basketball. And it really set us up for last season in terms of the 47 wins and securing one of the top four spots. I always thought if you can beat the best team in basketball, there’s not a team in the league that you can’t beat. I thought we proved that last year. But now our expectations are higher this year, we’re trying to get to a better place than we were last year."

As for the 8-1 Celtics, they're just keeping the machine oiled on the front end of back-to-back games. Rivers said every player is available (save for Glen Davis, obviously).

Here are a couple of the story lines.

Looking more than comfortable in his role with the Cs, Sheldon Williams gets a chance to play against the team that took him with the fifth pick in the 2006 draft the traded him three years later.

Williams already addressed the feeling of facing his former team. Woodson weighed in before the game.


In the NBA, if you play this game long enough, you’re going to do well in certain spots, sometimes it’s not going to work out and that’s just the nature of the league. Sheldon has moved from us to a couple of spots and he’s finally found a home and I’m happy for him, because that’s what it’s about at the end of the day.

There wasn’t a problem. I just think after his first year, we brought Al Horford in, and we started to play Al Horford. Then we made the trade to bring Mike Bibby over. It wasn’t a knock against Sheldon. The organization and my staff and I decided to go in another direction and Sheldon has rebounded from it and he’s landed in I think a wonderful situation for him."

LeBron James pulled an E.F.Hutton, saying he plans on changing his number from 23 to 6 next year and encouraging all the other 23s in the league to do the same in honor of Michael Jordon.

Ray Allen, a Jordan Brand athlete, said he'd stand behind it.

“He definitely can start a trend since he’s probably the most notable 23 in the league right now," Allen said. "It would be a tremendous homage paid to the best who ever did it. I think most of us would agree with that.”

Woodson agreed.

"It’s important," Woodson said. "There’s no doubt about it. MJ and what he did wearing it is phenomenal. And it sends a strong message if the guys do that. I think Michael Jordan probably the greatest player to play the game, I think.

Rivers was up in the air.

lebron%28200%29.jpg"I don’t know if there’s a right answer on that," Rivers said. "He said he was going to wear No. 6. Hell, that number should be retired. I don’t know what the right answer to that question is. I think it’s good either way."

Dr. J, also in the argument for the game's greatest player, wore No. 6. Jackie Robinson, of course, is the only athlete to have his jersey universally retired.

Allen acknowledged the difference, saying, "He stood for a people, more than just a brand or an idea or a culture or a pop culture. Jordan was an icon and a part of pop culture. There’s a difference, but I think they both had their impact equally. Jackie Robinson has such stronger presence because he stood for equality in the game when there was no equality."

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