Vivlamore reporting from Hawks practice.
The Hawks try for their eighth win in nine games Friday against the Wizards, a team they barely defeated during the recent stretch.
The Hawks won a 101-100 decision over the then-winless Wizards on Nov. 21 on a last second 3-pointer. The Wizards won their second game on Tuesday by defeating the defending NBA champion Heat. That game is a point of emphasis for Hawks coach Larry Drew.
“The team that we played weeks ago, they are not the same team,” Drew said. “They are much better basketball team right now. You can see the way they play. They feel much better about themselves. They come off of a big win against Miami. They took us down to the wire. Under no circumstances can we look at this team’s record and underestimate this team.”
A new addition
Kyle Korver and his wife, Juliet, became parents on Wednesday with the birth of their daughter. Baby Kyra Elyse and mother Juliet are healthy after a birthing process that took more than a day, Korver said.
“It’s emotionally draining,” Korver said Thursday. “You watch your wife battle. She was grinding for a long time, 30 hours. You want to make it better but you can’t really do that so you just hold her hand and tell her she is amazing.”
Korver was not with the team on Wednesday for their 108-104 victory over the Nuggets after the labor process began Tuesday. Both sets of parents arrived in Atlanta Thursday to greet their granddaughter.
Korver has been out with back spasms and hasn’t played or practiced since coming out of the Nov. 28 game against the Bobcats in the third quarter. Korver said he is feeling “much better.” Having not played in more than a week, Korver is doubtful for Friday’s game against the Wizards.
The Hawks were thin for Thursday’s practice without Devin Harris, DeShawn Stevenson and Korver. Harris injured his left ankle in the second quarter against the Nuggets. He was re-taped during halftime and returned for the entire second half. Stevenson was rested.
Through 15 games, the Hawks (10-5) are third in the Eastern Conference behind only the Knicks (13-4) and the Heat (12-4), who will play Thursday.
“I know a lot of people didn’t think we would be where we are at this point,” Drew said. “Me personally, I didn’t give it much thought. I just knew what I had to do as a coach as far as getting this team prepared and getting all these guys on the same page as fast as I could given all the new faces.”
The Hawks lead the NBA in fast break points (17.4) and forced turnovers (18.1), are third in assists (23.5) and steals (9.4), sixth in points allowed (94.2) and opponent field goal percentage (.432) and ninth in points in the paint (42.7).
The Hawks lost a seven-point fourth-quarter lead in Wednesday’s win over the Nuggets. They also could not hold a nine-point lead in a loss to the Cavaliers Friday, which snapped a six-game win streak.
Drew said his team has room for improvement in the final quarter, particularly on the defensive end.
“I think we are playing OK,” Drew said. “… I know I sound like a broken record with this defensive stuff. My whole thing, as I told our guys, we are looked at as a team that is just going to play offense. We are looked at as a team that has guys who can shoot the ball and are going to score. Me personally, I want to change that perception. In talking to them, they want to do the same.”
- Chris Vivlamore