UPDATE: I’m told that Josh Smith and Lou Williams will play tonight vs. Blazers.
Vivlamore reporting from Portland.
Josh Smith and Lou Williams are questionable for tonight’s game against the Trail Blazers. Each was sick Monday. While they participated in the team’s walk-through practice at the Rose Garden they were sent home early.
Coach Larry Drew said he will wait to see how each was doing later in the day before making a decision on their playing status. I will update you on their conditions prior to game time.
In other items:
* DeShawn Stevenson will play, and likely start, against the Blazers at small forward. Stevenson sat out Sunday’s game at the Clippers. Stevenson, a 13-year veteran, told me he did not play because of the back-to-back games situation.
Drew confirmed Monday that he does not want to overwork Stevenson and his aging knees.
“We are going to play it by ear but for the most part he won’t be playing back-to-backs,” Drew said. “One thing we really want to make sure we do is keep a close eye on him and his knees. There may be some cases where he may be able to play some back-to-backs. Right now, it’s out of the question.”
Drew said he planned ahead with the team’s schedule and wanted to use Stevenson against the Blazers.
“On this particular road trip, I thought tonight’s game was a game we really need him,” Drew said.
* The Hawks will likely start a lineup of Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver at guard, Stevenson and Smith (if he is able) at forward and Al Horford at center. Anthony Tolliver will start at power forward if Smith can’t play.
* Anthony Morrow also did not play Sunday, one game after he scored 17 points off the bench against the Heat. Drew said he had a determined rotation for the Clippers game and Morrow was not in the plan. Once the game got out of hand in the fourth quarter, he didn’t want to use Morrow in such a situation.
“I’m going to play him when I feel it’s a game that I really want to use him in,” Drew said. “Going into last night’s game, I already had my mind made up on the rotation that I did want to use. I didn’t want to throw him in there when the game is out of reach. I don’t want to do that.
“There are going to be some games when I’m going to be using him, particularly in needing his offense. We started with the big lineup last night. We got good mileage out of bringing Lou (Williams) and Devin (Harris) off the bench and trying to keep a big three position-wise out on the floor.
“I couldn’t find minutes for him in last night’s game. I am aware of the productivity he has brought when he’s been in there. He’ll be playing more.”
* Drew finally got a chance to use rookies John Jenkins and Mike Scott Sunday with the Hawks trailing by 20 points late in the game. They played the final 3:48 of the contest.
“Both guys, I’ve always said, bring an NBA skill to the table,” Drew said. “I understand they are going to be a little rusty because they have not been playing. I still love my rookies. I think both of those guys are going to find minutes and have a really bright future in this league.”
Scott said he was happy to make his NBA debut. His only regret was missing his two shot attempts. Jenkins finished with six points, going 2-for-4 from the field and hitting two free throws.
- Chris Vivlamore