Wednesday , Feb , 28 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Hawks fail to hang with the big boys

(Sports Network) – The only saving grace for the Hawks’ recent string of
games was that they came into them well rested after the All-Star break.
Otherwise, it could have been a lot worse.

Atlanta recently wrapped a string of five games over seven days against teams
all in the top five of their respective conference, including the top three
clubs out of the West.

Not surprising, the club finished the stretch just 1-4.

The trek begin after the break in Chicago, the fifth overall team in the East
as of Wednesday, with a 106-81 defeat. All-Star Joe Johnson apparently left
his offense in Las Vegas, as he netted just nine points on 2-of-12 from the
floor.

Johnson would rebound though over the next four contests and averaged 29.5
points per game the rest of the way, including 30 points one day after the
Chicago game in a 103-96 loss to the Spurs last Wednesday.

Atlanta grabbed its lone win in the tough span on Friday against Houston,
currently fifth overall in the West, as Johnson netted 31 points with seven
assists.

That win came one day after the league’s trade deadline that saw the Hawks
acquire guard Anthony Johnson from the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for a
second-round pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.

Johnson played for Atlanta from 1998-2000 and again during the 2000-01
campaign, and has averaged 3.6 points with 1.8 assists in 112 games for the
franchise.

“We’re happy to be able to bring Anthony Johnson back to Atlanta,” said Hawks
general manager Billy Knight in a release announcing the deal. “He provides us
with another veteran presence, and brings a great deal of regular season and
postseason experience to our club.”

Johnson made his debut on Sunday against the West’s second overall team and
Pacific Division leaders, the Phoenix Suns. The acquisition of Johnson
immediately paid off as he netted 17 points and tied a career high with three
three-pointers.

However, the Suns emerged as 115-106 winners.

As bad as things had been for the Hawks, they were yet to face the hardest
challenge of their stretch, a road game against the NBA-leading Dallas
Mavericks. The Hawks were unable to threaten and Dallas cruised to a 110-87
victory.

The brutal stretch effectively put an end to any playoff hopes for Atlanta.
The club is now tied with Charlotte for last place in the Southeast standings
and are a distant 5 1/2 games out of a playoff spot.

ATL