Hawks 96 Clippers 93
There's been a strong element of luck to the Hawks' West Coast swing. They played the Suns without Nash and the Clippers without Brand. They've won all three close games on the trip, aided by Stephen Jackson missing the winner in the Golden State game, and were otherwise pummelled by Utah. That said, for a young team learning to win, the past week has been outstanding for Atlanta. Joe Johnson and Josh Smith are firmly establishing themselves as a formidable 1-2 punch and they've gotten help from Zaza and Childress as their glue guys on the trip.
I thought that a reasonable goal for the Hawks this year would be 35 wins or more and that looks quite attainable now, as the team would need to go a modest 14-16 the rest of the way to achieve that mark. I'd like to dream higher and imagine the Hawks putting pressure on the Magic for the #8 spot in the East (the Magic are #7 right now, one-half game ahead of the Heat, but the Heat are very likely to pass them), but the Hawks' home form will probably prevent that. They aren't the sort of team that holds serve at home and against bad teams such that they can turn a great road trip like this one into a huge run, but maybe they'll surprise us some more.
A few more random numbers:
1. The Hawks have more road wins than any other team in the Eastern Conference.
2. Salim Stoudamire played four minutes last night at didn't attempt a single shot from the field. That must be some sort of record.
3. Shelden Williams is firmly in the dog house right now, as evidenced by the one minute he got last night. Shelden and Marvin have been the two disappointments of the season for the Hawks (injuries have certainly played a role), so maybe it's more important to see some development from the two of them in the final 30 games of the season than it is for the Hawks to make a run at a playoff spot, although the two possibilities certainly aren't inconsistent.