The Atlanta Hawks showcased nine players in double-digits, collectively netting 42 second quarter points en route to claiming victory over the Toronto Raptors 146-115 Wednesday night at Philips Arena. Al Horford led the Hawks in scoring with 24 points, followed by Josh Smith and Jamal Crawford collecting 16 apiece. Joe Johnson produced 12 points while dishing out 11 assists.
“I think it had something to do with their back-to-back games,” said Crawford. “We jumped out early and didn’t look back the whole game.” Atlanta shot 60.5 percent from the floor in the first half, racking up 75 points before heading into the locker room.
The 7-13 Raptors have now lost five straight on the road. Chris Bosh (averages 25 points per game) when asked what went wrong chose to criticize his team on the defensive end, instead of re-assessing his own dismal two-point performance in 16 minutes played. “We didn’t magically appear last on the charts defensively,” said Bosh. “The team’s defensive effort hasn’t been there for a while. I mean, tonight was just a total embarrassment.” The Raptors will have a chance to redeem themselves on Friday against the Washington Wizards as the Hawks move on to face the New York Knicks.
Dwight Howard earned yet another double-double with 22 points and 17 rebounds, leading his Orlando Magic past the Atlanta Hawks 93-76 last night at Philips Arena. The Hawks were coasting until the third quarter when Orlando proceeded to double their point total for the block with 28. From there the Magic continued on, dominating with 26 more fourth quarter points to their 11.
“I came out in the second half and just trusted my teammates,” said Howard. “They made some open shots and I tried to dominate the paint. It doesn’t matter if we’re down 20, we’re going to continue to fight.”
The Magic just barely stand alone on top of the Eastern Conference with a 12-4 regular season record. Atlanta along with the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers fall right behind at 11-4. Despite the recent disappointing loss, the Hawks have seemed to improve year by year with their core group of guys still intact led by Joe Johnson, Mike Bibby and Jamal Crawford. In 2008 they finished 37-45 and took the Celtics to seven games in the opening round. Last season they advanced to the Semifinals and were swept by Cleveland.
After another year of playoff experience, this now veteran squad will look to play spoiler against the big market teams in the playoffs. They have definitely entered their way into the discussion in regards to who will come out on top of the East.
It took overtime to conclude last night’s contest between the Boston Bruins and Atlanta Thrashers at Phillips Arena, ending with a Patrice Bergeron goal for the only score of the shootout to give his Bruins the 4-3 win. Marco Sturm found the net to start six minutes into the first period, followed by a Michael Ryder goal to give Boston the early advantage heading into the second.
The Thrashers answered back to tie it up before Ryder came through again for the B’s on a power play. Maxim Afinogenov scrambled for Atlanta’s desperation goal with 40 seconds left in regulation, setting the stage for Bergeron to finish the battle in dramatic fashion.
Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask came up with 35 saves and completely shut down the Thrashers in OT when it counted. “We have lost several games in shootouts,” said Rask. “We wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again.” Bruins will now make their way to Buffalo to matchup with the Sabres tonight at 7:30 PM. Regular season Boston Bruins tickets are available now!
Joe Johnson scored eight of his game-high 35 points in overtime as his Atlanta Hawks went on to outlast the Portland Trail Blazers 99-95 last night at Philips Arena. The Hawks have started off the year red hot with regular season record of 9-2. The team believes themselves to be definite contenders in the East for 2010.
“The last two years being in the playoffs has put this team in a totally different light,” said coach Mike Woodson. “Now when they go on the court, they know they have a chance to win. It’s kind of nice sitting on the top of the division.” Josh Smith collected 20 points and 16 rebounds to help Atlanta earn their fifth consecutive victory, a streak that includes a tough road win in Boston against the Celtics.
The Trail Blazers have also improved immensely over the years. So far this season they hold an 8-4 record with young talent LaMarcus Aldridge, Andre Miller, and Greg Oden leading the way. Aldridge notched 18 yesterday with Miller and Oden following up with 14 and 11, respectively. Portland is set to host the Detroit Pistons Wednesday as the Hawks take on the Miami Heat in Atlanta.
Quarterback Michael Vick has just recently signed a two-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. The contract states that the first year of the deal is for $1.6 million with an option heading into the second year for $5.2 million. Before convicted in August of 2007, Vick at one point was the highest paid player in the NFL. After serving time in jail, his suspension was rightfully lifted by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Eagles head coach Andy Reid is looking forward to having Vick join training camp. He and starting quarterback Donovan McNabb assure that there will be no QB controversy. “I pretty much lobbied to get him here,” McNabb said. “I believe in second chances and what better place to get a second chance than here with this group of guys. He’s no threat to me, not for Kolb. We had the opportunity to add another weapon to our offense.” The Eagles will travel to Atlanta against Vick’s former team (Falcons) on Sunday, December 6th.
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The Atlanta Falcons have released suspended quarterback Michael Vick. While NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has not reinstated Vick, any team could sign him. Goodell is scheduled to meet with Vick on July 20th to discuss the possibility of a return. Convicted of running a violent dogfighting ring, Vick is currently serving the end of his 23-month sentence under home confinement. With rookie quarterback Matt Ryan leading the Falcons to the playoffs last season, Vick’s time with the Falcons is over. Owner Arthur Blank has pledged to help the maligned quarterback to get back on track.
Though the Seahawks and Colts have made it clear that they have no interest in Vick, many NFL teams have vacancies at starting or backup quarterback.
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The Atlanta Hawks seemed to be in control when the 4th Quarter started last night. Kevin Garnett had other plans. KG was only 2-10 shooting from the floor in the first three quarters, but exploded with a dominant 5-5 fourth. In a low-scoring, high-defense game, the C’s managed to drop 29 on the Hawks in the final quarter to seal a 88-85 win. Many sports writers had this game picked out as the most possible streak-ender for the C’s – The Hawks held Boston winless in Atlanta last year in the playoffs.
The win puts the Celtics in a great position to make a run for not only the longest NBA winning streak, but also the best record in NBA history.
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Wednesday night was not so lucky for the Atlanta Braves. Former .400 average hopeful Chipper Jones strained his left hamstring trying to run out a grounder in the 4th inning. Just two innings later, Tim Hudson left with right elbow tightness after 6 shutout innings. Hudson has tossed only 68 total pitches. Hudson said the large number of splitters he threw may have led to the tightness.
“I don’t foresee it being that big of a deal,” Hudson said. “It doesn’t feel too bad. It just feels like tight muscles.”
Jones will miss a few games, but will most likely not be going on the DL. The Braves will miss Chipper’s offensive production as they open up a series against the NL East co-leading Philadelphia Phillies.
Recap – The Atlanta Thrashers have been playing mediocre hockey all year long. They have not been good, not been bad, not been exciting, and not been disappointing. How can that happen? Well, they do play in Atlanta and hockey is definitely not the number one prioritized sport down in Georgia Bulldog country. One thing that may stir some excitement for the team is Atlanta is the site of the 2008 NHL All-Star Weekend, playing host to the game on January 27, 2008. Two Thrashers wingmen, Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa, will be joining the festivities and partake in the All-Star game as members of the Eastern Conference team.
2nd Half – Without the fans behind you, it is always very tough to win. The Thrashers do not have the support they need and will just continue to float around the .500 win percentage mark all season long. That may be good enough to squeak into the last playoff spot, but do not count on it.
Team Name: Atlanta Thrashers (23-25-3)
Southeast Division Standing: 2nd place
Conference Standing: T-9th place
Final Predictions: 2nd in Southeast Division, 10th in Eastern Conference
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