The Knicks were just the appetizer for the Hawks. The main course of their current two-game road trip comes Friday night in Boston, where the Hawks will get yet another shot at their playoff nemesis from two years ago.
"Every time you turn around it seems like this is the team we're banging our heads up against," said Hawks forward Josh Smith. "I don't know if there's still any of that playoff animosity left to be honest with you. I mean, it's been a while."
It hasn't been that long. There's still plenty of that fire left, especially when you consider the Hawks' efforts against the Celtics since that series: they haven't beaten the Celtics since Game 6 of that first round series two years ago.
Hawks coach Mike Woodson loves to hold the Celtics up as the standard bearer for his team because the core of Doc Rivers' team remains from their championship season from that same year. And for a coach trying to keep his good (but not great) team motivated, nothing works better than the reminder that Big Brother can bring.
"They're at the top of the list if you ask me," Woodson said, "and that's because they've tasted that championship and what it feels like. Once you do that, it puts you in a totally different light in my book. And ultimately, that's what we're trying to do is get to the point where we can compete for the same things those guys (in Boston) are competing for."
HAWKS 114, KNICKS 101: Josh Smith early, Al Horford late and a little bit of everyone else in between.
The Hawks unleashed their entire arsenal on the good fans at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night, pounding the New York Knicks 114-109 for their sixth win of the season.
Horford led the Hawks with 25 points and also added nine rebounds, three assists and blocked two shots. Smith, meanwhile, finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and a block. They continued a trend of the Hawks dominating opponents when their young frontcourt tandem plays through the roof.
And they did it this time with Horford struggling mightily in the first half against the Knicks.
"I just needed to stay positive and not hang my head," said Horford, who scored 21 of his game-high 25 points after halftime. "We're still learning. We played ugly early and everybody has a bad half. But we made up for it in the second half."
Hawks coach Mike Woodson said he wasn't going to go away from Horford after those early struggles, no matter how bad things got early on.
"Al missed some bunnies early," coach Mike Woodson said. "But we knew we had to stick with him and he picked it up in the second half. But I really thought Josh was huge for us, especially with the double-digit rebounding. That was huge for us."
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