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Mike Bibby poured in five points and Marvin Williams followed with a long-range 3-pointer to post the Atlanta Hawks to a 98-89 win over the Miami Heat in a competitive one at Philips Arena. Atlanta somehow overcame 38 points by LeBron James to defeat the big
three, two of Chris Bosh and James.
Joe Johnson, who had 27 points, sealed the win with a late 3-pointer to win it for the Hawks, who have just two wins this preseason.
"Preseason is winding down we just want to fine tune for the regular season," Johnson told TNT's David Aldridge afterward. "These last two games are important for us."
Perhaps Atlanta wanted to send a bit of a message, too. The Hawks seemed to finally get coach Larry Drew's new offensive scheme, sharing the basketball. Five Atlanta players finished in double figures. Mike Bibby had 13, Al Horford poured in 12 and Jamal Crawford and Josh Smith added 11. The team dished 23 assists.
"As long as we have good ball movement and set picks, everyone is going to get open shots. We just need to stay focused," Johnson said. "It keeps the defense honest and you can't double team."
The win was a bit of a statement for the Hawks against their much-improved division rival, who signed perennial All-Star free agents James and Bosh to compliment Dwyane Wade in the offseason.
Wade missed this one because he was in Chicago fighting for custody of his children. He also is nursing a hamstring injury. Miami missed Wade down the stretch. The team missed its last five shots as the Hawks scored the 14 of the final 15 points of the contest to dispatch of the Heat.
The run was good enough to overcome a terrible shot choice by Smith in the final moments. With Atlanta up by 3 with 90 seconds left, the Atlanta forward pulled up and took an ill-advised shot from beyond the arc. Luckily, Mario Chalmers missed his chance on the other side of the floor before Williams put the game out of reach with his trey.
Nevertheless, when will Smith learn not to take the three? I love J-Smoove and have covered him since he was a rookie with the old PA SportsTicker. He's one of the best cats in the locker room if you want a good quote, but Smith is effective in the post not from downtown. He should know better than to take that shot by now.
This really doesn't seem like an exhibition game. LeBron James and Joe Johnson are exchanging shot-for-shot midway through the final period in a game that doesn't count in Atlanta. The Atlanta Hawks held the Miami Heat without a field goal for nearly 5-1/2 minutes before James drained his 31st and 32nd points of the game right before the TV timeout.
Johnson is primarily guarding James right now. He has 22 points and the Hawks are +12 when he is on the floor tonight. The Hawks are going with Jeff Teague at point right now, giving him a chance to run the team in a close-and-late situation.
James follows with a three-pointer to tie it with about 5 1/2 left. This one has all the indications that it's going to go down to the wire. The fans at Philips Arena are getting their money's worth tonight. Who would have thunk it?
Through three quarters, I can’t really criticize what the Hawks have been doing defensively, despite allowing 29 points (thus far) to LeBron James. He’s scored 11 of those at the free throw line-per usual, gets the benefit of a lot calls in his aggressive style. The Hawks have created 16 turnovers through three quarters, disrupting a lot of what Miami is trying to do.
Notably, Marvin Williams has done a fair job against LeBron thus far in this game. It’s really noticeable when he’s out as Mo Evans is a big step down defensively, at least at the small forward spot. James has had an easy time blowing past Evans to get into the paint for a basket or a foul. Marvin has also added 8 boards in his 24 minutes.
Am I the only one who is shocked that this Miami Heat-Atlanta Hawks game actually looks like a basketball game and not some sloppy preseason garbage-fest 36 minutes in? It seems like both teams brought their "A" game and that both coaches are using the same rotations they'd generally use in the regular season. (Well, the regular season against a team like the Golden State Warriors, but still, that's not bad for exhibition basketball.)
Jamaal Crawford hops, skips jumps, misses, but Zaza Pachulia picks up the missed shot and tips it home. After a Miami shot, Crawford follows with a trey to cap a 10-4 run to end the quarter. The Hawks, who trailed by as many as nine in this one, took a four point edge into the fourth. So what's the difference? Hawks coach Larry Drew had a theory for TNT's David Aldridge.
"It's the energy," he said. "I told the guys the onet hing we have to bring every single night is energy. We were down nine and the guys started pushing the basketball and we're back into it."
LeBron James, who ended the quarter with a bucket has played for almost 30 minutes through three quarters and leads all players with 29 points. However, the Heat are -9 when he is on the court in this one.
This update is brought to you by the city of Cleveland. They really, really, really wanted Lebron James to stay, but couldn't get him to stay. They even made that really, really, really cheesy video to keep him. It obviously didn't work, but is a hoot to look at.
Ummm. he made a choice alright and bolted Ohio for some warm Miami beaches.
Anyhow, back to the game. Al Horford is the Atlanta Hawks' best player in the third, scoring a couple of baskets to keep this one manageable. The kid, who is now sporting a bit of a full beard. The kid is growing up before our eyes into a real good basketball player.
TNT announces that Joe Johnson's contract was the richest in the NBA this offseason. Not Lebron or Bosh. Remember, those guys took less to play with a dream team. Johnson just got the best deal he could to stay in a city he kind of criticized last year.
Speaking of Miami, I am missing the finale of Jersey Shore to watch this wonderful preseason matchup between the Heat and the Hawks. But then again, what goes on in the lives of Snooki, "the Situation," Paulie D and JWoWW is about as irrelevant as the outcome of this one (and MTV will show it about 100,000 times between now and Sunday). The city of Miami was probably happy to get rid of the "creeping" Jersey Shore cast and are happy to watch watch the trio of James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade instead.
The Miami Heat take a five point lead into the break after making a run when Lebron James comes back onto the court. James leads all scorers with 21 points on 5-for-10 shooting from the field. He also has made nine of 12 free throws. Lebron told TNT's David Aldridge that the team was trying to treat this one like a regular season game.
"We know it's getting close to the regular season," James said. "We're just trying to play as well as we can."
It's comforting to know that the refs are treating it like a regular season game, too, giving James all those chances at the free throw line. Hawks fans are kinda treating it like a regular season game, also. The Highlight Factory is about half full. Glad to know that Atlanta's NBA fans knew better than to buy into the Lebron is coming to town hype.
Joe Johnson had a good first half, posting 17 points. But he didn't get to the line as much as Bron Bron. The only player also in double digits is Chris Bosh, who has 10 points. Marvin Williams has six points for Atlanta.
This game has a bit of star power in the stands, too. Julius Irving was sitting somewhere in the stands (but not the front row). Dr. J looked on as James blew past a couple of Hawks for the layup and the foul with about two minutes left. James made some pointing motion toward someone in the stands.
The Atlanta Hawks go silent from the field for almost seven minutes and commit four second quarter turnovers. Not surprisingly, the Miami Heat surge back ahead and take a modest lead. But just like that Atlanta puts its starters back in the game and Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams put the ball into the net to tie it.
It's good to see Jeff Teague back in the game alongside Zaza "the Conquerer" Pachulia, even if he is throwing elbows Chris Bosh's way. We know and love Zaza for not being afraid to go up against anyone, even if they are part of Miami's elite
three, two, one-and-a-half.
Lebron James was sitting on the bench for the first half of the second quarter. Dwyane Wade is battling injuries and legal issues and is not with the team. TNT is talking about how Wade is in Chitown testifying in his custody hearing, but should be back for the weekend as James Jones nails a three before Johnson answers with a three for Atlanta midway through the second.
Miami is 5-for-10 from behind the arc tonight, something the Hawks were prone to allowing the three-ball under coach Mike Woodson. More inane questions on TNT about how Lebron will "adjust" with Wade running the show. Ummm... Score early and often as teams have to pick their poison between doubling Wade, James or Bosh? They are acting like this Miami team is actually going to struggle with most of the other teams in the league.
The Atlanta Hawks used a 13-6 run to open up a seven point lead on the Miami Heat before
the Bron Brons Miami cut the deficit to three to close out the first quarter. Joe Johnson had the scoring lead for a while, posting 10 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the field, but ceded it to Lebron James by the end of the quarter.
James played all 12 minutes of the first, posted two treys added a field goal and was a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line in the quarter. The same can't be said for Josh Smith, who has five points for Atlanta, but has had his typical free throw issues. He's just 1-for-3 from the field.
The TNT announcers were trying to knock the Heat for being too small during the first quarter. Give me a break, that's like picking on your supermodel girlfriend for being five pounds too skinny. She's gorgeous either way and Miami is going to be a good team no matter what.
The TV telecast also panned over to Pat Riley in the first quarter. Is it me, or does he look a little bit old and not as slick as he used to? But not to worry,
Cleveland Miami transplants in Atlanta, you still have plenty of glamor with mini-Pat on dressed in a nice suit, tan as ever on the bench. It's good to see that Erik Spolestra's perma-tan is still glowing. He and the Jersey Shore's Snooki have quite a bit in common. I wonder what he thinks of "President Obama's tan tax."
Some things don't change. Lebron James threw the baby powder to start the game before taking the court with Chris Bosh for the Miami Heat's preseason matchup against the struggling Atlanta Hawks. About the only thing that's changed in the arena is the allegiance of all those new Miami transplants. It's kind off funny, they were all from Cleveland. How the heck did that happen?
Bosh scored the first points of the game as the Hawks had a bit of brickitis. Joe Johnson scored the first Hawks points before Josh Smith did what he does best -- swatted down a Bosh offering in the paint. He even managed to score on the other side of the court.
Of course, James set things straight by blowing past a pair of defenders and posting up a shot to the oohs and ahhhs of those
Cavalier Heat supporters at Philips Arena. He added a trey to tie it at 10-10 with just over 7:30 left in the first. Johnson put the Hawks ahead with a sweet layup and a dunk two minutes later.
Miami was without G Dwyane Wade who's a little banged up and away battling for custody of his kids. G/F Mike Miller's also going to be out for a while with a significant thumb injury. James claims that it's going to take until January for the Heat to fully gel. Whatever.
Technically, Monday's game was considered a National broadcast, but given the smallish distribution of viewers who have NBATV, tonight's game on TV marks the first truly nationally televised game of the year for the Hawks. The Heat have been the team most over covered since the beginning of the preseason, so you probably know a little bit about them already. Even if you do, here's an idea for
What To Watch For:
The Non-Big Three-Yes, we all know about Bosh, Wade, and LeBron. Every analyst with any kind of an opinion about the NBA has spent hours of televised discussion about how the three of them will work together. What I believe, and have always believed, is that the real test of the Heat will be the other guys. The Heat will be a good team regardless, but the play of guys like
Mike Miller (Thumb Injury), Carlos Arroyo, Joel Anthony, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas will determine whether they can be great.
Jeff Teague-He should be back tonight, even though there's no news yet defining whether he's playing or not. If he is, keep an eye on him, particularly on defense. If the Hawks are going to make a jump into the elite tier from where they were last year, they have to get improved defense from their guards, particularly the point guard spot. If Jeff Teague can improve the defense, the Hawks have a chance to make big strides. We still don't really have a good idea about what Teague can do because of his limited usage last year, but two things he'll definitely need to work on offensively are ball-control and jumpshooting; other than that, he should be fine on that end of the court.
Body Language-It's still the preseason, which is the important thing to remember after the loss to Orlando. Of course, Josh Smith isn't the ideal messenger when he tells us not to worry. If you want to know just how much you can learn from tonight's game, body language will tell the story. Hands on hips, heads downcast, slouched shoulders (aside from Marvin Williams) are indications that, hey, it's an exhibition game. Keep in mind, if the Hawks win, you'll still probably hear sound bytes about how it's a statement.
Jumpshots-The offense was as bland as it has been when they faced the Magic on Monday. There was a lot of motion that didn't really have an offensive purpose, and all the ball movement seemed to be aimed at generating jumpshots from 16-23 feet. Ask any coach in the game, those are the worst possible looks you can. Bobby Knight will give you a black eye for taking those. What any well designed offense tries to do is get a player opportunities to score at the rim. Without big Dwight holding down the center, look for the Hawks attempt to challenge inside more during this contest.
The Miami Heat's one-ring (2006) circus barrels into Philips tonight to dazzle Atlanta's legion lifelong* Heat fans, but partystarter Dwyane Wade won't be in the building. He's still being held out by either (A) a hamstring injury, or (B) a custody case. Word on the street is Wade will be back by this weekend, not that anybody would be going to see him anyway! We're here to see Chris Bosh!
Wade suffered his hamstring injury seconds into the Heat's preseason opener against the Chicago Bulls, nearly setting off a chain reaction that would prove The Onion prophetic. He's certain to be fine by next week's season opener.
His custody thing is in its first week of testimony. Wade is seeking custody of his two sons, age eight and three. He'd been rumored to be considering signing with the Bulls this offseason in order to be closer to his family, but LeBron LeBron LeBron. Also, Dwyane Wade's Wikipedia page is one of the most scrupulously gardened in all of sports. Not a word on it about this case, which is kind of a big deal.
* "Transient city." Just keep saying it.
LeBron James makes his Miami Heat debut at Philips Arena tonight against the Atlanta Hawks. (Oh, and Chris Bosh. Former Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets star Chris Bosh, too.) We haven't been blessed with James' presence since last year's regular season finale, when the Hawks won 99-83 as the Cleveland Cavaliers (remember that team?) sat most of its starters. In his last actual playing experience at Philips, James pounded out 48 points as the Cavs beat the Hawks, 106-101 in late December.
Heat G Dwyane Wade, who's injured and/or got court, as the kids say, won't make it tonight. In Wade's most recent showing, the Heat needed only 18 points from their star guard to put away the Hawks by ... 18. I attended both of those games, and have the grumpy face to prove it.
The Hawks played both James and Wade in their '08-'09 playoff run, needing way too many games to put away Wade's Heat and way too few to show they didn't belong on the same floor as James' Cavs. I don't know when Chris Bosh last came to town, and I really don't care enough to look it up. OK, fine.
The last time Bosh showed his face around here, the Hawks won by 31 points as Bosh played for 15 minutes and scored two points. Yes, I'm happy again after looking that up.
For Joe Johnson, this game is a look at what might have been. Johnson had been rumored to be a potential James tagalong in the great EA Sports NBA Real Life build-a-roster battle royal, but was offered
the keys to the city by the Hawks to stay. Now he hopes to lead a mostly young squad with a first-year coach back into the playoffs as James, Wade, and that guy giggle, dunk, and preen their way to the NBA Finals.
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