The Hawks' first home game in more than a week couldn't have come at a better time.Counting the preseason, the Hawks have already had three road trips of at least a week or longer.
"I almost forgot what my place looks like," said Marvin Williams, who ushered in the Hawks' eight-game homestand with a new haircut, a Mohawk, and a 97-92 win over Cleveland at Philips Arena. "We've had to deal with the road for (14 of our first 22 games), so now we have a chance to get a little home cooking for ourselves."
What the Hawks do with it will have a major impact on how they enter the 2009 portion of the schedule.
They are 8-1 at home. Anything close to that success rate during this homestand would be a huge boost.
"That's the plan," Williams said. "We've got to take care of home."
Dating back to last season's playoff run against Boston, Wednesday's dinner guest at Philips Arena, the Hawks are 11-1 on their home floor.
So for every pothole they've fallen into away from home, they've more than made up for it with huge wins before the home crowd.
"Our home fans are the difference," Al Horford said. "They're the key. Being at home and playing in front of our crowd makes all the difference in the world, the same way it did for the teams we've faced on the road."
HAWKS 97, CAVALIERS 92: It's too easy to get caught up in the glare of the aura that surrounds Cleveland star LeBron James.
The Hawks almost stared too long Saturday night at Philips Arena, allowing James and his crew back into a game that had the makings of a rout early.
But the Hawks held on, getting a huge block from Josh Smith, a critical offensive rebound from center Al Horford and a desperation rebound and free throws from Marvin Williams, all in the final 45 seconds, to secure a win, their eighth in nine home games this season.
The win also snapped the Cavaliers' 11-game win streak, a mercurial stretch that began with a 110-96 win over the Hawks on Nov. 22 in Cleveland.
"This was a big, big win for us," Horford said. "Especially after they came back and took the lead on us in the fourth quarter. But our guys made some big shots down the stretch when we needed to. When we needed them, Mike (Bibby) and Joe (Johnson) stepped up and made the shots for us."
With the Hawks trailing with a little over two minutes to play, Bibby drained a 29-footer for a 92-90 lead.
Johnson added a baseline jumper a minute later, and the Hawks had the lead for good.
The defensive stops and rebounds in the final 45 seconds served as the icing on the homecoming cake for the Hawks, who returned from a brutal four-game road trip early Saturday morning and then kicked off their eight-game homestand 15 hours later.
"It's definitely a big win for us," said Bibby, who led all five Hawks starters in double figures with 24 points, six rebounds and five assists. "They're one of the best teams in the league. We came out and just showed how good we can be when we help each other out defensively."