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NBA scores: Hawks out to uneven start

While Atlanta is only 3-4 after the first few weeks of the season, their schedule gets significantly easier going forward.

Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

No one said replacing Joe Johnson, who had made six consecutive All-Star Games, would be easy.

After dealing away their franchise player in an effort to clear salary cap space in the off-season, the Hawks knew they would be taking somewhat of a step back this season.

As a result, their 3-4 start, which featured games against several of the best teams in the NBA, is mildly encouraging.

The Hawks have become a much more balanced team, with Jeff Teague, Josh Smith, Al Horford and Lou Williams all averaging between 13 and 15 points a game.

But the real story has been their defense, as despite lacking a traditional center or small forward, they've managed to have the 11th rated defense in the NBA, despite playing the Thunder, the Heat, Clippers and Rockets in November.

But after going 1-2 on the start of their four-game West Coast road trip this week, Atlanta has a chance to bank some wins and push themselves towards the top of the Eastern Conference over the rest of the month: at Sacramento, vs Orlando, vs. Washington, at Charlotte, vs. LA Clippers, vs Charlotte and vs. Cleveland.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.