If the season were to end today, the Hawks — currently 7th in the Easter Conference at 21-26 —-would make the NBA playoffs for the first time in 8 years. Their relative improvement, and the matter of Tuesday’s tilt with Detroit are of lesser import this morning to the Atlanta Constitution-Journal’s Sekou Smith who reports, “the prank war between the veterans and the rookies is underway”.

The first blow was struck by the veterans, who deposited 14 large bags of popcorn into the cars of unsuspecting rookies Acie Law IV and Mario West during practice Monday – rookie center Al Horford was out of the country tending to a personal matter and did not attend practice.

The rookies were caught off guard, though West discovered he had been hit first and text messaged Law from the popcorn-splattered player parking lot to warn him that were the victims of well-planned sneak attack.

But not even advance warning was enough to calm Law, who vowed to get revenge on his veteran teammates.

“It’s on now,” Law said through clenched teeth said. “They all better watch their backs because this ain’t over.”

Hawks center Lorenzen Wright, who engineered the sneak attack, said that he felt the rookies needed a little reminder of just where they sit on the food chain.

“Acie hasn’t danced in the middle of our [pregame] huddle all year,” said a smiling Wright. “He hasn’t done anything right all year. Mario, we just gave him a little tune-up, a warning. He’s starting to hang around Acie and pick up some of his bad habits.

“Acie had to get the full power, the full throttle of what we bring to bear. And I don’t care what they think they’re going to do. Rookies can’t pull pranks. You just have to grit your teeth and bear it when you’re a rookie. We’ve all been through it.”

Not only has Wright lived through his own rookie hazing, he’s shared stories with other players throughout his career.

“Jermaine O’Neal and I came into the league together,” Wright said. “JO told me that when he was in Portland that Gary Trent, Rasheed Wallace and all them jumped him, took all his clothes, locked him out of his room and then trashed his whole room. And I’m talking about flushing sheets down the toilets, soaked all his clothes and everything”.