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Williams, Horford pace Hawks past Indiana

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Williams, Horford pace Hawks past Indiana

ATLANTA (AP) Al Horford believes the Atlanta Hawks are starting to tap into their potential.

Even with Josh Smith injured and unable to play, the Hawks still got some important baskets, rebounds and defensive stops from role players in a 109-100 over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night.

``I think it showed growth from our team being in a position where they made a run at us and we needed to score,'' Horford said. ``Guys scored some key points. We got stops when we needed to. That was a game where we got better.''

Lou Williams had 21 points and a career-high 12 assists, Horford added 20 points and Atlanta won its fourth straight.

David West scored a game-high 29 points for the Pacers, who had won four in a row and seven of eight.

Smith, Atlanta's leading scorer this season, watched the game from the bench as Zaza Pachulia made his seventh start of the season and responded with 17 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.

Williams, who signed in the offseason to be the Hawks' sixth man, had his first career double-double. Rookie John Jenkins scored a career-high 10 points, and Ivan Johnson shook off flu-like symptoms to add six points and six rebounds.

Injuries to reserve guards Devin Harris and Anthony Morrow left Atlanta coach Larry Drew with just nine players in his rotation, but Indiana never got closer than three in the fourth quarter after Paul George's three-point play made it 91-88 at the 5:18 mark.

Jeff Teague's floating runner made it 101-90 less than 3 minutes later. Teague scored 10 of his 15 points in the final period.

``From a production standpoint, everybody gave a little something,'' Drew said. ``We did what we had to do, particularly on the defensive end. We had to make a lot of adjustments as the game went on to try to keep them off-balance a little bit.''

Pachulia and Horford combined to hold Pacers center Roy Hibbert to no points, one rebound and one blocked shot in 20-plus minutes. Hibbert was such a non-factor that Indiana coach Frank Vogel kept him on the bench in the fourth quarter.

``I love the kid,'' Vogel said. ``He has great heart, gave great effort. He didn't have it tonight.''

West gave Atlanta fits for much of the game, twice hitting 3-pointers at the shot-clock buzzer, but his offensive movement away from the ball opened up chances for teammates and helped him find good looks to score 11 points in the fourth.

``We knew David West had it going,'' Teague said, ``so we just had to try to do our best to let him see a double-team and a wall, and we got some big stops.''

George finished with 18 points and George Hill added 15 for Indiana. Hill started and played 33 minutes despite a sore right groin.

West liked the Pacers' chances before the game with Smith, Harris and Morrow unable to play. It just didn't work out the way he had hoped.

``Even though we had it close, they controlled the game from start to finish,'' West said. ``They were locked in offensively. We just couldn't put up a big enough fight to slow them down.''

Kyle Korver scored five points in a single possession late in the third to push the lead to 12 points.

After officials watched a video replay, the call was upheld that Lance Stephenson committed a flagrant foul on Korver, pushing him to the floor on a play away from the ball. Korver hit both free throws and then a 3-pointer at the 4:10 mark to make it 77-65.

``He purposely ran at me,'' Korver said. ``I saw him coming. I knew he was going to hit me like that. I just took it, you know? But he put a shoulder into my chest.''

The Hawks' lead swelled to 18 with 2:12 remaining in the third on Johnson's putback.

Horford, who played 37 minutes despite a right hip contusion, hit a 17-footer to make it 93-88 with 5:02 remaining.

Indiana never led after Korver's 3-pointer made it 18-16 at the 4:13 mark of the first.

NOTES: Smith was injured in Friday's win at Cleveland. Drew listed his status as day to day. ... Stephenson was helped off the floor with 5:44 remaining after getting hit on the left side of the face. ... Atlanta has won 11 straight at home over Indiana and four straight overall. ... Harris missed his six straight games with a sore left foot. ... Morrow is recovering from a strained right hip after getting hurt at Cleveland. ... Pacers reserve G Sam Young did not travel with the team because of the flu. ... Atlanta is 4-0 with Williams in the starting lineup.

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Redrafting the 2003 draft: Patrice Bergeron could have been a Penguin

Redrafting the 2003 draft: Patrice Bergeron could have been a Penguin

It takes years to determine who the best players in any given draft are. How would past NHL drafts look if they were redrafted today? Let's look back at the 2003 draft and see how it shaped today's NHL.

Here's a look at the first round of 2003 redrafted.

The draft was a total bust for Washington

In the real draft, the Caps took Eric Fehr 18th overall. He played in 652 NHL games. The remaining five players the team drafted combined for one single NHL game. Yikes.

Phaneuf to the Caps?

In the redraft, I had defenseman Dion Phaneuf going to Washington. Before you groan, let's not forget that he played in over 1,000 NHL games and, while he was with Calgary, he looked absolutely dominant. I don't think there are any questions that he struggled handling the pressure as captain of Toronto. Almost every stat takes a precipitous decline when you compare his Calgary numbers to when he was with the Maple Leafs. I don't think that would have been a problem in Washington as just one year after this draft, the Caps selected a guy by the name of Alex Ovechkin who took all the attention. If Phaneuf had been in a city where he could just play, he would have been a top-pair defenseman for most of his career.

This also would have affected the 2004 draft for Washington. The Caps had three first-round picks. They used one on Ovechkin then took Jeff Schultz and Mike Green late in the round. Do they go both defense at that point if they had taken Phaneuf the year before? I'm not so sure.

Would Bergeron have helped Pittsburgh?

Patrice Bergeron was the best player in the 2003 draft. He went with the 45th overall pick to the Boston Bruins. The Pittsburgh Penguins had the No.1 overall pick that year and selected goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. That is not a bad pick by any stretch, but with one of the best two-way forwards of all-time available to them, would Pittsburgh have been able to pass him up knowing how good he really was?

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The interesting thing about this is that if Pittsburgh had taken arguably the better player in Bergeron, it may have cost them in the long run. Fleury was the backstop of three Stanley Cup runs for the Penguins. OK, so he only played in two playoff games in 2016 and yielded the crease to Matt Murray, but he retook the No. 1 job in 2017 when again Pittsburgh won the Cup. Also, just two years after the 2003 draft, the Penguins ended up with a pretty decent two-way center by the name of Sidney Crosby. The idea of a team with both Crosby and Bergeron on it is daunting, but its two players of the same position and they would have still needed a goalie.

The Penguins may not have ended up with the better player overall, but they did get exactly the player they needed in Fleury.

Fleury to Columbus?

In the redraft, Fleury dops from first to fourth and is snagged by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Would Fleury have been able to get Columbus over the playoff hump sooner? That's a tough question to answer.

Goaltending has not been a major weakness for Columbus. Yes, he could have given the team a boost, but the roster was awful there for several years after the expansion draft. When the team did finally make the playoffs for the first time in 2009, it was off the back of an incredible rookie season from goalie Steve Mason. They also had a pretty good netminder in Sergei Bobrovsky from 2013 to 2019, or at least he was pretty good in the regular season.

Correction: regular season goaltending has not been a major weakness for Columbus. Actually, Bobrovsky was terrible in the playoffs for much of his career. Perhaps there is some validity to the argument that better netminding from Fleury -- who is a strong postseason performer -- could have potentially changed the trajectory of the franchise.

See the first round of 2003 redrafted here.

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Redskins Superlatives: Two tremendous leaders earn the Most Likely to Become President Award

Redskins Superlatives: Two tremendous leaders earn the Most Likely to Become President Award

This week, JP Finlay and Pete Hailey will be handing out Redskins Superlatives as they continue to preview the 2020 season.

Next up: They give their Most Likely to Become President Award to a fan favorite and the franchise's newest leader.

JP's pick: Terry McLaurin

There is nothing Terry McLaurin can't do and he's got my vote for president should he ever decide to run. Beyond the breakout rookie year, the precise route running and his blazing speed, McLaurin talks like a 10-year veteran.

This offseason has been hard for everyone, but McLaurin explained things better than most: "Football is what I love to do. I can’t think of a better blessing in my life to be playing the game that I love. When you get through the course of such a long NFL season and you get to the end, it’s like man, I’m ready for that break. That burning desire is still inside of you to continue to get better and continue to improve. Now with us having a new staff, we’re just all looking forward to being on the field again. I feel like sports is something that this country needs as well. The camaraderie of it, the togetherness that it brings."

Put McLaurin on the ballot — but ideally after a 15-year career with a whole lot of postseason success.

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Pete's pick: Ron Rivera

JP and I didn't go to school together — that's because he's a LOT OLDER than me — but if we did, it would've been a surprise if we ever got an A-plus on the same assignment. In fact, it would've been a huge surprise, and perhaps an impossibility.

But in this instance, we're both getting an A-plus. He nailed his pick, and I'm nailing mine. 

Ron Rivera hasn't been with the Redskins long, and due to this unusual offseason, the media hasn't gotten to hang around him much in person, aside from his introductory press conference in January and some time at the Combine. 

Even so, we have still talked to him plenty on Zoom, and in all of those instances, I've been floored by his leadership, his intelligence and his perspective on everything, both football-related topics and topics that relate more to life overall. 

RELATED: RIVERA ON NOT SIGNING CAM NEWTON

At this point, I'm pretty much convinced every company or group in the world would be better with Rivera involved. He's fair, he's level-headed and he simultaneously gives and commands respect. 

For now, Rivera's just in the running for an NFC East title, but if he ever sets his sights on running for office, he'll have one mediocre blogger on his side.

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