It's not quite as catchy as "Joe the Plumber," but Hawks coach Mike Woodson envisions a role as a creator for Hawks All-Star Joe Johnson to add to his list of responsibilities.With teams as geared up as ever to stop him on the offensive end, as evidenced by the relentless pressure both Oklahoma City and Chicago put on him in games earlier this week, Woodson said Johnson has to continue to find his open teammates. It worked to perfection against the Bulls, with Johnson piling up a season-high eight assists on a night that saw him make just four of his 16 shots from the floor.
It worked against Boston, too, as Johnson found Marvin Williams for a go-ahead three-pointer with 7.4 seconds to play.
"That's going to happen," said Woodson, whose team has to regroup from its first loss of the season in time for Friday's game in New Jersey. "I think the luxury of our team this year is that while we didn't have very many shooters around him last year when he got double-teamed, we've got some shooters now, guys that knock down shots. So you can keep them honest now when they're trying to do that."
For his part, Johnson said he's going to refine his approach knowing that teams are paying extra attention to him.
"I just got to take my time and let the game come to me," Johnson said. "I can't go out there and force it."
CELTICS 103, HAWKS 102: Whoever said the sequel is never better than the original didn't count on the Hawks and Boston Celtics hooking up for yet another instant classic. Wednesday night's regular season matchup didn't have as much riding on it as any of the seven games the two teams played in a first round playoff series last spring. But it had every bit the drama, all the intrigue and a better finish than any of the four games the Celtics won at TD Banknorth Garden during the playoffs.
Paul Pierce's 20-footer from the wing with five-tenths of a second to play gave the Celtics a 103-102 win in a thriller, offsetting a three-pointer from the corner from Marvin Williams that lifted the Hawks to a 102-101 lead with 7.4 seconds to play.
It was the Hawks' first loss of the season (6-1), but it was perhaps their finest showing to date this season. They were down by four points four different times in the final three minutes and still managed to come back every time, the last one on the three-pointer by Williams.
The final shot capped a huge night for Pierce, who led all scorers with 34 points and six rebounds. Fellow All-Stars Kevin Garnett (25 points and 12 rebounds) and Ray Allen (17 points) were the only other Celtics (8-1) to reach double-figures.