Even if the Hawks tried to forget their recent past, it would be virtually impossible. But it's hard to deny the startling distance they've traveled from 13-69 (for the season) a few years ago to 17-6 (a little over a month into) this season.
Winners of four straight games heading into Wednesday's matchup against Memphis at Philips Arena, Mike Woodson's team finally seems to have grasped what he's been preaching all these years.
"Our motto is pretty simple," Woodson said. "Play smart, play together and have fun. If you talk to those guys in the locker room, I think they'll tell you that all we've been working for is right here in front of us now."
When you're pulverizing the opposition the way the Hawks have been lately, it's not hard to figure out that something cosmic might be in the works this season.
"We're playing pretty good right now as a basketball team," Woodson said. "We're doing everything right defensively. We look like we're having fun, sharing the basketball and doing all the necessary things to score points in the right way. So it's nice to see."
Even better is the newfound maturity and mettle his team has shown away from Philips Arena.
The Hawks have already won seven road games, nearly half their total from a year ago. And instead of crumbling at the first sign of adversity, Woodson's team has shown a propensity for absorbing a few early blows and then dominating when things are on the line.
"I guess that's just who we are now as a team," Al Horford said. "We're older and wiser and just a whole lot better than we've probably been in the past."
HAWKS 130, NETS 107: When Randolph Morris and Othello Hunter are finishing games instead of Josh Smith and Al Horford, there's only two reasonable conclusions you can make.
Either something has gone terribly wrong for the Hawks or they've blown out yet another hapless opponent.
It was certainly the latter Sunday afternoon, when the Hawks sprinted through the Nets at Philips Arena for their fourth straight win.
Morris and Hunter were out there for the final nine minutes of the game thanks to the work Smith, Horford and the rest of the Hawks regulars had done earlier.
"We're just trying to strive for bigger and better things every night out," Smith said. "It's not rocket science. Defend, rebound, share the ball and don't let up. If we stick to those things, I think we'll be fine."
Not only did they smack the 2-22 Nets around, they simply toyed with yet another opponent that was incapable of slowing down a Hawks team that hasn't dealt with too many speed bumps lately.
All five starters reached double-figures in scoring and so did Jamal Crawford and Jeff Teague off the bench. The Hawks led by as many as 26 points and were never seriously challenged after the first quarter.
"It took us a while to click defensively and get stops," Horford said. "But give New Jersey credit, they have good offensive players and they made shots."
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