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News » Atlanta Hawks Getting Inside 2008-03-31

Atlanta Hawks Getting Inside 2008-03-31

Atlanta Hawks Getting Inside 2008-03-31
Some people might have already penciled the Hawks into their playoff brackets.

But don't tell coach Mike Woodson.

He's still coaching like it's training camp, adding new wrinkles whenever he can, and that includes practices and games with only a couple weeks left in the season.

"Just because we're down to the final (three weeks) of the season doesn't mean we're not still teaching and tweaking the things we do," said Woodson, whose team heads back to the road for Monday night game against Memphis. "We're still working to get to where we want to be, and that includes coming in here and getting our work done every day."

The physical grind of a tough season has no doubt taken a toll on the Hawks' starters and rotation players.

But they can't afford to let up.

Not now.

Not with all that they have on the line -- the Hawks are 2 1/2 games ahead of New Jersey for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

"It's tough on everybody right now," said Hawks captain and All-Star Joe Johnson, who has piled up more minutes than anyone this season and ranks second in the league to Denver's All-Star workhorse, Allen Iverson, at 41 minutes per night. "But somehow, some way, we all have to dig down and do whatever it takes to keep fighting to get this done.

"We let that fatigue get the best of us against Chicago (Friday) and a little bit against New York (Sunday) and that allowed them to get back into the game and made things a lot more complicated than they should have been. All we can do, though, is keep grinding."

HAWKS 114, KNICKS 109: It's been a while since Marvin Williams had it rolling the way he did Sunday afternoon at Philips Arena.

It's been weeks since Marvin Williams played as well as he did in Sunday's win over New York.

He caught fire at just the right time for a Hawks team that desperately needed someone to step up and help them finish off a huge week of home games with their playoff fate still hanging in the balance.

But not even the Hawks' third straight win, a 114-109 defeat of New York, was enough to relieve the worry Williams and his teammates carry with them these days.

Their lead over New Jersey for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot is now 2 1/2 games, yet there's no time to feel just a little bit comfortable, not even for a night -- a game in Memphis Monday night presents the next challenge.

"Comfortable," Williams said incredulously after leading the Hawks with 27 points and 11 rebounds, just his third 20-point game since the All-Star break and his first game leading the Hawks in scoring since scoring 22 in a Feb. 2 win over New Jersey. "We can't feel comfortable until April 20, when the playoffs start. The goal is to keep fighting for it, so we have to stay the course and keep working hard."

The lowly Knicks made the Hawks fight for every inch Sunday. Jamal Crawford torched the Hawks for a game-high 39 points, 19 during an unreal third-quarter stretch that saw him abuse every defender the Hawks tried on him.

But while Crawford was doing his thing, the Hawks were busy putting together one of their more balanced efforts of their recent run, which includes winning eight of their last 12 games.

They outscored the Knicks 62-44 in the paint, out-rebounded them 49-39, had 32 assists on just 41 made field goals and overcame some early-game lethargy to beat the Knicks for the third time this season.

"We were kind of coasting a bit," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said of his team, which led by as many as 14 points at one point. "We picked it up somewhat after halftime. But it was a great team effort. And the bottom line is we won. That's what counts right now. Every win is important as we move up."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: March 31, 2008


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