Orlando–Joe Johnson isn’t playing in the All-Star game tomorrow because of his balky left knee. That doesn’t mean he gets to skip the assorted weekend appearances and obligations that come along with being an All-Star. I caught up with Joe today before the Eastern Conference practice.
Q. They’ve got you doing all this hoopla even though you aren’t playing?
A. Aw, man.
Q. You are just trying to rest, right?
A. That’s it. Just trying to get this knee right.
Q. How is it feeling?
A. It feels great. I don’t have no pain in it right now, actually. I’ve been getting a lot of stim [electrical stimulation] and ice. Just trying to get ready for this second half.
Q. Do you think the rest will help the knee?
A. Definitely. It’s the first time all season I will get a chance to have, what, four or five days off? Can’t beat that. [Note: He actually will get at least eight days off without a game.]
Q. Do you think the schedule caught up to you?
A. Yeah, for me, it has. This tendinitis is lingering around and not getting a chance to really rest and treat it like I should, it’s been tough.
Q. What has to happen for the team to be better after the break?
A. First and foremost, if we had our All-Star center, things would be a little different. But we have got to work with what we’ve got. We’ve got to be more together. There has been a little separation, especially towards the break. I’m sure we will get that cohesiveness back and try to make this late push to position ourselves for the playoffs.
Q. It seems like defense generally hasn’t been the problem, it’s the offense.
A. That’s just getting good ball movement and getting guys good shots. At times we do it, at times we don’t. It has to be on a consistent basis if we want to compete with the best teams in the East.
Q. What is the chemistry like now? It seems like when the losing started, things started to fray.
A. The chemistry, it’s definitely tough when we start losing. You can probably read guys’ body language. It’s something we really have to work on as a team, especially myself. I know when things start to go a little sour for us we all tend to hang our heads a little bit. I am sure coming down the stretch we will all pick up our play and get back to playing how we were when Al first went out.
Q. You mentioned working with that you’ve got. Does that also mean not worrying about if there will be any moves made before the deadline?
A. We can’t even worry about that. Once you start worrying about that, it makes things even worse. We have just got to work with what we’ve got and try to make the best of what we’ve got.
Q. What have you doing this weekend?
A. I’ve just been chilling. To be honest, I haven’t done nothing. Sitting at the crib and with ice and stim all day yesterday. My days have been pretty boring.
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat