Archives For Dwight Howard

The Atlanta Hawks rolled to their fifth consecutive victory following their 109-97 triumph over the Houston Rockets. Michael Beasley — yes, Michael Beasley of all people — led all scorers with 30 points off of the Houston bench on the second night of their back-to-back sled. The Hawks, meanwhile, were led by Al Horford’s 22 points (on 10-of-19 shooting) and nine rebounds.

A five game winning streak can only mean one thing…

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That’s right, for the first time since the very early stages of this season, the HaWWWWWks are back.

Dwight Howard and “Sticky-gate”

OK, OK. In all seriousness, this is the thing that people are actually talking about — and I guess this is what we’re calling it?

Continue Reading…

The Atlanta Hawks may not be seen as one of the most physically intimidating teams in the league, but their mental toughness makes up for that and then some.

In December, Atlanta battled back to win 121-115 against the Houston Rockets after overcoming a 17-point deficit at halftime. Today, the Hawks fought through a dismal second quarter of nine turnover and Mike Beasley’s best game off the bench since returning to the league (30 points); but once again, that showed the true make up of this team.

“I feel like we are a much better team right now than we were before, said Al Horford, who finished with 22 points and nine rebounds. “We are much more focused, our defense is really good and we are starting to put it together on the offensive end.” Continue Reading…

With how good the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, and San Antonio Spurs often are, it is hard for road teams from the East to come into Texas and expect any success. The Hawks are not an exception to that, but Atlanta grinded out a rare victory in the Lone Star state, beating the Rockets 104-97. The Hawks now sit at 19-7 and have now won 14 of their last 16 games.

Atlanta managed to pull it out in the end thanks to some nice passing and solid execution. It also helped that Jason Terry completely forgot to cover Kyle Korver during one of the game’s most crucial moments.

While the game started off close, it wasn’t like that until midway through the third quarter. The Hawks had a decently-sized lead through most of the first half thanks to crisp ball movement getting them a lot of open looks. For the majority of the game, the best the Rockets could do was go on a small run occasionally, but the Hawks would withstand it and get right back to business and build up their lead once more. That was until the Rockets adjusted.

During halftime, the Rockets made some tweaks that managed to get them back into the game, tying the game up by the end of the quarter. Part of it was the Hawks just not hitting shots, but the Rockets rotations were much more organized in the second half; when the Hawks started to move the ball, the Rockets were right there to contest the shot. Continue Reading…


HOU.gif(23-14) 83 – 80 (20-17)ATL

Key Performers:
K. Korver (ATL): 20 pts, 5 reb, 2 ast, 3 stl
J. Harden (HOU): 25 pts, 7 reb, 7 ast

The Rockets jumped out to an 11-0 lead in the first quarter, but Mike Scott responded with eight first quarter points to keep the Hawks within a reasonable distance. The Hawks then won the next two quarters 55-42 to take a 65-60 lead into the fourth quarter. In the fourth, the Hawks used a DeMarre Carroll three-pointer to take a 79-78 advantage that they would not relinquish as four free throws from Kyle Korver iced the game in favor of the Hawks. The win gives the Hawks 20 on the season as they improved to 14-5 in Philips Arena.

Reaction grades [assessed 0-10]:

Paul Millsap: After four very rough games for Millsap, he was able to respond against Houston. His jumper was still a little off, but he did get a couple of three-pointers to fall. His four offensive rebounds were very important, as that was one of the keys that pushed the Hawks to victory despite a 37.2% shooting night from team. 7/10

DeMarre Carroll: DeMarre’s night kind of reminded me of Pero’s game against Charlotte. He was doing the little things throughout the game, but he could not hit a shot to save his life. Finally, with the Hawks trailing 78-76, he got a three to fall. 6/10

Pero Antic: Not a very good night for Pero, who finish with four points on eight shots. On defense, he wasn’t doing completely terrible, but Dwight was simply too physical for Pero on some possessions. The result was Pero getting into foul trouble and a minutes increase for Elton Brand. 4/10

Jeff Teague: Teague was outplayed by both Lou-Will and Shelvin tonight. Dwight Howard’s defense probably gave Jeff the most difficulties of any ATL player, as Jeff just couldn’t do what he wanted in the lane. Outside of the lane, Jeff was consistently short on his jumper, which is very reminiscent of how he was shooting the ball at the beginning of the season. 4/10

Kyle Korver: Kyle Korver has been the team’s top performer in consecutive wins against Indiana and Houston. Korver was 6-for-11 from the field and his three three-pointers in the third quarter were huge for the Hawks being able to take the lead. Korver also played very strong defense in the second half, as his digs and activity caused problems for Houston’s big and their guards. 9/10 Continue Reading…


HOU(11-5) 113 – 84 (8-8) ATL    

Key Performers:
A. Brooks (HOU): 21 pts, 2 reb, 4 ast, 2 stl
A. Horford (ATL): 14 pts, 8 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl, 2 blk

The Rockets were without James Harden, and then Jeremy Lin after he left the game in the first quarter due to injury. Didn’t matter, as the Rockets routed the Hawks with a barrage of three-pointers. Aaron Brook and Francisco Garcia each scored 21 off of the bench, and Houston scored 36 points in the fourth quarter to close the game out. The Hawks may have been without Kyle Korver, Lou Williams, and Shelvin Mack, but losing by 29 to a Rockets team that was playing without Harden and Lin isn’t an ideal result. I guess this does help show how important Korver’s spacing is to this team. The Hawks have now lost three straight games.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Al Horford: Al did his best on Dwight Howard, and the Rockets big man only had 11 points and eight rebounds. However, Horford didn’t do too much on the offensive end, scoring 14 points on 14 shots, many of which were wide open jumpers that he needs to be hitting at a better clip. 7/10

Jeff Teague: Not a good night for Teague. He was killed defensively, and his offense just wasn’t there. He was 0-for-5 from the field in the first quarter, and he didn’t take a shot after that point. He did have six assists and probably should have had a few more, but he definitely wasn’t able to attack the rim as effectively with Howard and Asik manning the paint for the Rockets. 5/10

Paul Millsap: Millsap was battling foul trouble for some of the night, but when he was in, he was doing his best to take advantage of Terrence Jones and Omri Casspi. Millsap had 16 points on just 10 shots and he was dominating on the block. He did have a few head-scratching turnovers in this game, but he was definitely the most effect Hawk on offense. 6.5/10

DeMarre Carroll: 2-for-8 from the field is not what you want from DeMarre. The Hawks have weirdly been running pick-and-rolls for DeMarre lately, and it’s effective sometimes… but a lot of times it is ending up with DeMarre taking weird looking floaters in the lane, which is really a shot I only want Jeff Teague or Lou Williams to take. 4/10

Cartier Martin: Starting in Kyle’s place, Cartier was actually effective in being the team’s go-to three-point shooter. Cartier scored 14 points, including 4-for-7 from behind the arc. Defensively, he was… you know what, everyone was awful defensively. Just assume that for each following player unless I note otherwise. 7/10 Continue Reading…

2012-13 Record: 45-37 (8th in West)z-rockets

Playoff Result: Lost in First Round

Key Additions: Reggie Williams (free agent), Omri Casspi (free agent)) – oh and that Dwight Howard guy.

Key Losses: Carlos Delfino (free agent), Thomas Robinson (trade)

Projected 2013-14 Record: 52-30 (5th in West)*

What to Expect: Here’s the thing with Houston. Last year they were exceptional on offense with a very efficiency-driven approach. That meant a lot of threes and a lot of free throws. The flip side was that they were “meh” defensively with the team relying on Omer Asik in his first year as a starter and defensive anchor and Carlos Delfino who was 31. What changed? Well, they got Dwight freakin’ Howard.

Now immediately you think Dwight Howard, top echelon center, on top of this young and prolific core of James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Patrick Beverley/Jeremy Lin means a cemented spot among the top teams in the Western Conference.

Yes, and no.

The Rockets’ biggest issue was their defense, and nabbing Howard to take Asik’s spot wasn’t a huge upgrade. Howard is obviously better at that end, but questions remain about his health with the back problem that seemingly has been bothersome for over a year. Not to mention that Houston really has little help defensively for Dwight, losing Delfino and quite possibly starting Lin over the defensive spark-plug Beverley this year. One could say starting Asik with Howard would alleviate these concerns, and that’s true, but they’d just bring up spacing ones on the other end. Obviously, Howard is a major upgrade over Asik in terms of offense. Continue Reading…

So, there’s two free agents off the board.

Andre Iguodala signed with the Warriors today after Golden State was able to dump the salaries of Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson to Utah. The deal is for four years, $48 million.

USA Today’s Sam Amick has reported that Dwight Howard will sign with the Houston Rockets. Current details of a contract are unknown.

What does this mean for the Hawks? Well, their likely plan-B is off the table; the Hawks had been rumored to be in heavy pursuit of Iggy if they missed out on Howard and CP3. (which they now have) Free agents Al Jefferson, Tyreke Evans, JJ Redick, Tony Allen, and David West are also off the board now.

So, who’s left? Of course, the Hawks still have their own free agents to look at in Josh Smith, Devin Harris, Jeff Teague, and Zaza Pachulia, with Smoove likely being the best available of all options at this point. (even if Dwight hasn’t picked a team yet, he’s most likely not picking Atlanta) Nikola Pekovic is still out there, but I expect Minnesota to match any offer he gets, even if it does put them in the luxury tax.

Of course, a sign-and-trade with Houston to send Josh Smith to play with his best friend, Dwight, is still in play. In such a trade, the Hawks would likely get center Omer Asik and might have to take on Jeremy Lin.

Paul Millsap may now be one of the more intriguing options for the Hawks. Yes, Horford would still have to play center if Millsap was signed, but Millsap can rebound well and space the floor. His defense isn’t ideal, but it could work.

Andrei Kirilenko is also a feasible option right now, as is Corey Brewer. Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry, who are now likely to sign elsewhere because of Golden State’s new situation, could also be a fit with Mike Budenholzer’s vision of this team.

Players I would avoid like the plague: Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, and JJ Hickson. To be fair, Jennings and Ellis are players that could work in the right system, but I’m not a fan of their play styles. Hickson is a trainwreck; don’t even look into it, Danny.

Of course, with Chris Paul likely off the table and Dwight Howard expected to sign elsewhere, eyes turn to Atlanta’s own free agent in Josh Smith.

On Sunday, Josh met with the Detroit Pistons, who apparently made a rather intriguing offer.

Detroit would be a rather strange fit with Smoove. Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe are good players, but both work best when they are closer to the basket, meaning that Josh would again find himself out on the perimeter. Of course, after Detroit’s last free agency debacle (Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva), they are definitely looking to sign a guy that’s actually good this time around. Even with as much criticism as Smoove takes, he’s still a good player.

Reports say that Smith returning to Atlanta isn’t out of the question. According to Yahoo!’s Marc Spears, Smith is very respectful of Mike Budenholzer’s tenure under Gregg Popovich and would still be very open about returning to his hometown team. With CP3 and Dwight likely out of the equation, the Hawks are going to have to offer money to someone and all indications are that Smoove may be that someone.

ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported that Lakers center Dwight Howard and Clippers guard Chris Paul have been in contact about playing for the same team next season.

Obviously this is interesting for the Hawks, as they are one of the few teams that could work their cap number down low enough to sign both Paul and Howard. Any other team in the league (Dallas, Houston) would have to make significant moves involving trades to get to that number. The Hawks, however, are the only team in the league that can get to that number through the simple renouncement of all it’s free agents; they only have Al Horford ($12 million), Lou Williams ($5.25 million), John Jenkins ($1.25 million), and their two first round draft picks (about $1.3 million a piece) as committed salaries for next season.

To be perfectly clear, this scenario is still highly unlikely. Even if Dwight and Paul want to play together, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be next season. Sources indicated that CP3 would much rather stay in Los Angeles, and that Howard still shows hesitation towards playing for his hometown team. Nevertheless, it is a fun hypothetical to think about between now and the start of the free agency period.

The Atlanta Hawks have their new head coach in Mike Budenholzer, bringing them a step closer to completing what’s sure to be a drawn-out and tough rebuilding process this summer. Budenholzer spent 16 years as an assistant coach under esteemed, transcendent head coach Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, and has often been dubbed his successor. One thing to keep in mind is that this will be Budenhozler’s first take as a head coach in the NBA, and after reading Jared Dubin’s research into tenured and first-time coaches hired in the past 17 seasons, it’s this aspect I want to focus on when talking about the hiring.

In Dubin’s Grantland post, he combs out the average winning percentages of hired coaches that are either of previous experience or are rookies in three categories:


Notice the edge first-time head coaches have in winning percentage over their entire tenure. Dubin provided great insight with these statistics, and I’d like to add on with some theories as to why freshman head coaches bode so well down the line with their teams. Continue Reading…