As they prepare to make their home debut, the Atlanta Hawks are
unbeaten with new coach Larry Drew. A matchup with the Washington
Wizards could help the Hawks add to that strong start.
Atlanta will try to improve to 3-0 under Drew by continuing its
recent dominance over the Wizards on Saturday night.
The Hawks (2-0) gave Drew his first NBA victory with a 119-104
win over Memphis on Wednesday, and they followed by holding off
Philadelphia for a 104-101 victory two nights later.
Josh Smith partially blocked a 3-point attempt as time expired
to help Atlanta avoid blowing a 15-point lead.
“My teammates allow me to be the energy guy and stay active,”
Smith said. “We do pretty well as a team when I’m out there flying
After missing 10 of 16 shots against the Grizzlies, Joe Johnson
made six of his 10 attempts Friday en route to a team-best 22
points. Al Horford added 20 points and 12 rebounds after hitting
just one field goal and grabbing seven boards in the season
Jamal Crawford had 19 points and might have a better game in
store against Washington (0-1), having averaged 26.3 points in the
last three meetings.
That’s helped the Hawks extend their win streak over the Wizards
to nine. Atlanta has also taken four in a row at home over its
Southeast Division rivals, who were routed 112-83 in their season
opener at Orlando on Thursday.
With eight new players making their team debut, Washington fell
behind by 14 points after the opening period and trailed by as much
as 35 in the final quarter.
One of those new players was No. 1 overall draft pick John Wall,
who missed 13 of 19 shots and finished with 14 points. Cartier
Martin had a team-high 17 off the bench for the Wizards, who shot
“It was tough,” Wall said. “It’s really telling me what I need
to work on, but I already know. But as a team aspect, we have a lot
we need to work on. We have to become a better team.”
One area where the Wizards could use improvement is their play
on the road. Washington is 17-66 there over the last two-plus
seasons and dropped 30 of 41 away from home in 2009-10.
The Hawks, meanwhile, are 65-17 at Philips Arena since the
beginning of the 2008-09 campaign and had the second-best home
record in the East last season at 34-7.
They’ll likely need a strong mark there this season as they’re
competing with Orlando and a star-laden Miami team for the division
“We’re OK with going under the radar in the East. Boston,
Orlando and Miami are talked about a lot and that’s fine with us,”
Horford told the league’s website. “We’re off to a strong start,
and we have confidence in the guys on this team. We know we’re
capable of being a very good team.”
The Hawks, who started 6-0 in 2008-09, set a franchise record by
winning their first 11 games in 1997-98.
The Wizards, meanwhile, have dropped their first five games in
two of the past three seasons.