The Atlanta Hawks are in the Eastern Conference finals and the series is being broadcast on TNT, which makes for an in-town jaunt to cover the Hawks’ home games in the series for the “Inside the NBA” crew of Shaquille O’Neal, Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith. That quartet had a perch in Philips Arena to watch and broadcast the game and, as is tradition at Hawks games between quarters or during timeouts, the “Kiss Cam” was had its moment in the sun.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — During last night’s Hawks/Wizards Game 5, as terrific as it was, might have been upstaged by a few seconds on the Kiss Cam. As you can here, a young couple is enjoying the Hawks game, and then the Kiss Cam shows up and puts them on the screen, so they kiss and…welp…you can see how it went…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — In Game 3 of their series against the Washington Wizards, the Atlanta Hawks mounted a furious fourth quarter comeback, only to lose on a game-winning buzzer-beater from Paul Pierce. And not only was it a game-winning buzzer-beater, it was a game-winning buzzer-beater off of the glass. As Pierce said later, he didn’t call glass, he called game. Pierce joined Chicago’s Derrick Rose, who also hit a game-winning buzzer beater, also off the glass, to beat the Cavaliers.
How to deal? Well, the Hawks suggested perhaps we should just ban using the glass on buzzer-beaters altogether. If you’re a Hawks or Bulls fan, you can support this movement by signing their iPetition. OK, so it’ll never work, but still, as coping mechanisms go, this one is rather humorous.
Did you call bank? Paul Pierce was asked after putting the dagger in the Hawks.
“I called game,” he responded.
Perfect. And clutch. And another part of his Hall of Fame legacy. And a funny summation.
Pierce hitting the 21 footer — off glass — to give the Wizards a 103-101 win Saturday in Washington and a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals was everything, delivering in the moment and also the emotional boost of a close victory, or any victory, with All-Star John Wall sidelined by a broken left hand.
Pierce supplying a much-needed veteran presence in the wake of the emotional hit of losing Wall would have been plenty. It really would have been a big contribution as the Hawks charged back from a 21-point deficit with about 10 minutes to play. The shot, though, was a highlight moment even for a player who has had so many through the years.
It wasn’t just a clutch shot. It was a tough shot, slightly fading away and under defensive pressure from Dennis Schroder. Pierce was near the top of the free-throw circle, took a one-bounce dribble to his left and elevated with the additional clearance at 6 foot 7 over the 6-1 Schroder. Kent Bazemore came over for the double team, but it was too late. The ball was away.
Pierce shouldn’t have been needed to play the hero. The Wizards were up 21 early in the fourth quarter, until the Hawks went on a 17-0 run to close within three points with about 3 1/2 minutes remaining. When Mike Muscala connected from behind the arc with 14.1 seconds left, Atlanta had erased the entire deficit. It was 101-101, setting the stage for Pierce.
Rhetorical question, right?
Pierce’s momentum took him backward and to the court, where he stayed, on his back with his arms up and outstretched. Bradley Beal, the first teammate to get there, stood over Pierce and delivered a series of soft punches to the gut and chest — right, left, right, left, right. The other Wizards charged over to mob him, including Wall in suit and tie, as the crowd exploded in delight. The shot was the thing, but high marks for the reaction as well.
Five Horrys, because five is the limit. This should break the scale, though. Five isn’t enough. Ten wouldn’t be enough. Maybe 34 would be.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — If there’s any NBA team that should be embracing emojis, those little pictures you can use on your phone when texting and emailing, it’s the Atlanta Hawks. After all, Hawks forward Mike Scott has dozens of emoji tattoos. In fact, Scott recently did an interview where he responded only using emojis.
“Connecting with our fans is extremely important and our new app and keyboard will allow us to build an innovative bridge to reach tech-savvy Hawks supporters, giving them around-the-clock access to team-related information at their fingertips,” said Hawks CEO Steve Koonin. “The custom emoji keyboard will change the way our fans communicate, enhancing text conversations by enabling users to speak the language of the Hawks.”
The downloadable custom keyboard, developed by Snaps, includes Hawks-themed emojis ranging from electronically-generated images of player logos and gear, to distinguishing features of players and Harry the Hawk. In addition to the exclusive Hawks emojis, the keyboard gives users the ability to send animated GIF files to friends through text messages. Snaps, the creator of a unique content management system for messaging, is the first end-to-end platform for brand marketing across messaging applications and devices.
“A major way that my generation communicates and expresses itself is through emojis. This keyboard will add some fun, new options to my text game. I love it,” said Mike Scott, Hawks forward and emoji expert.
The “Hawks High Flyers” contest is a game-by-game competition through the app requiring fans to predict which players will lead the team in specific statistical categories. Throughout the season, prizes will be awarded to fans who accurately predict team leaders. Other prominent app features include: an interactive amenities map, giving fans locations and descriptions of food and beverage options in Philips Arena; and traffic alerts, providing information and navigation assistance to fans traveling to the arena.
Here’s a look at how it works. (The Schröder hair is my favorite.)
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The Atlanta Hawks have probably the best in-arena organist in the business. Sir Foster has become known for playing all sorts of songs you never hear played on an organ during Hawks games. It’s a little bit deceiving — you’re used to hearing typical “rah rah” songs from the organ, so if you’re not careful you might not notice that Foster is jamming on OutKast or 2 Chainz or whatever Atlanta or national artist is popular at the time.
Foster is very active on Twitter, interacting with fans during games. (I’ve requested he play ATL group Kriss Kross‘s “Jump” whenever there’s a jump ball.) Yesterday, our friends at SB Nation launched a campaign to get Foster to play “Pony” by Ginuwine during last night’s Hawks/Wizards game. Why “Pony?” As they said on SB Nation, “there is one song every human being on earth enjoys, and that song is ‘Pony’ by Ginuwine.”
After using Twitter to lobby Foster during the day, he responded…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — I only started watching “Game of Thrones” a few years ago, but I managed to plow my way through every episode and catch up quickly. And one thing you notice is each house, or family, has their own sigil, or logo. Well, Reddit user ninetythrees did the logical thing and created a series of NBA-related sigils, as if each NBA team was involved in Westeros or somewhere over there. Cool stuff.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The Hawks won the Eastern Conference and start their postseason run this weekend against the Brooklyn Nets. And what better way to commemorate the Hawks’ playoff aspirations than by making a huge Hawks Pacman logo out of Post-It notes on a wall. Must have been a slow day in the office there…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — So here’s something you don’t see every day. During last night’s Suns/Hawks game, Phoenix guard Eric Bledsoe was leading a fast break when he got slowed down by a foul from Hawks big man Pero Antic. But then, before he could even go to the free throw line, Bledsoe was ejected. As he said later in the Arizona Republic, “I said something else that was inappropriate,” said Bledsoe, who had nine points, five assists and five turnovers in 26 minutes. We were struggling. I don’t know what it was. We just got a little frustrated. We just weren’t in it. We’ve been struggling since the break. Trades just happen.”
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The thing that has made the Atlanta Hawks so tough to defend this season is that offensively, the Hawks are completely committed to finding the best possible shot they can find. This means that you often see players give up good shots in order to find a teammate with a great shot. Which means you might get multiple players who are named All-Stars, but there may also be nights where those guys don’t score a ton and instead act as facilitators for the other players.
This was the kind of game Kyle Korver was having last night for the Atlanta Hawks, acting most as a decoy and making life easier for his teammates. Then, all of a sudden, halfway through the third quarter everything opened up for Korver and he got 4 consecutive long jumpers (three threes and one with his foot on the three-point line). Before you watch this clip below, remember that Korver had not scored at all in the game when this stretch below happened. He didn’t score after this stretch. And the Hawks won by 13.