Vivlamore reporting from Hawks practice.
The big question is the condition of Josh Smith and his sprained right ankle. Smith was a “limited” participant in practice Tuesday. Coach Larry Drew said the forward is still listed as day-to-day and a decision on his status for Wednesday’s game against the Pacers has not been determined.
I can tell you that following practice, Smith and Mike Scott spent between 10 and 15 minutes working together on their post-up and outside moves. They appeared to be going close to, if not at, full speed. I’m sure a lot will depend on how Smith’s ankle responds to Tuesday’s workout.
I will let you hear it from Smith himself. Here is a portion of the post-practice interview I did with him:
Q. How is the ankle?
A. “It feels good. We are still taking it day by day. We are not announcing anything right now but it feels good.
Q. When did you do it because you played the whole fourth quarter (against the Rockets)?
A. I did it early in the fourth when I contested a (James) Harden layup attempt and I came down on his foot. It was kind of a bang-bang play, it happened real quick, so I just tried to tighten my shoelaces up and grind though it but it was still painful to play. I just tried to continue to play because I thought we had an opportunity to win.
Q. When you took you shoe off it swelled?
A. Most definitely. You go to sleep and the next day it’s stiff and there is a different feeling.
Q. Did you watch the Thunder game?
A. Most definitely. I’m the biggest cheerleader when I’m not playing. I’m the number one fan.
Q. What were your thoughts about how they did without you?
A. They played outstanding. They moved the ball extremely well. We ran our offense hard. We helped each other out on the defensive end. We communicated. It was a beautiful thing to watch. I was kind of hoarse at the end because I was in my theatre room hollering and cheering those guys on. A couple guys got some texts from me about their performance. I was real excited.
Q. What did you see specifically that was the difference between the Rockets game and the Thunder game?
A. I think the head of the snake performed. He came out – I’m talking about Jeff Teague – he didn’t play a lackadaisical. He came in and played aggressive on the offensive end. I think it motivated everybody else coming off that bench. You could see it. Whenever he plays aggressive, like he knows how to play, and using his speed we are a tough team to beat.
* Guard Lou Williams left Tuesday’s practice with a migraine. It is not expected to affect his status for Wednesday’s game.
* Center Johan Petro, who missed both games and several practices with a sore back, returned to full contact Tuesday. Drew said Petro could play as the Hawks face the Pacers and center Roy Hibbert.
* Creighton University alums Kyle Korver and Anthony Tolliver started Sunday’s game against the Thunder. According to the Creighton athletic department it is the first time two Blue Jays started the same NBA game as teammates or opponents (research dates back to 1981-82).
* Not sure if I reported this before but the Hawks’ NBA Development League affiliate for the 2012-13 season will be the Bakersfield Jam. They will share with the Clippers, Suns and Raptors.
UPDATE:Below is the story of Smith’s status that I wrote for Wednesday’s print edition of the AJC.
Josh Smith watched – intently – as the Hawks won in Oklahoma City without him Sunday.
His sprained right ankle wasn’t the only thing worse for wear following the surprising 104-95 victory over the defending Western Conference champions.
“They played outstanding,” said Smith after a limited practice Tuesday. “They moved the ball extremely well. We ran our offense hard. We helped each other out on the defensive end. We communicated. It was a beautiful thing to watch. I was kind of hoarse at the end because I was in my theatre room hollering and cheering those guys on. A couple guys got some texts from me about their performance. I was real excited.”
Smith is still officially listed as day-to-day and questionable to return as the Hawks (1-1) host the Pacers (2-2) Wednesday at Philips Arena. Coach Larry Drew said the team will wait until Wednesday to make a determination of the star forward’s playing status. Smith sprained his ankle early in the fourth quarter of last week’s season-opening loss to the Rockets. He landed on the foot of James Harden while attempting to block a layup. Despite the injury, Smith played the rest of the game.
“It was kind of a bang-bang play, it happened real quick, so I just tried to tighten my shoelaces up and grind though it but it was still painful to play,” Smith said. “I just tried to continue to play because I thought we had an opportunity to win.”
The ankle swelled overnight preventing him from making the trip to Oklahoma City. Smith worked with trainers for most of Monday’s practice before returning for some drill work Tuesday. Smith said his ankle “feels good” but was not ready for an announcement on his status. He worked one-on-one with rookie Mike Scott for more than 10 minutes following Tuesday’s practice. The two appeared to work on post-up and outside moves, guarding each other, at close to, if not at, full speed.
Drew said the key to the win over the Thunder without Smith as the team’s rebounding effort and willingness to chase down 50-50 loose balls. The Hawks outrebounded the Thunder 37-36. The improvement came two days after they were outrebounded by the Rockets 58-36.
“The one thing that we can feel good about is we were able to go up to Oklahoma and win without Josh’s presence,” Drew said. “I think we have to feel good about that. Do we need him? Absolutely. Let’s not kid ourselves. I want our players to be in the mindset … that if one of their teammates is not able to play it gives somebody else an opportunity to step up and they have to be ready.”
Drew said one player won’t take Smith’s place. His scoring and rebounded must be replaced by committee. Anthony Tolliver started in Smith’s place against the Thunder. That would appear to be the case again if Smith can’t play against the Pacers. Smith, the Hawks’ leading scorer last season, had 18 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and two assists against the Rockets.
Smith said the clear difference between the two games was Jeff Teague. He called the point guard the ‘head of the snake.’ Teague finished with 16 points against the Thunder, including eight in the first quarter.
“He didn’t play a lackadaisical,” Smith said. “He came in and played aggressive on the offensive end. I think it motivated everybody else coming off that bench. You could see it. Whenever he plays aggressive, like he knows how to play, and using his speed we are a tough team to beat.”
Teague said the team’s response against the Thunder came from an overwhelming desire to put forth a better effort than the season-opener.
- Chris Vivlamore
Follow me on Twitter at ajchawks