With a 9-2 start entering Wednesday night's game, the Hawks led the Southeast Division and Eastern Conference. While his team was predicted widely to finish no better than second in the division behind Orlando, Hawks coach Mike Woodson has put the bug in his players' ears that first place isn't something that they have to relinquish.
"We haven't experienced that since I've been here as the head coach," said Woodson, in his sixth season. "Since we're sitting up there, as a coach, I'm going to push them to try to stay there. If we can win our division, it would be a major, major step for our franchise and the direction where this team is going."
The Hawks are also ranked first in rankings on espn.com and nba.com, which was a matter of far less concern to Woodson.
"I could care less about who's ranking what," he said. "It doesn't mean a [darn] thing to me, it really doesn't."
Scoring a season-low six points Monday against Portland did not faze backup guard Jamal Crawford. He kept his same shootaround routine, making about 150 shots, a variety of 3-pointers, pull-up jumpers and spot-up jumpers from all over the court.
"If I get a 50-point game, I do the same thing," said Crawford, who was averaging 16.6 points per game entering Wednesday night, second in the NBA among players who had not started a game. "You just keep going. There's so many games, you're going to have games like that."
*The Hawks caught a break as the Heat sat forward Udonis Haslem with a shoulder sprain, an injury he aggravated in the Heat's loss to Oklahoma City on Tuesday. Haslem was averaging 11.7 points and 9.6 rebounds.
*Thrashers players Ilya Kovalchuk, Evander Kane and Nik Antropov attended the game.
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