Hawks' Smith second for defensive POY

So Hawks forward Josh Smith didn't make the All-Star team. Tuesday brought some consolation.

Smith finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting behind Orlando center Dwight Howard. It bodes well for Smith's candidacy for the All-Defensive Team, which besides making the All-Star team was a personal goal for Smith this season.

"I'm just good with being mentioned," Smith said. "Last year, I wasn't even mentioned in the top 10 in voting. This is a really, really big accomplishment for me."

Smith, something of the quarterback for the Hawks' defense, averaged 8.7 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.6 steals per game. At 6-foot-9, he was the tallest player in the top 12 in steals and the shortest in the top 12 in blocks.

Smith received three first-place votes, 34 second-place votes and 19 third-place votes from the 122 voters for 136 points, 23 ahead of Charlotte's Gerald Wallace. Howard won with 576 votes, including 110 first-place votes.

It's the second year in a row Howard, from Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, has won the award. Smith was happy to finish behind Howard, his former Atlanta Celtics AAU teammate and a friend since they went to the same pre-school. Smith said defense was not stressed in pre-school.

"We stressed nibbling on toys, [and] trying to get potty trained," he said. "That's what we were trying to do, [and] watching a little Barney, Elmo."

The last time a Hawk finished as high as Smith was the 1997-98 season, when Dikembe Mutombo won his third of four awards.

Coachspeak

While the Hawks are noted for their penchant for running isolation plays, Bucks coach Scott Skiles didn't think their use of the play was so unusual.

"Against our team, the way we're constructed and the way they're constructed, it makes sense for them to go to certain areas with certain guys and try to get baskets," he said. "They've got some size, length and we've just got to battle harder and live with the result."

Beware the dogs

Utah and Portland both won on the road in their respective playoff series, Utah against Denver in Game 2 and Portland against Phoenix in Game 1. The Blazers and Jazz, like the Bucks, are underdog teams missing key players.

The Hawks noticed the similarities.

“We talked about that a little bit,” Woodson said. “The first game is important, but the second game is just as important. We’ve got to come out and be committed for 48 minutes.”

Etc.

The Hawks have won the first two games of a seven-game playoff series three times in franchise history and advanced to the next round each time. The St. Louis Hawks went up 2-0 on Detroit in the 1958 Western Division finals, and the Atlanta Hawks took a 2-0 lead against San Diego in the 1969 West semifinals and led Chicago 3-0 in the 1970 West semis.

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