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Tag:Atlanta Hawks
Posted on: January 31, 2012 8:13 pm
 

NBA Power Rankings: Breakdown, Takedown Vol. 7

Posted by Royce Young and Ben Golliver

Not the best of weeks for Dwight Howard and the Magic. (Getty Images)

The 2011-2012 NBA season continues. Here's the seventh weekly installment of CBSSports.com's NBA Power Rankings by Eye On Basketball's Matt Moore.

What did he get right? What did he get wrong? We're here to break it down and take it down.

1. Too High: Atlanta Hawks at No. 9. Somehow, despite losing probably their best player, the Hawks aren't just keeping their head above water but soaring. They've won four of five games since the Al Horford injury. However, not exactly against marquee opponents -- New Orleans, Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee. It's a little hard to tell if the Hawks are actually going to overcome Horford's injury or if they're just getting by as a result of a soft spot in the schedule. I tend to think it's the latter and as the season drags on, we'll see the Hawks are mediocre at best and not a top 10 NBA team. -- RY

2. Too Low: Orlando Magic at No. 20. Last week, I had a little fun at Matt's expense when he dropped the Magic after their ugly loss to the Celtics. In hindsight, he was correct. But, unfortunately, he made the same mistake again! The Magic have had by far their worst stretch of the season -- pointing fingers at each other during a 4-game losing streak -- but they're still 12-9 and they're still safely in the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference. By comparison, the Trail Blazers, who Orlando beat in Portland, are also 12-9, barely in the West playoffs, and ranked No. 11 in this week's Power Rankings. Where's the consistency? These guys shouldn't be below 15, despite how ugly things have gotten of late. -- BG

3. Most Overrated: Washington Wizards at No. 26. This one isn't a disaster but it's hard to really make a case that there are four worse teams than the 4-17 Wizards. Sacramento, for example, is 6-14 despite being in a 4-game losing streak. The Kings have three quality wins over the Lakers, Spurs, Pacers and a sort-of quality win over the Bucks. That's pretty bad for a team in the basement. Washington, meanwhile, had that one shocking, pretty fluky win over the Oklahoma City Thunder plus three wins against patsies (two against the Charlotte Bobcats, one against the Toronto Raptors). Their body of work just screams lower than No. 26. -- BG

4. Most Overlooked: Utah Jazz at No. 10. It's natural to just assume the Jazz are overachieving and will eventually come back to Earth. That's not a team built with any stars or big names, and yet in the toughest division in basketball, they're 12-7 and in the thick of the West. Their point differential and efficiency numbers aren't great. But they are winning consistently. Not that the Jazz should be higher than 10, but I think we're all quick to discount them for whatever reason. Much in the same way we all wanted to ignore last season's Nuggets, the Jazz could be for real. -- RY

5. Sure Thing: Miami Heat at No. 1. Sunday's showdown against the Chicago Bulls made it clear that these two teams, if healthy, are the clear, clear, clear favorites to repeat as Eastern Conference Finalists. That series will be a blood bath, too. Miami played very well at times but it was far from a flawless victory. With a few days to let it sink in, they're probably feeling pretty fortunate given Dwyane Wade's shooting struggles and LeBron James' predictable late-game free throw gaffes. The TV ratings for the potential Chicago vs. Miami East Finals are going to be absurd. -- BG

6. Wild Card:
Indiana Pacers at No. 8. It's not fair to say the Pacers aren't exceeding expectations and having a great season. They are. They just beat the Lakers, Magic and Bulls last week. But one thing that's unshakeable for me is their bad losses. For example, a loss Jan. 18 to the Kings and then a whipping by Orlando Jan. 24. The Pacers are a bit erratic with their play and while absolutely a good team, I'm not so sure they are in true contender territory, which is normally reserved for the top eight. They're good, but just how good? -- RY
Posted on: January 22, 2012 10:00 am
 

Could Al Horford be the next union president?

Posted by Royce Young

Derek Fisher might be better known for his work as union president than for his work as point guard as the Lakers. Maybe that's not entirely fair, but Fisher represented the union with such class and dignity during the contentious labor negotiations that that's pretty much all I think of when I see him now.

But Fisher doesn't have much time left playing and there will need to be a new union president. Who could be next in line? According to ESPN.com, Al Horford is a leading candidate:
"File away Horford's name as a likely down-the-road top contender to succeed the Lakers' Derek Fisher as president of the players' union. The stately Fisher was elected president of the players' union in 2006 and had a more visible and prominent role during the five-month lockout than any of his predecessors has ever taken on.

Although he had to weather criticism over his perceived closeness to NBA commissioner David Stern, Fisher generally earned strong reviews for his contributions to ultimately getting a deal done to save the season, which is why he'll presumably be asked by his peers to carry on as president in the short term. But when Fisher has had enough -- he has two years left on a four-year term after re-election in 2009 -- word is that Horford will draw strong consideration as his successor."
I don't know enough about Horford to say whether or not he'd be as good as Fisher, but he would definitely have some time to learn on the fly. The new collective bargaining agreement doesn't have an opt-out for six years and doesn't expire for 10. So Horford might not even be in charge when it comes down to that.

But there's a name floating around to succeed Fisher and Horford is definitely another guy that's well spoken and full of plenty of class.
Posted on: January 18, 2012 10:20 pm
Edited on: January 18, 2012 11:16 pm
 

Nicolas Batum sent to hospital with eye injury

Posted by Ben Golliver

Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum got poked in the eye by Atlanta Hawks forward Tracy McGrady and he wound up in the hospital.

McGrady swiped at Batum's left eye while contesting a pass with roughly 9 minutes remaining in the second quarter of Wednesday night's game at Philips arena. No foul was called on the play and Batum remained on the court for the ensuing defensive possession. At the next dead ball he requested out of the game and immediately departed for the locker room with team staff. Batum left with 0 points, 1 rebound and 1 assist on 0-for-2 shooting in 9 minutes.

The Blazers reported that Batum would not return to the game during halftime and later noted that he was taken to an Atlanta-area hospital for precautionary X-rays. X-rays were negative for an orbital fracture and the team is listing him as day-to-day. CSNNW.com reported that Batum said he will play in Portland's next game against the Raptors in Toronto on Friday.

Batum, 23, is averaging 12.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game this season.

Here's video of Nicolas Batum getting poked in the eye by Tracy McGrady.


Posted on: January 12, 2012 3:17 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 3:22 pm
 

Reports: Horford out 3-4 months with torn muscle

Posted by Royce Young

The light on the Hawks season just went dim.

According to multiple reports, center Al Horford is out 3-4 months with a torn left pectoral muscle. Which doesn't necessarily mean he's done for the year, but the optimistic side, three months, brings him back mid-April. The playoffs start at the end of April.

Horford was injured Wednesday against the Pacers when he was blocked by Roy Hibbert on a dunk attempt. Horford left the game and did not return.

What this means for the Hawks is that they are not nearly as good as they were a day ago. They've started the season playing relatively solid basketball and a lot of that has to do with the consistentcy Horford gives them. Without him, the Hawks have Zaza Pachulia and Jason Collins in reserve. Which translates to big problems for Atlanta.

Not that the Hawks were a real contender, but then again, remember this team went to the Eastern Semifinals last season and played the Bulls pretty tough in six games. Horford isn't the East's best center, but he's certainly one of them. And not having him for most of the regular season is a massive blow.

How do you replace a guy like Horford, who was putting up 12.4 points and 7.0 rebounds a game with a PER of 20.0? It might not seem like a bunch, but he balanced the Atlanta offense. He gave Josh Smith the ability to be Josh Smith and provided a pressure release for Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams. He was off to a bit of a slow start this year anyway and was sure to pick it up. He's been a consistent 15-10 the two years prior.

The question is if the Hawks have a mind to try and make a deal to replace Horford or are they set with trying to let Pachulia and Collins handle the load? Or does Larry Drew dare try and get creative, letting Josh Smith drop down to the 5 with Williams playing power forward? There really isn't a good solution here right now. I've said it already, but this really is a massive blow to one of the East's playoff contenders.

The Hawks should still reach the playoffs in the East without him for these three months, but if he's not fully healthy for the postseason, Atlanta's season will end there abruptly.
Posted on: January 11, 2012 7:57 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2012 7:58 pm
 

Al Horford strains left shoulder, out for Hawks

Posted by Royce Young

Hawks center Al Horford was forced to leave Atlanta's game against Indiana early on after being blocked by Roy Hibbert on a dunk attempt. Horford is said to have strained his left shoulder on the player and will be re-evaulated Thursday.

Without Horford, the Hawks will look to backups Zaza Pachulia and Jason Collins. Obviously a major drop-off, but Horford will likely be day to day and if there's no major damage, should return soon.
Posted on: January 9, 2012 1:11 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 5:06 pm
 

The Baseline Awards 1.9.12



By Matt Moore


Welcome to the Baseline Awards, a weekly feature that goes over the biggest stories of the past week and hands out awards. Because awards are fun!

Eastern Conference Player of the Week: Best Overall performance by Eastern Player

Chris Bosh

Carmelo Antony is the easy choice here, but with the Knicks' struggles this week, and the Heat's overall success, Bosh gets the run. Bosh averaged 21 points and 7 rebounds over 4 games with the Heat this week, but more importantly, he was the rock for the Heat with Dwyane Wade and LeBron James missing time with injuries. Bosh has been more aggressive on both ends of the floor this season. He's allowing just .788 points per possession defensively this season and has been more aggressive in all phases of the game. It's still not a true "Big 3" but Bosh is changing his reputation this year. 

Western Conference Player of the Week: Best Overall performance by Western Player

Kobe Bryant

Welcome to the new Kobe. Bryant averaged 33.0 points per game this week with scoring totals of 37, 30, and 39 before Sunday night's 26-point performance against the Grizzlies. And yet the Grizzlies game may have been his best performance. He worked in the flow of the offense instead of breaking off in perimeter ISO. He played out of the post to get his array of moves going and created space against quality defenders, and he tallied nine assists. More than the numbers, though, he took his shots when he could create them and down the stretch, when faced with an open jumper at the top of the key versus a closing defender or reposting Andrew Bynum, he gave the big man the ball and let him draw the foul. A phenomenal performance from Bryant, outside of his game against Portland. 

Struggler of the Week: Player with worst performance qualified for expectations

Danny Granger

Granger had the worst percentage of any player over the past week, shooting just 24.5 percent from the field. He nabbed just 3.3 rebounds and dished just over one assist a game. Those are numbers you show to your kids at night to scare them into being good NBA players. Granger's clearly affected by the ankle injury he's struggled through, but right now a Pacers offense that needs him to carry his share of the load is missing him. Granger, for his part, isn't worried about it, and says it's a bunch of layups rattling halfway down and out. 

DOMINATOR AWARD: Most dominant performance

Andrew Bynum

Bynum averaged 16 rebounds per 36 minutes of play this week, and that only begins to describe his impact since returning from suspension. Bynum is unstoppable right now. It's not just the tip-ins after tip-ins, it's how he's altering shots, finishing lobs, creating space, working in the block. Bynum is Godzilla right now. Dwight Hward was still better overall (one more point in twelve fewer shots) but Bynum is unquestionably the second best center in the league right now. 

The Puzzling Enigma Award: Strangest week from player or team

Atlanta Hawks

Beat the Heat in Miami, with Wade and James playing by eight. Lose to Chicgo by two. Lose to the Heat, at home, on national television, without James or Wade, in double overtime, then have the Bobcats take you to overtime the very next night... and then on the third game of a back-to-back-to-back, beat the same Bulls team by 15. 

What?! 

The Hawks are that sibling that shows up for random family functions. Sometimes they bring toys for the kids. Sometimes they drunkenly stumble into the cake table. Sometimes they're not there at all. Sometimes they're solid as a rock. There's just no way of knowing what you're going to get form them on any given night. They're winning, and yet you can't watch them consistently and believe they're going anywhere. It's perplexing. I need to lie down. 

The Horde Award: Team you should fear


Portland Trail Blazers

No one is playing better overall ball right now. In a sluggish contest against Cleveland on a back to back Sunday, the Cavaliers had done a lot of things right and the Blazers couldn't throw the ball in the ocean. So what did they do? They came out after halftime and crushed them. This just three days after their biggest win of the season over the Lakers at home. 

And so much of it is Gerald Wallace. He is consistently the best player on the floor for Portland, and that's on a team with LaMarcus Aldridge. He's doing everything and doing it right. The Blazers are a buzzsaw right now. 

Cub Scout Troop Award: Team you should not fear

The Wizards are so easy it's painful. They're bad in every single phase of the game. Is it hot in here or it just Flip Saunders' seat? Wocka-wocka-wocka!

The McGavin Award: Best shooter

Paul George is hitting 73 percent from three-point range over the past five games. 

That's insane. 

George went away for the lockout and came back as one of the best catch-and-shoot assassins in the league. He's been a huge part of the Pacers' success. His length allows him to create separation any time he rises to fire and his release is Sundance-Kid-esque at this point. He pops over the screen and the nanosecond the ball hits his hands it's going toward his shooting motion. 

Searching For Bobby Fischer Award for Stratagem: 

Erik Spoelestra

Managed to keep winning without Wade and for a game without James against a playoff team. Has not only had the team adjust to the zone that gave them problems against Boston, but crushed teams who pulled it out. Has everyone motivated and on the same page and kept a low profile. It's easy to cast off the Heat's success as just talent, but if you watch the games, you'll know Spo is doing a hell of a job. 

Awkward Water Cooler Conversation Award for Coaching Struggle: 

Scott Skies

Bogut's been out, so that's obviously a problem. But for the second year in a row, the Bucks have come stumbling out of the gate. There's going to continue to be concerns that Skiles has lost this team as has happened in his other stops until they put together a string of good games, and that means on both sides of the ball. They have to find some offense somehow, someway. 

Blog of the Week:

Sactown Royalty

The Kings have a lot of moving parts and a lot of complicated issues on both sides of the ball. For a team that's been so bad for so long, you won't find a better place for analysis than SR, headed by SBNation's Tom Ziller. 

Awards Watch:

MVP Five to Consider (no particular order):
LeBron James
Derrick Rose
Kobe Bryant
Dwight Howard
Gerald Wallace

ROY Five to Consider:
Ricky Rubio
Kyrie Irving
Markieff Morris
Kawhi Leonard
MarShon Brooks

6th Man of the Year Five to Consider:
James Harden
Al Harrington
Jason Terry 
Lou Williams
Jamal Crawford

Posted on: January 6, 2012 2:51 pm
 

Friday 5 with KB: Smart moves

By Matt Moore



In this week's edition of 
the Friday 5, we find out if canning Westphal was the right move, if the Hawks need to detonate it, and who's in the trade market. You can follow Ken Berger on Twitter @KBergCBS

1. All right, so Westphal's out, Keith Smart is in. Was committing this early to Smart the right move for Sacramento?

KB: Yes. First, you need someone with knowledge of the roster/overall strategy and relationships with the players. Smart has established both. Second, and more important, you can't ask Smart to sit in the first chair without the backing of the organization -- particularly when the DeMarcus Cousins fiasco has such a tenuous hold on the locker room. With no security, Smart would have no juice. With no juice, he'd get run over by Cousins in a hurry. Another point: No self-respecting coaching agent would allow his client to be thrust into an interim situation without some assurance that the organization was backing him. As with all coaches, if it doesn't work out, you can always fire him later.

2. Atlanta actually was playing pretty well until Thursday when all of America decided they were the worst team in the history of everything. Is it time to blow up the Hawks?

KB: I'm really trying to stay away from knee-jerk overreactions in this shortened, chaotic season. So much of what we are watching is atypical and very difficult to evaluate given the circumstances. But in the long run, I don't see the Hawks going anywhere positive with more than $120 million locked up in Joe Johnson. The cynic in me wonders if the ownership group was thinking, "That won't be our problem," and now that they haven't been able to sell the team, well, it's their problem.

3. If Andrew Bynum keeps playing like this, it has to make L.A. hesitate on a trade for Howard, right?

KB: No way. Dwight Howard is Dwight Howard.

4. Give me a team that might get active in the coming weeks in a desperation trade to save the season.

KB: I'll give you three. It seems that the Warriors will be involved in almost every trade scenario out there. They're being super aggressive. The Wizards are in a bad place, obviously, but I'm not sure what trade possibilities could help them in the short term. (Though if I were Ernie Grunfeld, I wouldn't be too comfortable.) And as I mentioned in Postups, don't be surprised if the Knicks look to break up the Melo-Amar'e tandem if things really go south.

5. What are your New Year's NBA resolutions?

KB: No more hotel lobbies unless I'm getting Marriott points.
Posted on: January 6, 2012 12:12 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 1:25 am
 

Report Card: Bosh carries Miami to unlikely win

Posted by Royce Young


Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley absolutely killed it on the Heat-Hawks broadcast. From ripping on Weight Watchers and the game while being off camera to openly ripping the game on air, Barkley was his usual candid self. That's what makes Barkley so good. You can't really catch him in a "Gotcha!" off camera embarrassing moment, because he'll say the same crap on air. You might not agree at all with what he's saying but you never have to wonder if he means it or is saying what he's really thinking. When he was openly upset at this game going into overtime, it was sealed: Chuck gets the gold star for the night. 

Chris Bosh

While pretty much everyone was dying for the Hawks-Heat game to end (most notably Sir Charles), one person wanted it to go on forever: Chris Bosh. It was his time to shine. He was the star of a team again, the focus offensively and the guy to carry his team. He also might have had 'Nam-like flashbacks to his time in Toronto trying to carry a relatively talentless team to a win. Bosh had 33 points and 14 rebounds, carrying Miami to an unexpected win in Atlanta, while also drilling a game-tying 3 at the end of regulation to send the game spiraling into a couple overtimes.

Gerald Wallace and the Portland Trail Blazers

It's time to re-evaluate the Western Conference. The Blazers are the real deal. It's true. With a 5-1 start and signature back-to-back wins over the Thunder and Lakers, the Blazers are playing faster and player tougher than ever. And a lot of it is behind the play of guys like Wallace who are completely tearing things up. His defense down the stretch on Kobe Bryant was downright outstanding and he's basically become a one man wrecking crew for Portland as he patrols the glass, the paint and adds something in every area. Wallace defines the Blazers right now, who are the best team in the West.

The Heatles' backup singers

Mario Chamlers: 29 points, eight assists, seven rebounds. Udonis Haslem: 14 points, 11 rebounds. Terrel Harris (who?): nine points, 14 rebounds. Without Dwyane Wade or LeBron James, it didn't seem like the Heat had any prayer of hanging with the Hawks, but the so-called nobodies on the Heat weren't just going to hand it to them. They played hard and eventually outlasted Atlanta in triple-overtime. 

Keith Smart's Kings

It's always a great thing when a new coach gets a win in his first game. It's even better when it's behind a massive comeback in the second half. The Kings came back from 21 down and even 14 in the fourth quarter. It's clearly a terrific win for Sacramento and Keith Smart who looked to have the full attention of his young team as they battled and played hard throughout, but that doesn't excuse a miserable 12-point second quarter and the fact they looked terrible for a good portion of the game.

San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs dismantled the defending champs and did it without Manu Ginobili. But they also kind of played terrible. The Mavs were just way more terrible. San Antonio shot just 39.5 percent from the floor, but of its 34 baskets, 16 came from 3-point range. Nobody really stood out for the Spurs, but they had five guys in double-figures. They didn't win pretty, but they whipped the Mavs despite playing kind of bad.

Triple-overtime

The game in Atlanta kind of turned into one of those weird good-but-bad games by default. Without LeBron or Wade, it wasn't a must-watch contest with the Hawks, but triple-overtime is triple-overtime. Except for one problem: Because of it, the game of the night, Blazers-Lakers, had the entire first half wiped out. Nobody saw any of it. And it was evidently a pretty entertaining half of basketball too but instead we were watching the Hawks go 0-9 in the third overtime and the Heat's scrubs lead Miami to a weird victory.

Dallas Mavericks

I wish I could figure the Mavs out. This is the third "F" I've given them already. Another 20-point loss for the defending champs as the Spurs drilled them 93-71. Dallas shot 35.1 percent from the floor, went 1-19 from 3, had just one player in double-figures, had 29 points at halftime and only 42 points after three quarters. They looked like a team that had quit. If you didn't know any better, you would've thought Paul Westphal was coaching them.

Atlanta Hawks

What the heck? They beat a full-strength Heat the other day in Miami and then turn around and lose on national TV to a Miami team missing Wade and LeBron. Really, even if they had outlasted Miami and won in triple-overtime, they'd be getting an F. The lone bright spot of the game was some guy named Ivan Johnson who showed up big. But that's what it came to for Atlanta. Not Joe Johnson, but IVAN Johnson trying to carry them to a win. Joe Johnson, Jeff Teague, Josh Smith and Marvin Williams combined to go 16-59 from the field. What a frustrating night for the Hawks and one that kind of sums them up perfectly.
 
 
 
 
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