Vivlamore reporting from Oklahoma City following the Hawks’ shoot-around prior to tonight’s game against the Thunder.
* As we reported yesterday, Josh Smith is not on the trip with a sprained right ankle. Coach Larry Drew said he noticed Smith limping during Friday’s season-opener against the Rockets. The forward did play all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter.
“It was a little sore (Saturday),” Drew said. “I know he got it treated. We made the decision to leave him back and get it treated. Our focus was to get him ready for Wednesday’s game.”
Drew said he is “hoping” Smith will be ready for the game against the Pacers but his status will depend on how he feels and the doctor’s report.
* Anthony Tolliver will start in Smith’s place. The rest of the starting lineup will be Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, DeShawn Stevenson and Al Horford. Stevenson will draw the early assignment of Thunder star Kevin Durant, although Tolliver will match up against him as well.
“Like we’ve always done when we played him, we’ll give him different looks,” Drew said of the matchup against Durant. “We don’t just lock into him with one guy. Chances are we’ll give him some different looks. Tolliver can be matched on him some. DeShawn (Stevenson) can be matched on him some. Kyle (Korver) can be matched on him some. We’ll just have to see what is working good for us but we have to give him some different looks.”
* Tolliver said he is up for the challenge, a position he will find himself in from time to time with his ability to play both forward positions.
Tolliver said the Hawks learned a valuable lesson following their season-opening loss to the Rockets, a game in which they were outrebounded 58-36.
“I think we proved to ourselves that when we really focus in we can be really good. And when we don’t focus in we can be really bad. As much bad went down in that game, we still were right there and had chances to win. Take away a few of the bonehead plays and we have a chance to win that game if not win it.”
* Al Horford said the Hawks watched a lot of film from the loss to the Rockets.
“Being the first game, and a new team, we really weren’t on the same page,” Horford said. “It’s going to take us a few games to get going but I hope today we do a much better job of that.”
As the 0-3 Lakers can attest, it can take time for teams to gel after an offseason of multiple moves. Horford said the difference will come on the defensive end.
* After doing film work of Friday’s loss, Drew said the rebounding issue was not a scheme issue.
“It was just not a good job of rebounding,” Drew said. “That shot went up and we did not seek bodies to box out. The perimeters did not do a good job of chasing down the long rebounds. We went through that whole thing to see where the rebounds were coming from. It had nothing to do with rotations. It had nothing to do with our defensive schemes. We did not do a good job of boxing out and pursuing the ball.”
* Anthony Morrow and Ivan Johnson, along with rookies John Jenkins and Mike Scott, did not play in the season opener. Drew said it was due to a combination of matchups and rotation.
“First of all we can’t play everybody,” Drew said. “That particular game, being the first game, I wanted to look at some specific matchups. We’ll see how it goes. I can’t play 11 or 12 guys. I just can’t do it. I’ve got to really look and play the guys who are going to be in the rotation. The other guys, as I’ve told them, are going to have to stay ready.”
- Chris Vivlamore