The Hawks last met Golden State seven games and almost two weeks ago, but they have hardly forgotten about it.
Against a shorthanded Warriors team, the Hawks gave up an 18-point third-quarter lead and lost 108-104 on Feb. 21. Golden State went on a 16-0 run in the fourth to take control of the game. The two teams play Friday night at Philips Arena.
"That happens in our league when you get comfortable with leads," coach Mike Woodson said Thursday. "If you don't handle your business, it can come back to bite you in the butt and that's what happened."
Losing to last-place Golden State, which only had eight available players and hadn't beaten a team with a winning record in almost two months, was a healthy slice of humble pie for the Hawks. Adding to the embarrassment, the game was televised on ESPN.
"That game [stunk]," forward Marvin Williams said. "I think guys really remember that game. It was a couple weeks ago. I think we'll come out [Friday] and play with a lot of passion and fire."
Since then, the Hawks have won five of six, although they lost to Dallas last Friday after giving up an 11-point lead with five minutes remaining. Golden State has lost four of five since.
Campaign for Smith
Through Wednesday's games, forward Josh Smith was the only player in the NBA averaging at least 15 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists per game. Since being left out of the All-Star game, a season-long goal of Smith's, he has been playing arguably the best basketball of his career.
Said Woodson, "He's playing so much better right now, it's a joke."
Woodson said he will write letters to fellow coaches urging them to vote for Smith for the All-Defensive team, just as he wrote to Eastern Conference coaches to make the case for Joe Johnson, Al Horford, Jamal Crawford and Smith for the All-Star team. Woodson said he had never promoted his players in this way until this year.
Said Woodson, "Because we've never been good enough."
Fired up Williams
Williams played perhaps his two best back-to-back games of the season Monday against Chicago and Wednesday against Philadelphia. He totaled 39 points with 17 rebounds in the two games. Williams got a jolt when Woodson called him into his office last week after a shoot-around. Williams, who has had an up-and-down season, likened it to getting called into the principal's office.
"He told me I've definitely got to elevate my game back to the way I was playing the last couple of years," Williams said. "That's what I've been trying to do."
Said Horford, "It feels good to see Marvin be Marvin. Hopefully, he keeps this level of intensity up."
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Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com