--New Jersey G Devin Harris kicked off what should be an All-Star campaign with 63 points and 18 assists in back-to-back wins over the Hawks last month.Both performances left a lasting impression on Hawks coach Mike Woodson, who wiped his head before Friday's game in New Jersey when asked what he was going to do to try and slow Harris down this time.
"There's no doubt he's playing at an All-Star level," Woodson said. "That much should be clear to everybody. And it's not just his scoring but everything he's doing out there right now."
That's why Woodson decided to make Hawks captain and All-Star Joe Johnson the primary defender on Harris, hoping to fight fire with a little more fire.
"You have to come up with something to deal with him," Woodson said. "We didn't have (Josh Smith) when we played them before, so that allows us to do some different things defensively throughout the course of the game. But you have to deal with Harris first and foremost."
--The mutual admiration society flows both ways between the Hawks and Nets.
Nets coach Lawrence Frank said he's been extremely impressed with the Hawks and the way they've played this season, particularly in the way they can adjust to whatever style is being utilized by the other team.
"They're able to play different ways -- Chicago went there and made it a frenzy, and Atlanta was right there with them, went toe-to-toe and put up 120-plus," said Frank, who was ejected from the game with 6:59 to play before halftime after getting two quick technical fouls for arguing with Luis Grillo. "Defensively, they're better. You see a team that's built upon what they did in the first round (of the playoffs). After they lost to us, they went into a tough stretch, but they're 11-4 since Josh (Smith) got back, so they're in a good rhythm.
"It's proof in the pudding that what's nice about it, they're a team with the main parts that have been together over the course of time. They've kept their coach through some lumps and you see them excel. They're making progress every year."
--Mario West's halftime heave that beat the buzzer for a 49-29 Hawks lead wasn't just luck.
West and fellow reserve guard Flip Murray spent a good portion of the Hawks' Friday morning shoot-around practicing making shots from beyond half court.
The hard work paid off when the Hawks scrambled in the final 4.1 seconds before halftime and got a steal that ended up in West's hands as he raced up the floor and hurled his shot toward the rim and it went in.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "If you're one of the top teams in the East, you have to be able to finish a game like this. You have to make your free throws and you have to finish." -- Hawks coach Mike Woodson, after his team blew a 20-point lead and lost to the Nets.