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NEW YORK — While this may be the week to debone and devour one particular noble bird, we would be remiss if we didn’t give props to another able avian.

For one night, anyway, the Hawks were not most foul.

Atlanta became the last NBA team to get its first win, doing so Thanksgiving Eve by outscoring the rapidly rotting Celtics, 120-117.

That the Hawks began the season 0-9 hardly served as Southern Comfort for their one or two rows of fine feathered fans.

Still, it’s not as if there’s no precedent here as evidenced by the previous season (13-69) of discontent and an average 55 losses over the past half-dozen.

However, take a greater gander at GM Billy Knight’s gang and you don’t necessarily find the level of laughingstock levity so often dawdling in Dixie.

Al Harrington, who defrocked Boston’s Antoine Walker-deprived squad for a season-high 34 points (24 before intermission) and seven assists, has notched double-doubles in half of his previous six games.

Of course, that pales in comparison to this space’s favorite new paint patroller, Zaza Pachulia, 21, a macho forward temporarily converted into a center, who went for his fifth double bagger in his last six tries.

Pachulia filled up Wednesday’s box with 19 points and 13 rebounds (throw in four assists) and began the holiday as the league’s most proficient offensive rebounder, 4.8 per, including eight against the Celtics, who almost strictly dependent these days on their veterans.

Atlanta’s Salim Stoudamire, the first choice of the second round in this year’s draft, isn’t by any measurement a prototype point guard and the 184-cm Arizona product is a mismatch waiting to be exploited at off-guard.

In the meantime, until opponents confirm what he can’t do, he’s showing them (30 versus the Hornets, 19 versus the Celtics) what he can when given the chance.

And we’re just getting to Joe Johnson, who leads the flock at more than 19 points per game, nor have we even touched on hotshot rookie Marvin Williams, reigning dunk champ Josh Smith and Josh Childress.

Guaranteed all (add Harrington) but Childress are convinced they deserve more shots and minutes than anyone else.

Guaranteed Hawks coach Mike Woodson and the coaching staff are frequently forced to deal (discipline?) with their “I” versus “team” mentality. That belief is based purely on reading their interaction on the court and their body language toward the staff when being subbed for.

Guaranteed the team would be much better off had Deron Williams or Chris Paul been plucked at No. 2 instead of Williams; talent scouts universally had them pegged as natural born leaders and they were correct.

Now let’s get back to reality. For the good of the team, Johnson needs to stop posing as a point. He flaunts an uncanny handle, especially for someone 203 cm, but he’s not a particularly inspired conductor. Not quite another Magic Johnson.

The responsibility to get others involved, it says here, detracts from the rest of his astrophysical game.

As we all know, basketball’s two most important positions are center and the point. The Hawks boast neither.

In all fairness to the Hawks’ false start, the schedule maker must have strong St. Louis roots and still holds a grudge against them for moving to Atlanta.

I offer the following factoid to toss around: Six of the Hawks’ first nine games were away from Philips Arena, while all nine were against Western Conference competition.

That’s right — the game against the Celtics was their first versus the Eastern Conference this season.


Because the Knicks are stacked almost one deep in playmakers, Larry Brown feels he can’t grant Stephon Marbury his wish to convert exclusively from the point to shooting guard, a la Allen Iverson when Brown coached Philly.

The 76ers’ situation was different, Brown underlines: “I had Eric Snow and Larry Hughes.”

You mean the Larry Hughes drafted No. 8 overall in ’98?

You mean the 19-year-old Brown was so eager to teach, showing so much patience he lasted all of 100 games before being sent to Golden State?

You mean the 196-cm guard who was so dependable under Brown he committed 163 turnovers while delivering 157 assists?

It’s not surprising Brown would fudge the facts a bit or try to make someone out of nothing. Even less surprising is the media’s repeated use of his quote without probing its relevancy.

The Florida Marlins are in the midst of a salary dump to pare down a bloated payroll. I won’t take this seriously until they contact Isiah Thomas.

Prior to Thursday’s abysmal performance by the Cavaliers (a 98-76 loss to the Pacers) and dismal marksmanship by LeBron James (6-20 FG, 19 points), he was averaging an unreal 28.4 points per game on 19.2 attempts and shooting .526.

In contrast, Kobe Bryant was averaging 33 points on 28.7 attempts and .443, before notching 34 in victory against the Sonics.


You sort of figured things aren’t working out in the White House this holiday season, when, for the first time, the turkey pardoned the President.

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