While his teammates were focused on trying to make sure he got his 10,000th point in the late stages of Friday's win over New Jersey at Philips Arena, Hawks captain and All-Star Joe Johnson was just trying to make sure they got the win.Johnson had no idea his game-high 29 points had left him one point shy until he went to the bench with a couple of minutes left to play and the Hawks in control of the game.
"That's one of the reasons you're glad to see him reach that milestone," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said before Saturday's game against Milwaukee at Bradley Center. "Guys like Joe are what this league should be about. Humble stars who play the game the right way and who do it without making all that noise about doing their business, those are the guys that make this league what it is."
Johnson didn't have to wait long to reach that milestone Saturday. He scored the game's first basket on a jumper off the glass with 10:33 play.
Perhaps Johnson will be more impressed with his accomplishment later in life. Because he wasn't particularly enthused with reaching the 10,000-point plateau as it was happening.
When the Bucks honored him on their Jumbotron at the next time out and the crowd cheered for him, his facial expression never changed.
At halftime, when a reporter chided him about showing so little emotion, Johnson said the only thing he was concerned with was winning the game.
"Just win, baby," he said. "That's all it's about. These stats don't mean nothing if you're not winning."
BUCKS 110, HAWKS 107: Whatever the blueprint was for defeating the Hawks this season, the Milwaukee Bucks rewrote it Saturday night.
Not only did the Bucks clip the Hawks, they did so with a surgeon's precision on both ends of the floor.
They crowded Hawks captain and All-Star Joe Johnson on the offensive end, disrupting the Hawks' offensive flow early. And they attacked the Hawks' inside and out on the defensive end, outscoring them 52-38 in the paint and going 7-for-13 from beyond the 3-point line.
Johnson finished with a hard-earned 22 points, but he was also 8-for-20 from the floor. He also had nine assists.
Mike Bibby added 24 on 8-for-15 shooting and also had four assists. Flip Murray added 18 off the bench, Josh Smith matched him with 18 and 11 rebounds and Zaza Pachulia 11 and five rebounds.
But the Hawks (27-20) couldn't muster enough of that when it mattered most, their late rally was overshadowed by their inability to get stops on the defensive end.
Luke Ridnour's free throws with 7.0 seconds to play put the finishing touches on the game and the Hawks rally, which got as close as a basket on a Smith layup with 7.6 seconds to play. Richard Jefferson added insurance free throws for the final score with 2.4 seconds left.
That the Hawks were even in the game down the stretch is a testament to their relentless attitude that only seems to appear when they get behind.
They trailed 53-48 at halftime, but could have been down much more after yet another opponent dictated the terms in the early going.
They trailed by as many as 18 points in the second quarter, only to stage a monstrous rally and get to within three points in the final minute before halftime.