By DeMarco Williams
November 2, 2007
-Earlier in the day, I got an email from the Hawks expressing that tonight’s season opener was a sellout. In places like Phoenix or Cleveland that’s not a big deal, but ‘round these parts that’s huge news. Still, 15 minutes before the start, there are plenty of empties. Atlanta’s a notoriously-late city though.
-The press row has been moved high above the club seating at Philips. Lang, remember when we were down on the floor, damn near courtside? Those were the good ole days.
-During shoot-around, Dirk Notwitzki scurries to the locker room at least three times. Either he’s got a bladder problem or something needs constant addressing from the trainer.
-The place gets really crowded (and very loud) right before tip.
-Dallas, of course, is introduced first -Wait, Juwan Howard is a Mav?!- in that usually bland style you’d expect for the visiting team. When the Hawks are announced, the lights dim and a band comes out to stir the crowd into a frenzy. But what’s kinda hot is how, when the players are announced, they come down from different aisles of the arena, right in the thick of the fans. I’d never seen that in a professional setting. Nice touch.
-As for the game, the first quarter is a really well-played one for the Hawks. Al Horford looks great. Joe Johnson continues his “Least-appreciated Star in the Galaxy” campaign. Josh Smith is sensational on the glass. Josh Childress still looks clueless way too often.
-Intensity continues to the half. 46-39, Hawks. But fans in Philips Arena know not to get all excited just yet. We’ve seen this movie a million times. The home team starts out great but falls flat on its beak in the second half.
-Don’t remember if it was the second or third quarter, but during one intermission, the Hawks cheerleaders, the A-Town Dancers, come out and do a routine to Eve’s “Tambourine.” Don’t get me wrong, the ladies look good, but the outfits and gesturing are borderline stripper-like. Had I had a 10-year-old daughter (or son, for that matter) at the game, that moment would have been quite uncomfortable.
-Into the third, excitement from the stands and good play on the court stays pretty high. For every dagger Dirk Notwitzki attempts to put in the Hawks’ heart, Joe answers with a spear of his own. The team leaders act like just that on this night.
-What’s a Mavs game re-cap without some mention of Mark Cuban, right? Cube’s in the building, as usual, right behind his players’ bench, and maaaaan, do the Hawks let you know it. On too many occasions, Mark’s face is plastered on the jumbotron. Harry the Hawk does this parody of “Dancing with the Stars” that’s about as funny as that stupid Caveman show. And topping that, the organization puts together this parody of Cuban’s life in a somewhat-humorous segment called “True Hardcore Stories.” But Mark, the consummate jester, takes it all in stride.
-But who knows how he felt after the fourth quarter ends and his team falls to Atlanta, 101-94? Great win for the Hawks. Though this season is a long way from even being halfway over, Mike Woodson’s flock shows things it rarely showed last year: heart, consistency and some fourth-quarter guts. 81 more like that and Detroit and Miami officially have a problem in the East.