Vivlamore reporting. I’m back from Cleveland and ready for tonight’s game against the Pacers.
The Hawks will be without Josh Smith for tonight’s game against the Pacers due to a strained right hip flexor.
Smith experienced pain in the hip area on Friday and played for most of the game against the Cavaliers. However, he was unable to play in the fourth quarter.
Smith was still not moving well enough to play before Saturday’s game.
“As far as the severity, I don’t know but it’s sore,” coach Larry Drew said. “We finished our walk-through and he’s been having it treated. We wanted to see how he could move out of the floor. He wasn’t moving very well so we decided to shut him down for tonight.”
The Hawks will also be without Devin Harris (sore left foot) for the sixth straight game and Anthony Morrow (right hip strain). Morrow was injured in the first half against the Cavaliers and was unable to continue.
Al Horford (right hip contusion) will start. Ivan Johnson (stomach illness), who missed Friday’s game, will be available off the bench. Drew, however, said he would wait until the game to see if there were any limitations of the two.
* With Smith out, the Hawks will start Zaza Pachulia at center, with the 3-0 guard tandem of Jeff Teague and Lou Williams and Kyle Korver and Horford at forward.
Drew said he thought about going with a smaller lineup, by starting DeShawn Stevenson, but decided to match the height of the Pacers – 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert in particular.
“Roy Hibbert,” Drew said of the reason for a bigger lineup. “We went back and forth about going with the lineup that we have been using our last three wins (Williams at shooting guard). We’ve been going with a smaller lineup and had success with it. I had to make the decision to change it and match up with them. Now, with Josh out, it made my decision a little easier.”
* Drew also said he would likely play rookies John Jenkins and Mike Scott again tonight. Both played eight minutes against the Cavs with Jenkins scoring five points.
“There is a strong possibility they are going to get some more minutes tonight, I tell you that,” Drew said. “I think both guys are chomping at the bit. They want to be out there. They’ve been very patient through this process being rookies and not getting a lot of playing time.”
* Horford has struggled with his free-throw shooting at times this season so the Hawks center looked at video of a recent game to reveal what has been wrong.
Horford watched his attempts from Wednesday’s game against the Pistons, where he went 4 of 8 from the line. One of those attempts, if made, could have prevented overtime.
Horford said he discovered an issue with his release.
“Going back and looking at the (Pistons) game, I’ve gotten away from the little things that make a big difference with my release on the free throw,” Horford said after Friday’s victory over the Cavaliers. “I looked at it on video and there were some bad habits that I’ve fixed in the past but have crept up this year. It’s one of those things that I have to stay on top of and remember and when I do (it right) I feel really good.
“Now, it’s just a matter of I have to keep reminding myself to keep doing it the same way because it feels really good when I shoot it like that.”
Horford made both his free throws Friday night in Cleveland. The makes came with 34.6 seconds remaining and were part of a 9-0 Hawks’ run to close out the game.
For the season, Horford has made 51 of 87 attempts (.586).
Horford is far from the only Hawks player having trouble from the free-throw line this season. The Hawks entered Saturday’s game against the Pacers 28th in the NBA in free-throw shooting, converting just 71.9 percent of their attempts.
- Chris Vivlamore
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