In The Scrum With Alonzo Gee

After hitting the first game winner of his NBA career to snap a 6-game Atlanta Hawks win streak, Cleveland Cavaliers foward Alonzo Gee took a moment to reflect on his highlight-reel worthy lay in.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Hawks Win Five Straight

Entering the season, the Atlanta Hawks (8-4) had plenty of questions to answer with a number of new pieces and a tough schedule right from the jump. Twelve games into the new year, the Hawks seem to have found their stride.

Some might be surprised by Atlanta’s recent success, but Hawks forward Josh Smith said the hot start doesn’t come as a surprise.

“Like I said, when we find our stride we are going to be a pretty good team,” Smith said. “We are starting to gel and everybody’s starting to figure out. We look pretty good.”

Atlanta is currently riding a five game winning streak and have won six of their last seven outings. The Hawks have been moving the ball well and have the fifth highest assist total in the league (22.9 assists per game).

Much of the early success can be attributed to Hawks point guard Jeff Teague. Teague is averaging 13.8 points and 7.3 assists per game, and he finished the last two games with double-doubles. Against Charlotte Bobcats he finished with 13 points and 12 assists, and against the Los Angeles Clippers Saturday night Teague went for 19 points and 12 assists.

Another factor that has helped the Hawks run off five straight is a balance of contributors. Atlanta currently has five players averaging 11 or more points per game.

Kyle Korver is just one of the Hawks who has helped to provide a bit of an offensive boost over the past couple of weeks. He netted season highs of 22 points and seven rebounds against the Sacramento Kings to get the Hawks winning streak going. Korver also lit up the Washington Wizards for 16 Wednesday nigh, including a game-winning three pointer that prevented the Wizards from earning their first win of the season.

Louis Williams has served as one of the most potent scorers any NBA bench has had to offer over the past few years while playing with the Philadelphia 76ers. Williams is reprising that role in his first season as an Atlanta Hawk. He is averaging 13.3 points and 3.4 assists per game. Against the Clippers, Williams scored 18 points—14 during the 2nd and 3rd quarters, a period in which the Hawks outscored the Clippers 64-36.

“I was just playing aggressive,” Williams said after Saturday night’s win. “That’s what I bring to the table, just to be aggressive and try to create as many plays as I can.”

The Hawks will look to extend the winning streak to six as the take on the Cleveland Cavaliers Friday November 30 in Atlanta.

 

 

Josh Smith Not Fazed By His Critics

Atlanta Hawks fans would probably be more at ease watching Jeff Teague jump off a 20-foot ladder into a shallow pool of water than watching Josh Smith catch a pass anywhere outside of 12 feet from the rim. Considering Smith only knocked down 28-of-109 3-point attempts (25.7 percent) last season, there is a reason to be concerned.

Frequenters of Philips Arena have not forgot either. In the Hawks home opener—a 109-102 loss to the Houston Rockets—Smith was met with a chorus of gasps when he got the ball on the 3-point line with literally no one near him.

Boos followed, as Smith was unable to knock down the wide-open shot.

Still, Smith seems unfazed by the naysayers and focused on making his jump shot better. This year, he will benefit from having a new set of accomplished shooting coaches — his teammates.

Smith has already spent time working with Kyle Korver, the man who holds the record for highest single season 3-point percentage in NBA history. Korver said he thinks, with a little direction and practice, Smith might be able to silence some of his critics.

“I think Josh has the ability to be a great shooter,” Korver said. “I’m just working with him on some small things.”

Korver said he is impressed by how fast Smith is picking his tips up.

“He is a quick learner,” he said. “You don’t ever want to do a total overhaul of a guy’s shot right before the season starts, but I think there are some things that he can focus on that will help out quite a bit.”

Continuing to launch up shots, is definitely not what most would recommend for Smith given his explosiveness and ability to score around the rim, but Korver said staying the course is just one of the ingredients to being a good shooter.

“He has the mentality of ‘I don’t care if I missed the last ten, I’m going to throw up the next one,’” said Korver. “That’s what good shooters have. You can knock that, or you can praise that. The bottom line is, he has the ability to be a very good shooter.”

Although Hawks head coach Larry Drew has criticized Smith’s shot selection in the past, he seems very confident in the abilities of the versatile big man.

“The beauty about Josh is Josh knows every position on the floor,” Drew said in an interview before the season. “I can play him at three and also at times I can move him to some two. We can use him in different ways in what we do.”

It may take a while for Smith to gain the trust of the Atlanta Hawks fans, but with a visibly improved shot stroke and the right mentality, he might be on his way.