Vivlamore back from Oklahoma and reporting from Hawks practice.
Right now, the fourth quarter belongs to Lou Williams.
That could change. Hawks coach Larry Drew insists playing time down the stretch of games, particularly among the depth of guards, will be determined by who has the hot hand that night.
Williams has been the team’s go-to guy late in the first two games for the Hawks (1-1). He has played every fourth-quarter minute and scored 27 of his 41 points (66 percent) in the final stanzas. In those two periods he is a combined 7-for-17 from the field and 11-for-11 from the free-throw line.
“I just want to be in the rotation,” Williams said. “That’s my main thing. As long as I’m on the court, I just try to maximize the minutes I get and make everything happen that I can.”
He may not start, but Williams has certainly been on the court when it mattered most.
Williams scored a team-high 22 points in the season opening loss the Rockets, with 13 points coming in the final quarter. His 22 points were the second-highest total for a player coming off the bench in his Hawks debut since the team moved to Atlanta in 1968, trailing only Tom Van Arsdale’s 23-point effort versus Portland in 1974.
In Sunday’s victory over the Thunder, Williams scored 19 points, scoring 14 of the Hawks’ final 23 points.
“We decided to ride Lou’s hot hand,” Drew said following Sunday’s game. “He made some really good baskets.”
In the win over the Thunder, Drew said he considered re-inserting starters Jeff Teague, who finished with 16 points, and Kyle Korver back in the game. Williams’ hot hand made Drew reconsider.
“From a coaching standpoint, you are going to ride the hot hand,” Drew said. “I don’t care who it is. In a situation where somebody is playing well, somebody is in a rhythm, somebody is having a good quarter you ride that. I don’t think there is any coach who would not do that. The last thing you want to do is disrupt flow.”
Williams, the runner-up for the NBA’s Sixth Man award last season, leads the Hawks is many statistical categories. He is first in scoring average (20.5), points (41), field goals attempted (31), free throws made (14), free throws attempted (16) and steals (five, tied with Teague). He is second in assists (nine). Despite coming off the bench, Williams is third in minutes played (58), behind Al Horford (71) and DeShawn Stevenson (63) and in field goals made (12).
“That is fine,” Teague said of Williams’ playing time late. “We are all here to win. Whatever we have to do to get a win, we are all with that. Lou had is going (Sunday) and we were all rooting for him. We were all excited to get a win. There are going to be nights like that. I might have it going. Lou. Devin (Harris). It doesn’t matter. We all want to win. We are all Hawks. It doesn’t matter who is playing.”
*Josh Smith, who missed Sunday’s game with a sprained right ankle, did not practice Monday but worked on the side with the team’s training staff. Drew said Smith did some shooting. Drew did not know whether Smith could return for Wednesday’s home game against the Pacers, calling the forward day-to-day.
* Backup center Johan Petro (back) also did not practice.
* Drew said he did not feel that Korver, who is 1-for-8 from the field in his first two games, is pressing. “I just think he is trying to find his rhythm,” Drew said. “We are only two games into the season. … One thing about shooters, they know they can have two bad games but they know they can come back and have five good games in a row.”
* Stevenson, Teague and Williams finally allowed rookie John Jenkins to compete in their post-practice 3-point shooting competition. Stevenson won the first game but Jenkins was a clear winner in the second.
- Chris Vivlamore
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