Hawks coach Mike Woodson pulled the right strings this week. Before the team's trip to New York, Woodson spent practice time focusing on team defense, particularly improving communication on switches. The result was two wins, notably against Boston on Friday, their first win in the TD Garden in their past seven trips, including the 2008 playoff series.
The defense rose to the occasion both nights as the Hawks defeated New York 114-101 and Boston 97-86. The Celtics' 86 points tied for Boston's season low.
"I think the second half of the Knicks game was solid," Woodson said Saturday night before his team's game against New Orleans.
"That's what won the game. I thought the whole game [Friday] night from a defensive standpoint [was solid].
"Our switches were great. Even when [Boston] had mismatches, it didn't hurt us. And then we rebounded the ball well."
The Celtics, the league's top-shooting team in the NBA after Friday's games, shot a healthy 49.3 percent from the field. The Hawks won Friday on the boards, outrebounding the Celtics 49-27.
Boston had only six offensive rebounds, limiting extra chances.
Woodson said that his goal is to hold teams to 43 or 44 percent from the field. In researching the numbers, Woodson said that "99.9 percent" of teams hitting that mark have made the playoffs. The Hawks' defensive field-goal percentage going into Saturday was 46.4 percent, 19th in the league.
Under Woodson, the team's percentage has gone from 47.6 percent in his first season to 45.4 percent last season.
Another statistic that he looks at is point differential, which going into Saturday was 6.3 points per game, fifth in the league.
Woodson wanted to see the team reach 10 points, which entering Saturday's game would have put them second in the NBA.
After playing six of their first nine games on the road, the Hawks will even it up with a four-game homestand that began Saturday night.
It's the second-longest homestand of the season.
It has been a steady climb for Louis Williams, the Philadelphia guard who jumped to the NBA from South Gwinnett High in 2005. Williams has taken over at the point for the 76ers for the departed Andre Miller.
Through eight games, Williams was averaging 14.4 points, 5.1 assists and only 1.3 turnovers per game for the 76ers.
Pretty good work for a player picked 45th overall in 2005 who played in only 30 games as a rookie and hadn't started a game until this season.
Douglas getting hot
The struggles of New York point guard Chris Duhon have opened the door for rookie Toney Douglas from Jonesboro High.
Douglas played only 14 minutes in the Knicks' first four games, but has steadily picked up points and minutes since.
He scored 21 against Utah on Monday and, in his first career start, gathered 23 against the Hawks on 10-of-19 shooting Wednesday.
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