Hawks captain Joe Johnson couldn't find anything wrong with the seven players chosen as reserves for the Eastern Conference All-Star team. And since he was one of them, becoming the first Hawk since Dominique Wilkins to be named to three consecutive All-Star teams, his approval was no surprise."I think everybody that made it deserved it," he said. "Everybody can always make the argument that somebody got left out. They do it every year. That's just the nature of the beast."
Hawks coach Mike Woodson, however, said there were players with legitimate gripes for not being selected, including Hawks point guard Mike Bibby.
"I think they all deserved to be there but there were some guys that didn't make it that deserved to be there, like Ray Allen and Mo Williams and even my guy, Mike Bibby," Woodson said. "But I don't think you've heard anything come out of the Celtics camp because they're only concerned about one thing, and that's winning another title. The fact is they can only take 12 (players) for the All-Star team and some guys are always going to be left out."
That Johnson wasn't one of them is a testament to the work he and the Hawks have done this entire season, and not necessarily of late. Johnson's January struggled have been well-documented.
But the All-Star nod seemed to breathe a little life into the Hawks' star.
"It's a huge accomplishment and honor," Johnson said. "And not only for me but for the entire organization. It's a tribute to my teammates and the coaching staff, because without them it's not even possible."
HAWKS 105, NETS 88: Joe Johnson's slump is over. Mike Bibby's too.
And so is the Hawks' losing streak.
The night after being named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team for the third straight year, Johnson returned to his All-Star form after a three-week hiatus. He and his backcourt mate Bibby were the catalysts in the Hawks' 105-88 win over New Jersey Friday night at Philips Arena.
The Hawks snapped a three-game losing streak overall and against the Nets with the win, improving to 27-19 and regaining their footing after a week of struggles at home and on the road.
Johnson scored a game-high 29 points, outplaying both Nets All-Star point guard Devin Harris and Vince Carter. He made 11 of his 17 shots from the floor but missed reaching the 10,000-point milestone for his career by one point.
Bibby had scored just 12 points on 5-for-36 shooting from the floor in his last three games before getting back on track with 20 points on 7-for-15 shooting against the Nets.
Johnson and Bibby broke out of their combined weeklong slump at just about the same time in the second quarter.
They combined for 23 of the Hawks' 55 points at halftime (they led 55-53 at the break). Johnson shot 5-for-8 from the floor while Bibby, after being scolded by Hawks coach Mike Woodson for passing up an open shot, bounced back from an 0-for-3 first quarter to make his next four shots.
Just how much of Friday night's flow the Hawks saved will be on display Saturday night in Milwaukee, their final game before a three-day break that could mark starting center Al Horford's return from a three-week absence from a bone bruise in his right knee.