Larry Drew didn’t like the way Jeff Teague was playing. So the Hawks coach let his point guard know about it.
During halftime of last week’s lopsided loss at the 76ers, Drew pulled Teague aside to hammer home the message that he needed more energy from the position. The following night, Teague set the tone early in a lopsided win over the Bulls. Next, Teague scored nine points in double overtime en route to a Hawks victory Wednesday over the Pistons that came after a blown 22-point fourth-quarter lead.
“When he’s not bringing the energy, it’s my job to let him know,” Drew said. “I told him he was not bringing energy. For whatever reason, it was not there and he needed to bring it. He didn’t have a good night that night but he came back the following night against Chicago and I thought he played much, much better.
“It all starts with him. … That point guard position is a very high energized position. I’ve made him aware of it and I’ll continue to make him aware of it. I need energy from that spot. When he brings it, he makes us an effective ball club.”
The Hawks (17-9) will need similar energy from Teague in Friday’s game at the Cavaliers (7-23). It was the Cavaliers who erased a nine-point fourth-quarter lead in a 113-111 victory over the Hawks on Nov. 30 at Philips Arena. The winning points came on Alonzo Gee’s put-back with four-tenths of a second remaining.
In snapping the Hawks’ six-game win streak, the Cavaliers played without point guard Kylie Irving, out with a broken finger. He’s back now. Irving figures to give the Hawks more fits with his ability to dribble penetrate, an issue for the Hawks in the first meeting even without the start guard.
“Easier said than done,” Teague said of the task of slowing Irving. “He’s really talented. He can make shots. He can do a lot with the basketball. Try to go out there, keep a lot of bodies in his face, make him see a wall of defenders in transition and try to go at him at the offensive end.”
Teague had five points and three assists in the loss to the 76ers. He came back with 11 points and eight assists against the Bulls and a double-double of 17 points and 11 assists against the Pistons.
“I’ve tried to make a conscious effort to come out with a lot of energy and push the basketball and playing a more up-tempo style,” Teague said of the past two games. “I think that gets everybody going.”
The Hawks insist they don’t view Friday’s game with a revenge factor. Although the Cavaliers snapped a win streak, the Hawks escaped with a couple of victories in the run. They included a last-second victory over the Wizards and a three-point win over the Bobcats.
“It’s just about getting a win,” center Al Horford said. “Obviously, we dodged some bullets here at home from some other teams. We kind of felt we were living on the edge a little bit and one was going to catch up with us. Cleveland got us that night. It’s about us going up there and getting a win.”
Practice update: Guard Devin Harris will miss his fifth straight game with a sore left foot as he did not travel with the Hawks to Cleveland. Harris was a limited participant in Thursday’s practice.
Josh Smith remains eighth among Eastern Conference frontcourt players in NBA All-Star fan balloting released by the league Thursday. Smith has 111,260 votes. He is behind Joakim Noah (129,331) and ahead of Anderson Varejao (99,955).
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