Vivlamore reporting from Hawks practice.
Upon returning to practice after Wednesday’s 101-99 exhibition loss at San Antonio, it’s clear the team is still working out defensive issues.
“We spent 90 percent of our practice just going over some defensive situations that we didn’t do a good job with in San Antonio,” coach Larry Drew following Friday’s practice. “We watched film this morning and made some corrections. We want the focus on getting back to what we’ve done the first week of training camp as far as transition defense, our pick-and-roll coverages, our play in the post, our weak-side help. All those things we want to get back to and get the guys’ minds trained to do it one way. Clearly, particularly that first half, we didn’t do a good job with that.”
The Spurs, playing without Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, shot 51.9 percent from the field in the victory.
“It was the most glaring issue I had,” Drew said of the defensive issues. “I told the guys at halftime, all the things we spent working on the first week of training camp and then we come down to San Antonio and it’s like we haven’t been together. That was a little bit discouraging. We are a team that will have to continue to learn along the way. The things that we have implemented thus far, we can’t go into games and just lose focus on. I thought we did that the first half against San Antonio.”
In other practice news:
* Devin Harris (knee) and Zaza Pachulia (groin) were full participants. DeShawn Stevenson (swollen knee) was limited.
* The Hawks’ roster stands at 17 players following the release of forward/center Keith Benson and guard Isma’il Muhammad Thursday.
Here is what Drew said about the roster moves: “It’s just one of those situations where we have to get our numbers down gradually. Both guys we brought in camp and we’re very excited about bringing both of those guys in. Benson has been here before, has some length and is long around the basket. He can block shots and I really wanted to take another look at him. I really thought he improved from a year ago. Ish Muhammad, I watched a lot of him all summer from our pick-up games. He just plays hard. He gets after it and makes it hard for the opposition. I thought both of those guys would be very good in our camp. They both did a pretty good job it was just unfortunate that we had to get our numbers down and we’ll continue to have to get our numbers down. Therefore, we made our first two cuts.”
I asked Drew if he thought Benson needed another season in the NBA Development League or is he NBA ready for another team.
“I think he probably needs another year in the D-League,” Drew said. “He’s made tremendous improvement from a year ago. He’s got size. He’s got length. He’s gotten stronger in a year’s time. Maybe more work down in the D-League where he can play every day in the post and not be with somebody and sit on the bench. I think he’s made tremendous strides.”
Drew said he has not yet decided when more roster moves will be made.
* Finally, I caught up with Stevenson today about the tweets he sent out the other day, apparently in reference to comments made by the Nets’ Deron Williams in an ESPN The Magazine article.
Williams told the magazine he didn’t expect to get frustrated with his teammates this season, as he often did last season. Williams said he was upset because players would often laugh in the locker room following losses.
Of several of Stevenson’s tweets were:
- “I hate Fake [expletive] That Quit on team but talk [expletive] to ESPN Mag.”
- “If u gonna say ppl Quit say Names I Don’t Quit I work hard period when u say that my name in it and I work hard I don’t quit!!!”
I asked Stevenson who his comments were intended for and he said the following: “If people know who I was talking about, if they don’t, they don’t. I’m done with it. I’m worried about the Atlanta Hawks right now. This group of guys. What I said is done with. If you know who I’m talking about, you do; if you don’t, you don’t.”
I then asked what was behind the tweets.
“I’m done with that,” Stevenson said. “I would never just say anything just to say it. I’m not that type of guy. I stand behind my teammates. If I played with you in the past beforehand, I’m just a stand-up guy. I won’t just say erratic things for no reason.
It should make for an interesting meeting with the Hawks and Nets play on Jan. 16 and 18.
- Chris Vivlamore
THE LATEST NEWS
Follow me on Twitter at ajchawks