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News » Hawks face early test vs. Lakers

Hawks face early test vs. Lakers

Hawks face early test vs. LakersHaving been here before, winning their first two games of the season for the second consecutive year, the Hawks are aware of how easy it is to become smitten with your own performance.

They ran off six straight wins last year before tasting defeat, and would have made it seven if not for a Paul Pierce buzzer-beater in Boston.

But the upcoming schedule, and their recent history against the league's elite, has them grounded in the reality that the slightest misstep against the Los Angeles Lakers today at Staples Center could prove disastrous.

In each of their past five matchups against a top-tier team, the Hawks have been humbled mightily. Cleveland swept them out of the Eastern Conference semifinals last year 4-0, and the preseason finale two weeks ago in Orlando was a lopsided affair from start to finish.

"I'd like to tell you that we've learned our lesson about getting too high on the hog after a little success," Hawks captain Joe Johnson said. "But the proof is going to be in what we do out there [on the court]. We haven't handled ourselves very well in this situation before, so it's really up to us to make sure we remember that feeling we had after those games."

The defending champion Lakers are far from immune to the humbling nature of the NBA season. They were trounced 94-80 at home Friday night by a Dallas Mavericks team that was whipped by the Washington Wizards at home Tuesday night. The Hawks dominated those same Wizards at home Friday night, completing the merry go-round of reality checks for all involved.

"Everybody starts out thinking they're going to run off 10 or 20 straight until they get popped," said Hawks forward Josh Smith, who is averaging 19.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 2.5 steals and 2.5 blocks through the first two games. "I was confident last year when we started 6-0. I didn't think we were going to lose. But once you get hit in the mouth you sort of shake the silly off and get down to business. We learned that the hard way last year with the way we lost that game in Boston and how we had to fight back after that."

The road doesn't get any easier for the Hawks after the Lakers game; they head to Portland on Tuesday to continue a stretch that will see them play nine of their next 15 games on the road. Twelve of those 15 games will be against teams that made the playoffs last season.

"No one said it was going to be easy," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "It never is. These guys understand that. Nobody is going to give us a thing. That's why you prepare for what's ahead and do what you can to snatch some momentum on the road."

Next for Hawks

Who: at Lakers

When: 9:30 p.m. today

TV; radio: FSSO; 790

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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: November 2, 2009


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