Mike Bibby spent the first nine-plus years of his NBA career as a floor general in the Western Conference, primarily for the Sacramento Kings.
But now that he's been an Atlanta Hawk for a week, his perspective has quickly changed.
"I don't really care about the West right now," said Bibby when asked about his thoughts on the tight race atop his former longtime conference. "I'm in the East now and we're trying to push for a playoff spot."
Bibby had a nice outing in just his fourth game since being traded to the Hawks, with 18 points and nine assists. But it wasn't quite enough, as the Utah Jazz edged Atlanta 100-94 at EnergySolutions Arena on Saturday night.
It looked like the Jazz were going to coast to yet another win over the Hawks at home. Atlanta hasn't beaten Utah in Salt Lake City in 15 years, and on Saturday the Jazz built up a 19-point lead late in the second quarter.
But Bibby made three straight 3-point jumpers in the final 1:17 of the first half to help the Hawks cut the gap to just seven at intermission. Atlanta actually took a brief lead, but that was before Bibby was forced to leave the game after picking up his fourth foul with 8:24 to play in the third.
"Mike give us that 3-point shot so that we can post some of the perimeter guys like Josh Smith and Marvin (Williams) and Joe (Johnson) and still have another guy out there who can knock shots down," said Hawks coach Mike Woodson.
Bibby finished the game with four treys while actually putting up better numbers than Utah's young star Deron Williams. Bibby, though, has plenty of respect for the Jazz's third-year point guard.
"(Williams) is a great young player," said Bibby. "I look at him as a younger me. He has a shot and can pass. He's strong and can get to the basket. He's one of the top point guards in the league right now, and everybody knows it."
Atlanta, meanwhile, is pleased to have a veteran floor leader to help the progression of talented young players like Smith, Williams and Al Horford.
"He's fitting in great," said Woodson of Bibby. "He's a little bit banged up right now. His heel is bothering him, so I'm trying to monitor his minutes and not burn him out. But he's been great. He's doing a lot of things that we haven't had in a point guard in the four years I've been here."
While Bibby is now playing for an Eastern Conference team, he started his Hawks career on a five-game trip through the West, with Utah being the fourth stop. Still, he's happy so far with his new teammates."I like it," said Bibby about being a Hawk. "It's going to come. This is my (fourth) game and I think I've had about five minutes of practice, so I think we're doing pretty good for that reason."
E-mail: [email protected]