--The toughest part for the Hawks, it turns out, was targeting, pursuing and then pilfering a coveted restricted free agent away from a Phoenix team that many people thought was on the cusp of a title three years ago. "It was what we needed to do at that time," Hawks general manager Billy Knight said. "Bringing Joe (Johnson) here to go with what we had and to help lead us for the future was absolutely what we had to get done. And he's been even more than we have asked for. He's the consummate pro, a guy who leads by example and a guy who shows up to work every single day, be it for practice or games. So we're obviously happy we made the deal, and having gone through everything that came with it does make it more rewarding now when you look back on it."--There was no playoff aura in the building Tuesday night, despite an announced sellout crowd of 18,738. But the Hawks feel like they've turned the corner by reaching their first postseason since 1999. "At first this year was the jersey change," Josh Smith said. "This is just a new start, a refreshment. In the second half of the season, we acquired Mike Bibby. It was big for this group. It helped us out a lot, gave us a veteran point guard that we were looking for. We took it from there. And it feels real good."
--The Hawks finish the regular season Wednesday night in Miami against the league's worst team. It's a game coach Mike Woodson said his team has to have. "I still want to win," he said. "You don't want to go into the playoff losing." The Hawks have lost two in a row.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "From a coaching standpoint, I don't know if I've ever coached a guy that special, because you can challenge him and it doesn't faze him one bit. That's something young guys don't always understand. They think if you challenge them you're stepping on their ego or messing with their game when all you're trying to do is help them. But Joe... he's been everything you can ever ask for in a player. Everything." -- Hawks coach Mike Woodson, on Joe Johnson.