Hawks coach Mike Woodson worried himself sick before Friday's game about Mike Bibby's sprained left thumb.Despite the go-ahead from the Hawks' medical staff and a specialist, Woodson wasn't sure his starting point guard would be ready to play against Chicago at Philips Arena.
"I don't know," Woodson said. "I don't know if he can catch the ball with that thumb. If he can't go, we'll have to go with Acie (Law IV)."
Woodson was worrying for nothing, so there's no need to fret before Sunday's game against the New York Knicks at Philips Arena.
Bibby started the game a perfect 6-for-6 from the floor and 2-for-2 from the free throw line and had 18 points before missing his first shot, a deep jumper, with 3:38 to play before halftime. With his thumb wrapped up tighter than usual -- Bibby had surgery to repair a torn ligament in the same thumb and missed 36 games earlier this season -- he seemed to operate just fine.
Bibby tied his season-high for points (24) three minutes into the third quarter and finished his night with 30 points, eight assists and three rebounds without a single turnover.
He made six of his eight shots from beyond the three-point line and guided the Hawks in a way only a veteran point guard of his caliber could. So much for Woodson's worrying.
"I told you, unless something's broken or torn," Bibby said, "I'll be out there. I don't care what else goes on, I'm going to be out there with what we've got on the line."
So true. And now that the Hawks are 32-40 and a game-and-a-half ahead of New Jersey for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot, it's time for Bibby to lead them to the next phase: turning that small cushion into a bigger one.
"We have to spread this thing out a little bit," Bibby said. "There aren't many games left. We have to cross everybody out of the picture and we'll be fine."
HAWKS 106, BULLS 103: There's a reason the Hawks' playoff hopes have been on life support the last three months. Losing leads of 19 and 22 points in the same game the way they did in Friday night's nail-biting 106-103 win over Chicago at Philips Arena is a sparkling reminder.
Sure, the Hawks held on to beat the Bulls. But that was after doing everything in their power to toss yet another game they should have won going away onto the mile-high pile of missed opportunities that have come to define their season.
If Ben Gordon's 27-footer at the buzzer hadn't rolled off the rim, the Hawks would have had to take their chances in overtime against a rugged Bulls team that was charging back for the win. Marvin Williams secured the rebound of that miss to preserve the win for the Hawks.
Rookie center Al Horford provided the game-winning points on a fast break dunk with five seconds to play, having slipped behind the Bulls' defense on an inbounds play.
"Everybody got caught looking at the ball and I just took off," said Horford, who finished with 16 points, three rebounds and two blocks. "I thought there was less time on the clock than there was but I knew I had to go score and make sure we had the cushion.
"The worst part is we had those leads. But Chicago is such a tough team, they never go away. We did get a little complacent out there, but fortunately guys stepped up and made big plays and were able to hold them off and get the win."