--After two days of speculation, Hawks coach Mike Woodson made a point to clear the air about exactly why Josh Smith came home from this week's road trip two days early."Josh was not sent back here by me or anyone else," Woodson said before Friday's game against Miami at Philips Arena. "He came home for personal reasons, nothing more and nothing less. And it would be really nice if people would respect his privacy in this matter."
Smith was ejected in the fourth quarter of the Hawks' loss to Utah Monday and left for Atlanta the next morning. The NBA did not suspend him for the flagrant-2 foul on Matt Harpring that got him ejected. And Woodson insisted that the Hawks did not punish him either.
"As bad as I needed him (in Denver Wednesday)," Woodson said. "Listen, it happens man. Guys have things that happen that they have to tend. The timing probably seemed a bit strange to some people. But there was nothing more to it than that. That said, I'm not going to let my guy get knocked around for something that didn't happen. And no one suspended Josh Smith for anything."
--If the playoffs started today the Hawks and Heat would meet in the first round.
It would be a No. 4 against No. 5 matchup, with the Hawks holding the slight edge for the home court advantage throughout.
With seven weeks to play in the regular season, it's a little early to start making reservations for both teams.
But the significance of not only Friday's game but also the April 14 matchup here, wasn't lost on the Hawks.
"Any time you play a team you know you might see down the road you take some notes," Marvin Williams said. "They're also in our division, that puts a little sauce on it, too. We're two teams in a similar position in terns of where we're trying to go. And you're always competing."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Two weeks is a long time. I don't care what you do, two weeks is a long time to be away from home." -- Hawks center Zaza Pachulia, on being home for the first time in two weeks.