Vivlamore reporting from Houston.
Josh Smith returned to the Hawks lineup Monday against the Rockets. The forward missed the team’s last game, a win over the Pacers Saturday, with a strained right hip flexor.
According to Smith the extra day of rest was beneficial.
“I’m going to play,” Smith said. “It always helps when you have an injury and you can get some extra treatment and extra therapy.”
But is Smith still in pain?
“I’m going to play,” he said. “I’m all right.”
The Hawks didn’t hold a shootaround Monday but Smith warmed up prior to the game and declared himself ready.
“Prior to our last game we wanted him to rest and treat it,” coach Larry Drew said. “It’s feeling better. We wanted to wait and see how he did when he got over to the gym today. He went out and warmed up and he felt pretty good.”
* With Smith back, the Hawks returned to a starting lineup of Jeff Teague and Lou Williams at guard, Kyle Korver and Smith at forward and Al Horford at center.
* Guard Devin Harris (sore left foot) and Anthony Morrow (right hip strain) did not travel with the team to Houston. According to Drew, they will also miss Tuesday’s game at New Orleans. They remain in Atlanta and a further evaluation will be made when the team returns.
* The Hawks will be looking to avenge their season-opening loss to the Rockets with James Harden went for 45 points. Williams will draw the initial defensive assignment on Harden.
Drew said the Hawks’ defensive lapses were the main issues in the 109-102 loss at Philips Arena.
“We are going to have to do a good job stopping dribble penetration,” Drew said. “That was the one thing that just killed us the last time we played this team. They just continually got to the basket. A lot of was just off of our pick-and-roll coverage. We didn’t do a good job on our pick-and-roll coverage. They are a team that plays a real up-tempo style, make or miss. Our last game they really pushed the ball down our throat. We didn’t get back and get matched (up defensively). It’s going to be important that we try to control the rhythm of this game and not try to get into a jump-shooting contest or run-and-shoot contest with this team. This team is built for that.”
* I asked Drew if he would take a different tactic with Harden considering his 45-point effort in November.
“I remember. Don’t remind me,” Drew said of Harden’s game. “We just have to be better with our defensive coverages. That’s where we had the breakdown. I think defensively we are in a better place that the first game of the season.”
* The Hawks will be looking to avenge another home loss with a win on the road. The Hawks defeated the Cavaliers Friday after Cleveland won at Philips Arena in November.
- Chris Vivlamore
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