Just four games into the season and there are some sure signs that Teague has graduated from Rook’ to rotation guy and the new Rook’, JC2, likely is going to have to go through much the same thing as Teague did last season.
First on Teague: Did you see how he checked in at Cleveland in the third quarter last just after the Cavs took their first lead since the first?
“I was kind of shocked, to be honest,” he said. “When I subbed in, we were up two. I thought he was going to pull me back and say, ‘Let Mike play,’ but he told me to go in. That made me want to go out there and play even harder knowing that he believed in me. I’m glad we came back and pulled out a victory.”
Teague almost immediately missed a bad jump but he stayed in the game. He missed two more jumpers near the end of the period yet no one went to the scorer’s table to replace him. Teague didn’t come out until 6:19 of the fourth quarter, by which time he’d contributed a block, steal and a couple free throws while playing good on-ball defense.
L.D. said leaving Teague out there is part of a long-term plan: “A big part of Jeff’s growth process is his ability how to play through those situations. In the past he probably was yanked out of the game when those situations come up. I told him and all our bench guys I expect them to play through those situations.”
JC2, it’s clear by now, isn’t going to see many of those kind of situations. The exceptions will be games like tonight, with Jamal sitting out with an injured toe.
I asked L.D. before the Cavs game if Jordan was still into it after going from playing big minutes in the preseason to spending most nights on the inactive list.
“I’ve got to keep him engaged,” Drew said. “He’s going through a situation a lot of rookies go through. He went from being the man in college to coming to this level and their roles change. He played a lot in preseason because a lot of guys were hurt. It’s a role that he’s going to have to accept and he just has to stay ready.
“There are no guarantees as far as what can happen, injuries can settle in [rotation] guys can get sick. He has to stay ready at all times. He is not going through anything that any other rookie has not gone through. It’s just a matter of being prepared, accepting his role and staying ready.”
J.J. said he’s not sure how JC2 is handling his circumstance but he’s tried to keep him up.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t tough [for Jordan] because it is,” he said. “But it is part of it. Once he pays his dues he is definitely going to be one of the good players in this league.”
L.D. said Jamal suffered a turf toe injury when he was fouled last night.
L.D. thinks Teague hasn’t been as aggressive since injuring his ankle during the preseason. Teague said the ankle is affecting him “just a little bit.”
“It’s hard to go to the left sometimes,” he said. “Once I get to running, I am all right.”
Worst than the injury is the tape job Teague is forced to play with: “I hate ankle tape. I hate it.”
Out for the Pistons: Rip Hamilton (foot), Chris Wilcox (hamstring), Will Bynum (hamstring), Jonas Jerebko (Achilles) and Terrico White (foot).
Last time the Hawks played the Pistons in a situation like this, they lost 90-88 at The Palace (without Joe, but Detroit was missing Rip, Prince, Wilcox and Maxiell).
“These are games that historically not been good to us [against] teams with injuries,” L.D. said. “We have to come out and establish ourselves early.”