Coach Larry Drew has changed the way he has used his bench during the Hawks’ current five-game win streak. No need to change what has worked he said Tuesday, a day before the Hawks host the Bobcats.
The notable changes have been an increased playing time for the starting unit, more minutes for Ivan Johnson and Anthony Morrow and a decrease in time for Anthony Tolliver.
Drew said the moves are a combination of a changing philosophy and the specific defensive matchups against each opponent.
Johnson is averaging 12.6 minutes and Morrow 12.0 minutes over the win streak, an increase from their early-season time. Tolliver has played under four minutes in the one game in the last five played.
“I used (Tolliver) a lot early and I wasn’t using Ivan at all or limited,” Drew said. “But Ivan has really been playing well. He’s been doing a good job for us coming off the bench bringing toughness, bringing energy. I’m going to stay with what’s working. I’ve already had a talk with Anthony. He’s aware of it. He knows he has to stay ready just in case.”
The Hawks’ bench has been outscored in each of the five wins. It’s a statistic that Drew can live with as long as the reserves bring a defensive presence first.
“Our bench ranks up there defensively,” Drew said. “As I’ve told them before, when they come into the game I want them to come in and think about defending first and then offense second.”
As a team, the Hawks lead the NBA is forced turnovers per game (18.0), are second in opponent field-goal percentage (.427), third in points allowed (92.1) and fifth in steals per game (8.9) and opponent 3-point field-goal percentage (.328).
Kyle Korver (stiff back) and Devin Harris (toe) did not practice Tuesday. Drew said there was no need for Korver to aggravate his back at a practice. Drew also said Harris is “feeling much, much better” and expects the guard to play Wednesday after missing last week’s game against the Clippers.
Josh Smith (sore knee) was a limited practice participant and will play against the Bobcats.
In the Hawks’ five-game win streak, they have beaten teams with a combined record of 24-41 (going into Tuesday’s NBA schedule). Only the Clippers, at 8-6, are above .500.
ESPN adds game
The Hawks game against the Nuggets on Wednesday, Dec. 5 will now be televised by ESPN and the game time changed to 8 p.m. The game was originally a 7:30 p.m. start. The network dropped the Bulls at Cavs game that night.
Also, ESPN will not broadcast the Feb. 20 game against the Heat. The network will instead broadcast the Hornets at Cavs game.
Game time for the Hawks-Heat will remain 8 p.m. The game is currently not scheduled to be televised. However, it’s under consideration by SportSouth to add the game.
The first voting update for the NBA All-Star Game will be Dec. 13.
Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Smith are the Hawks’ representatives on the ballot for the game to be played in Houston on Feb. 17. Balloting ends Jan. 14 and the starters will be announced Jan. 17 on TNT. Voting began Nov. 13.
- Chris Vivlamore