By Michael Cunningham
The Hawks are back at Philips Arena to play the Magic tonight after a 2-2 West road trip during which a virus claimed several casualties among players and support personnel.
“It’s good to be home,” Jeff Teague said today after shootaround. “We were on the road for what felt like forever.”
“It’s good to be home, it really is,” coach Larry Drew said. “I think the guys are excited to be back home and I expect them to come out and play with a lot of energy.”
Atlanta should have all players available tonight except for maybe DeShawn Stevenson.
“I think everybody is OK,” Drew said. “DeShawn has been a little bit under the weather. He didn’t play Friday [at Sacramento] because of his back and yesterday he had a bit of the virus. He looks like he’s feeling a little but better but I don’t know his status until game time. Other than that, everyone is good.”
Stevenson is the latest Hawks player to catch the bug. It also affected Josh Smith, Al Horford, Devin Harris and Lou Williams during the trip.
Teague said there were other victims, too.
“It was tough,” Teague said. “I think everybody got a little piece of it. You had a headache or a little stomach ache. But guys fought through it against Portland. Josh and Lou were on IV’s in the back so to see them come out and play well, it was impressive.”
The Hawks (4-4) play seven of their next eight games at home, leaving only for the short hop to Charlotte on Friday. In addition to playing the Bobcats (4-4) and Wizards (0-8) twice during that stretch, the Hawks get the Magic (3-6), Clippers (7-2), Cavs (2-8), and Nuggets (4-6).
“You are just happy to be back home and able to take advantage of the opportunity ahead of us,” Horford said. “It starts tonight and that’s what we are focused on. . . . We have still yet to put together a very solid game all around. We are working on that. Hopefully we will get it started tonight.”
Al Harrington (knee) and Hedo Turkoglu (hand) are out for the Magic. J.J. Redick is questionable to play because of illness.
If Redick can’t go, E’Twaun Moore likely would start with rookie DeQuan Jones in line for more minutes.
“Obviously he’s a terrific shooter,” Drew said of Redick. “He can really stretch it to the three. It would be a big blow to them [if Redick can't play] but, in this league, one thing that I have found out when key players are out it gives [other] guys an opportunity to play and a chance to show they deserve minutes. On the other side, there could be a sort of mental letdown when you play against teams that lose key players. The thing I challenged our guys with is irregardless of who plays tonight we have to come out and be a team on a mission. We can’t have any mental letdowns.”