Wizards-Hawks Preview

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

around.”

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

opener.

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

37.2 percent.

“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

title.

“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.