Vivlamore reporting with your game thread blog for tonight’s contest against the Bobcats.
Al Horford, the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, appreciates the honor but quickly turned the focus to his team Wednesday.
“I think it’s pretty cool but it just shows that when you win you put yourself in a position for things like this,” Horford said following shoot-around prior to tonight’s game against the Bobcats. “It was a good thing, but it was obviously because of our winning streak.”
Horford averaged 16.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.0 blocks in the four games of the week of Nov. 19-25.
Horford is also one of three Hawks on the NBA All-Star ballot. After being an All-Star for two straight years, Horford missed last year’s game with a torn pectoral muscle. The center quickly turned a question about his desire to return to the All-Star game to focus on the team goal.
“I think it’s nice when you get recognition like that but, I think most important for us, we want to be winning and be one of those top teams and keep that going,” Horford said. “I think that all that will take care of itself, whether I should be or shouldn’t be. I think we just have to keep winning and get better as a team.”
Horford said he had no problem with the league’s decision to put front-court players on the All-Star ballot and not break them down into center and forward positions.
* On the injury front, Kyle Korver (back) is a go and will be in the starting lineup. Korver missed Tuesday’s practice with a stiff back but was a full participant in Wednesday’s shoot-around. Devin Harris (turf toe) will likely play but is being called a game-time decision. He will be examined by the training staff prior to the game before a final decision is made. He is was full participant in the shoot-around.
* Other starters are Jeff Teague, DeShawn Stevenson, Josh Smith and Horford. It’s the same starting lineup coach Larry Drew used in last week’s 101-91 win at Charlotte.
“It gives us a chance to have size on them at the 2 and the 3 spot,” Drew said. “Both (their) guys, (Jeff) Taylor and (Michael Kidd-)Gilchrist, are extremely athletic. But I do like from a size standpoint that we are able to match up against them.”
* The Bobcats are coming off their worst defeat in franchise history in Monday’s 114-69 loss at the Thunder. Hawks coaches and players expect a feisty Bobcats team aimed at bouncing back from the miserable defeat.
“Don’t buy into that this team is going to come in flat, particularly after a loss like that,” Drew said he told his team. “… I would expect them to be even more energized just to prove that the game they had the other night was just one of those games.”
* The Hawks are concerned about Bobcats guard Ramon Sessions, who scored a team-high 22 points in their meeting last week.
“He hurt us up there,” Drew said. “He came into the game and really pushed the basketball and got into the paint and drew fouls. He’s really good at drawing fouls and getting to the free-throw line. One of our points of emphasis was to keep them off the free-throw line as much as we can. Sessions gets in there and he has that uncanny ability to get in there and draw fouls.
“That’s something that we have to be conscious about defending. We did not do a good job up there with him. I went back and looked at the game and we did not do a good job. This was after made baskets. We had ample time to get back and get our defense matched up.”
* The Hawks’ five-game winning streak is their longest since Jan. 2-12, 2011. They had a high of four straight wins (twice) last season. If they defeat the Bobcats for the sixth straight win tonight it will match the six wins to start the 2010-11 season (Oct. 27-Nov. 5, 2010). The last seven-game win streak? Nov. 7-20, 2009.
- Chris Vivlamore