Hawks swingman Mo Evans has put up some gaudy numbers this season.Actually, he's put up three gaudy numbers this season.
The Hawks are 12-1 with Evans in the starting lineup this season, and that includes his four straight starts in the past week for Marvin Williams.
"We're going to have to lose three or four in a row before somebody can convince me that it's anything but a positive thing," Evans said. "All I'm doing is the same things I did last year in Orlando, and that's trying to diagnose the situation on a given night and do what I can to help my team win."
The Hawks will need Evans to do exactly that the rest of the season, since Williams is out indefinitely with a lower back injury.
A utility man extraordinaire, Evans is capable of a doing a little bit of everything the Hawks need him to do, sort of like he did in the third quarter of the Hawks' win over the Pacers Friday.
His first three-pointer, with 9:14 to play, pulled the Hawks to within a basket at 52-54, jumpstarting their comeback from an earlier 13-point deficit. He drained another three-pointer, with 5:41 to play, gave the Hawks the lead (62-60) for good.
His steal and running lay-up with 4:07 to play sparked an 11-2 quarter-ending run that put the Hawks firmly in control the rest of the way.
That last play might have been his best, Hawks power forward Josh Smith said, because Evans scored on a play when he peeled back after the Pacers rebounded a Joe Johnson miss and stole the pass and finished with a soft kiss off the glass while the rest of his teammates were up the floor in the other direction.
"That was where the entire game was decided to me," Smith said, "during that stretch it seemed like whoever found the energy to make those kinds of plays was going to win the game, and Mo stepped up and did what veterans are supposed to do. And it was all pure hustle. You've got to love that."
HAWKS 98, TRAIL BLAZERS 80: The same things that carried the Hawks early this season are the same things they're using now to rekindle their fire as the playoffs approach.
After relying all season on captain and All-Star Joe Johnson, sticky defense and the home court advantage Philips Arena provides to make their case as one of the NBA's newest upstarts, the Hawks are at it again.
Johnson notched his fourth straight 30-point game as the Hawks dusted high-powered Portland 98-80 Sunday to win their fifth straight game on their home floor with one of their best defensive efforts of the season.
The catalyst Sunday and throughout this five-game stretch has been Johnson, who worked the Trail Blazers for 35 points, seven rebounds and six assists Sunday.
"Joe's on a mission, I told (Josh Smith) that earlier," Hawks point guard Mike Bibby said. "And we need Joe to do that. We know if we win all the rest of these games we're going to hold down that fourth spot in (Eastern Conference) playoff hunt. It's in our hands. And that's why we have to keep playing hard and keep playing together."
It would help if they kept playing at Philips Arena. And playing defense like they have the past nine days. And playing with Johnson at the forefront of their attack.
The Hawks are a robust 25-7 at home, 5-0 on their current seven-game home stand, 33-9 when holding teams under 100 points and own a 2-1/2 game lead over Miami for that fourth spot.
"This is where we positioned ourselves at this particular time in the season," Woodson said. "Getting off to a great start to start the season, and then we had the run in December when we won all the home games, we were pretty good. I've said all along, if we're going to win at a high level this year, we have to win games at home."