Vivlamore reporting from Memphis.
Devin Harris is no longer settling for his jump shot. That’s the difference in his play of late, according the Hawks guard.
While Harris has been slowed by knee and toe injuries early this season, he insists that has not been an issue. He just needed a little time to learn his role and get comfortable with his new teammates.
“Now, I’m making a conscious effort of getting into the paint, finishing and doing what I’ve done before to be successful,” Harris said. “I just needed to re-start.”
Harris has started the past four games, including Saturday’s game against the Grizzlies, at shooting guard in place of Kyle Korver.
Larry Drew is seeing the play from Harris that made him an All-Star and had the coach eager to install his up-tempo offense.
“You are starting to see some of the old Devin,” Drew said. “He is getting in the lane. In transition he’s going coast to coast. He is starting to really get in real good basketball shape. With he and Jeff (Teague) both on the floor, or Lou (Williams), it allows us to play totally different because we have two guys who can really break the defense down and that you have to be concerned with going from coast to coast. Yeah, we’ll be smaller but our strength is going to be able to play in the open court. When he’s healthy he makes us much better.”
Harris had season-highs with 15 points and six assists in Friday’s victory over the Wizards. Two of his baskets were driving layups. Harris had 12 points against the Nuggets, including three layups, and 13 points against the Cavaliers, including five layups.
Pushing the tempo is Job No. 1 of Harris – that instruction coming from Drew.
“He tells me when I’m in there my job is to get everybody to run with me,” Harris said. “My job is to push the pace. Obviously, when different guys come in we play different ways but when I’m in there my job is to push the pace.
“I just needed a couple games to focus on how I could be effective with the guys on the court.”
In other news:
* The Hawks started their big lineup against the Grizzlies Saturday, in part because of the matchups and in part because DeShawn Stevenson likely would not play in the second of back-to-back games. Zaza Pachulia, Al Horford, Josh Smith, Teague and Harris started. Stevenson dressed but wasn’t expected to play in the continuing effort to rest the veteran in such situations.
* Korver remained in Atlanta, missing his fourth game, as he continued rehabilitation from back spasms. Drew said Korver would not join the team in time for Monday’s game against the Heat. He said there is a “chance” Korver could join the team in Orlando for a practice Tuesday and game Wednesday.
“The back is feeling better but he has to get in basketball shape,” Drew said.
* Drew said the Grizzlies, the top team in the Western Conference, present a number of issues for the Hawks.
“They are a good basketball team,” Drew said. “They really play well at home. Rudy Gay can really score the basketball. They have a solid inside game with Zach Randolph. Marc Gasol has really come into his own as one of the better big men in the league. Mike Conley is really terrific point guard, really good in the open court, really good off pick and rolls. They are a good team.”
Smith will match up with Gay to start the game.
- Chris Vivlamore