Josh Smith, The Hawks Fly Past Charlotte; Denver Blows Out Phoenix

12.23.11 7 years ago 58 Comments
This might be the year Josh Smith finally makes the All-Star Game. We don’t want to jinx him – everyone knows the type of luck he has when it comes to this – but his game has matured, he has his body in the best shape it’s ever been in and the Hawks figure to be, at worst, a No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Last night in Atlanta’s 92-75 drubbing of Charlotte to end the preseason, Smith had 21 points and six rebounds, hitting 10 of 15 shots in the game. The coaching staff spoke on energy afterwards, and when you win the points in the paint battle 46-34, it typically means guys are working hard … For Charlotte, Corey Maggette was his usual foul-drawing self offensively (he somehow drew 10 free-throw attempts in 26 minutes), especially early on when he scored 13 of his 18 in the first quarter. But miraculously it was his defense that took center stage. In the third quarter, he took two big charges, which is like Monta Ellis passing up a shot. On another Charlotte defensive possession, Bismack Biyombo met Keith Benson at the rim on a play in the fourth quarter and sent him back to his corner, easily blocking Benson’s dunk attempt. We didn’t see it in real time, but we hope the announcers yelled out “BISMACK BIYOOOMBO!” We’re doing that all season long, whenever the dude does anything. That is easily the best name in the NBA … One of the guys in the league with a legitimate shot to breakout this year, Danilo Gallinari dropped 23 points in Denver’s 110-85 destruction of Phoenix. In the second half, he had one move on the fast break that was just butter: as a trailer, he caught a return pass, did a little half-step Euro step, brought the ball down and then flipped it around a defender’s shoulders with his left hand. From there at the start of the fourth quarter, the Nuggets ended it with a 16-3 run. Corey Brewer, the guy Dallas would’ve given away for a roll of Twizzlers if they needed to, dropped 20 … Off the court yesterday, the Suns bought out Mickael Pietrus, who hadn’t worked out at all with them in his time in the desert … Meanwhile, the Clippers picked up Reggie Evans. He might not really fit with this team, but he doesn’t have to. Give six solid fouls and it’s worth it. He can rebound a little too if you haven’t heard … The Nets can kiss Dwight Howard goodbye for a bit: Brook Lopez has a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone in his foot and will have surgery on it Friday. Too bad. What comes out of this? Orlando isn’t dealing with New Jersey until it’s proven that Lopez comes back fresh and 100 percent. So trade discussions may not happen until next summer. Also in related news, the Nets are now even worse. That frontline is going to look like a jayvee basketball team, and that’s even with Mehmet Okur. The former Utah star was picked up by New Jersey yesterday in a trade for a second round pick. Amazing how far he’s fallen … And who wants to play in the best fantasy tournament we’ve seen? Our friends at Lakers Nation are hooking it up … Keep reading to hear what Doc Rivers is promising Jeff Green …

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