Ken sitting in for MC, who’s prepping himself for the epic road trip. A couple things from shootaround.
1) Larry Drew will start the “big” lineup, which means to start Al Horford will be matched up with Blake Griffin.
Horford, on how aware he is of the hype surrounding Griffin: “Very aware. We see him on ESPN every day, the highlights and the dunks. He’s a great player.”
2) Horford and Joe Johnson comments on their All-Star selections, second and fifth, respectively.
Horford: “It’s special. I take a lot of pride in working and just getting better as a player. I”m happy to be on a team like this. We’ve been winning, we’ve been having success, so that makes it better.”
Johnson: “I had visions (of achieving this at the start of his career), not knowing if it would happen or not. Now that it’s a reality, every year’s been amazing, and I’m sure this year’s going to be amazing, too. I’m just looking forward to going out there, having fun representing the Atlanta Hawks.”
3) Josh Smith was even-handed about not making the team. He had been public about his aspirations of getting named.
Smith: “It is what it is. Nothing surprises me about anything in this league. You can’t let one thing affect your whole season. We’ve got something good going. I’m going to continue to play hard, continue to do what I’ve been doing the first half of the season and continue to have a successful season.”
4) Drew on Griffin: “He’s got the power, he’s got the athleticism, he can dominate the game.”
Drew also likes Baron Davis and thinks he “still has something left in the tank” and center DeAndre Jordan (7.2 rpg, 6.9 ppg), the 35th pick in the 2008 draft.
A concern, naturally, for Drew is the Clippers’ pick-and-roll with Davis and Griffin.
Drew: “We really have to focus on what we have to do as far as coming out and playing with aggression right at the very beginning, try to, as much as we can, limit Griffin’s’ ability to roll to the basket for lobs and in the transition. We’ve got to be all on the same page so we can affect him going to the basket.”
If you don’t remember, the Clippers led 31-18 after the first quarter in the fiHrst meeting Jan. 2 and 53-42 at halftime before the Hawks won going away in the second half of a 107-98 win. Griffin had 31 and 15. Yikes. Johnson led with 29, Jamal Crawford added 24 and Smith had 22.