Atlanta Hawks

Zaza Pachulia knows "nothing easy," not even the English language

Before Zaza Pachulia got decimated by a Kevin Garnett pick during Boston’s Game 7 blowout, he was already a little loopy in the head. Following Atlanta’s home win in Game 6, Zaza did his best Ivan Drago impression for the crowd.

After getting pounded in Game 7, Pachulia was overhead saying, “He is not human, he is a piece of iron” about Garnett.


[]: Zaza Pachulia Englishes The Shit Out Of The Microphone

Atlanta Hawks

Around the Rim: Hawks fly high at home

1. Joe Johnson ignites late
It might sound impossible, but Atlanta has Boston’s number in the playoffs. After taking a 97-92 victory over the top-seeded Celtics, drawing the series to a 2-2 tie, the Hawks have now won five out of their previous six games against the Cs in the postseason. Joe Johnson posted 20 points in the fourth quarter for a game-high 35 points while Josh Smith played out of his mind with 28 points, six rebounds and seven blocks. Everyone and their momma figured this of all the series would end in a sweep, but after taking a 2-0 lead in Boston, the Celtics are winless on the road in the postseason. The Big Three combined for 59 points, but Boston could only muster 17 points in the final period when Johnson and the Hawks exploded for 32. Game 5 will be back in the friendly confines of Beantown on Wednesday.

2. Bust out the brooms

After busting their asses to make the postseason, the Nuggets’ hard work was for not following a four-game sweep at the hands of the Lakers. Denver didn’t roll over and die, but they died none the less, falling 107-101 in their own arena thanks to Kobe Bryant’s 31 points, including 14 in the final six minutes. Bryant’s playoff average this season is now up to 33.5 points per game after he was good for 28.3 during the regular season. LA is now waiting on the winner between Utah and Houston who play Game 5 tonight. Kenyon Martin and Carmelo Anthony both fouled out of the game in the final minutes, allowing Bryant to do his thing without Denver’s superstars on the court. J.R. Smith was the Nuggets high-scorer with 26 points while Allen Iverson and Anthony combined for 43 points. The Lakers look primed to make their first Western Conference finals since Shaq Daddy was in town behind the big efforts of Bryant, Lamar Odom (14 pts, 12 reb) and Pau Gasol (21 pts).

3. Orlando moves on
The kid did it again. For the third time in the series, Dwight Howard recorded at least 20 points and 20 rebounds by tallying 21 of each in Orlando’s 102-92 win at home over Toronto, advancing to the second round for the first time since in 12 years. The Magic dominated 4-1 behind Superman’s super play. Following postseason career-highs of 39 points and 15 rebounds in Game 4 Saturday, Chris Bosh finished with just 16 points and nine rebounds in the Raptors’ playoff finale. Orlando is now waiting on the winner between Philadelphia and Detroit, currently tied at 2-2 following a pair of disappointing performances from the Pistons. All five starters for Orlando and sixth man Keith Bogans finished in double-digit scoring, led by Howard’s game-highs and Jameer Nelson’s 19. Rashard Lewis was impressive as well, going off for a double-double of his own with 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Monday’s Player of the Day: Josh Smith vs. Boston 37 min, 28 pts (FG: 8-16, 3FG: 0-6, FT: 12-13), 6 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl, 7 blk

Buzzer Beater: After 24 seasons, 2,186 games, 1,381 victories and five championships, Pat Riley’s coaching career appears to finally be ka-put. The Hall of Famer is coming off the worst year of his career, winning just 15 games with the heatless Heat who has replaced Riley with the now-youngest coach in the league Erik Spoelstra. It was obvious Riles was on edge all year, so it’s not surprising he wants to end the suffering. However, he will maintain his position as president, overseeing Miami’s immediate future which could include the drafting of Michael Beasley if the ping-pong balls bounce right.

Ironically enough, on the same day Riley retires, a key contributor from his Laker days was named NBA coach of the year. Byron Scott led the Hornets to the West’s second best record (56-26) and their first postseason appearance in four years.

Atlanta Hawks

Around the Rim: Birds of a different feather

1. The Hawks are flying high
Portland is currently running away with the “Overachievers of the Year” award, but the Hawks are quietly still in the race. Joe Johnson poured in 26 points and handed out 11 assists to give Atlanta a 107-95 home victory over Indiana, but, perhaps even more importantly, it gave the Hawks their first five-game winning streak since 1999. Atlanta is now 15-12 on the year, good for the Eastern Conference’s fourth best record, giving the Hawks a legitimate chance of making the playoffs for the first time since 1998-99. In addition to Johnson’s offensive firepower, Josh Smith is having an awesome year, averaging 17.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.92 steals and 3.12 blocks per game. The Hawks can now sit back and somewhat enjoy the fruits of their labor; they don’t play again until Saturday when they travel to Dallas and after that, Atlanta is off until next Wednesday when they head to Cleveland for a contest against King James and the Cavs.

2. Boston looks mean in green

The Celtics headed West for the first time this year on Wednesday when they traveled to Sacramento for a contest against a struggling Kings team. The result for Boston was the same on the west coast as it was on the east coast, an easy victory. The Cs cruised to an 89-69 win behind 47 points from the big three and 13 from the trio’s sidekick Rajon Rondo. Boston is now 23-3, marking the fourth time in franchise history that the Celtics have started with a 23-3 record. Two of the previous three times it was done Boston went on to win the NBA title (1963-64 and 1961-62). After playing in only their 11th road game of the year, the Celtics continue their road test when they head to Seattle tonight, followed by back-to-back road games against the Jazz and Lakers on Saturday and Sunday.

3. Jazz build a lead, blow a lead and get a win
Utah managed to take a 16-0 lead against Dallas on Wednesday and then gave it all right back as they went into halftime up just a single point. Luckily, the Jazz finished like they started, outscoring the Mavs 52-44 in the second half and held on for a 99-90 victory at home. Dirk Nowitzki kept his squad in the game down the stretch, but Carlos Boozer came up big for the Jazz in the closing minutes, scoring six of the team’s final seven points, giving him 21 for the night. Deron Williams finished with 17 points and 12 assists to match Andrei Kirilenko’s offensive output. With the loss, Dallas falls to 6-8 on the road while Utah improves to 10-2 at home. The Jazz desperately needed the win after losing nine of their previous 11 games and falling behind Portland in the Northwest Division standings.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Chris Paul @ Memphis 36 min, 40 pts (FG: 17-25, 3FG: 5-8, FT: 1-1), 5 reb, 9 ast, 5 stl

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Cleveland (13-16) @ Dallas (19-10)
Dallas still hasn’t regained the form that earned them their top seed in the playoffs last season; at least not on the road. But inside the friendly confines of the American Airlines Center in Dallas, it’s a whole other story. The Mavs are 13-2 at home despite Dirk Nowitzki’s sub par performances of late. On the other side of the court, there is nothing sub par about LeBron James this year. James is averaging a league-best 29.3 points to go along with 7.2 rebounds and 7.7 assist per contest, but the King’s court has been extremely inconsistent. For the past six games Cleveland has alternated wins and losses, their most recent contest being a 96-82 Christmas day beating of the Heat. The up and down trend could continue tonight as Cleveland is a pathetic 5-10 away from home.

Buzzer Beater: Jason Kidd tallied 13 assists in a loss to Detroit on Wednesday, moving him into sixth place on the all-time list with 8,972 career dimes. Kidd passed the Glove who now sits at seventh with 8,966. 14 years into his career, the passing machine should be pretty close to the NBA’s greatest assist men in history, right? Wrong. Kidd is still 6,834 assists short of reaching John Stockton’s mark of 15,806. With a career-average of 9.2 assists per game, it will take Kidd about 743 more games to set a new milestone. In other words, Kidd needs another nine seasons at that pace to accomplish what Stockton did in his 19 years with Utah.

Atlanta Hawks

In today’s marijuana news…

We’ve got a trio of drug related news for you today folks. First up is Michael “Don’t Criticize Me” Vick. Vick has been cleared by Miami police of any wrongdoing because the super secret spy water bottle he tried to bring aboard a plane at Miami International did not contain any pot. Vick certainly dodged a bullet there but what kind of moron refuses to surrender a water bottle with NOTHING IN IT? Vick’s last contract was for $130M… the water bottle costs $20. That Michael Vick ain’t too smart.

Second up is yet another Bengals arrest. This time cornerback Johnathan Joseph was arrested for pot possession after a car in which he was the passenger was pulled over. Police smelled marijuana and searched a Super Bowl XL backpack and found the pot. Good thing that swag is going to good use. This marks the 4,397th arrest for the Bengals this year.

Finally, Mike Tyson has plead not guilty to drug charges even though he admitted to being an addict in an interview with police and was busted with cocaine. His lawyer said, “Drug addiction is a victimless crime. We believe this is the kind of crime where you shouldn’t go to prison.” So doesn’t this mean he’s guilty but wants a lighter sentence? Ahh the good ole justice system. He’ll get a slap on the wrist and some community service.

[Miami Herald]: There was no pot in Vick’s bottle, police confirm
[Cincinnati Enquirer]: Bengals’ Joseph arrested
[AZ Central]: Tyson pleads not guilty to drug charges