Game thread: Hawks shake it up with bigger lineup (updated)

Vivlamore reporting from Cleveland.

The Hawks will start a bigger lineup tonight versus the Cavaliers – in part because of matchups and in part to shake up a struggling team that has lost three straight and four of five games.

The Hawks will start Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, Josh Smith, Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia.

“We want to shake it up a little bit and see if it will jump start us,” coach Larry Drew said.

Drew said the biggest reason was the matchup at shooting guard. The Cavaliers are starting 6-foot-6, 222-pound C.J. Miles at the 2-guard and he is too big for one of the smaller Hawks guards like Lou Williams or Devin Harris.

(UPDATE: C.J. Miles (back strain) and Daniel Gibson (concussion) are out.)

* Harris has been medically cleared to play and you can expect to see him get limited minutes after he has missed the past 11 game with a sore left foot.

* Anthony Morrow will miss his seventh straight game. He missed five games with a right hip strain and now two games with a stiff back.

* DeShawn Stevenson is doubtful after he played 5:17 in Tuesday’s loss to the Timberwolves. Stevenson has not scored in 2013 in limited action as the team continues to be careful with his aging knees.

“He is good,” Drew said. “We said it from the very beginning that it’s going to be important that we try to keep him healthy. We don’t want to put too much wear and tear on his knees. We’ll see how he is doing the first night of a back-to-back and if we get medical clearance from the doctors that we can play him a little bit the first night and a little bit the second night we’ll do that. But we’ll wait until we get clearance from the doctors.”

* Ivan Johnson continues to be used sparingly this season. He has played a total of 28 minutes the past five games, including a DNP in the loss to the T’Wolves.

I asked Drew what it would take for Johnson to get more playing time, especially when at times this season the coach has said the Hawks have lacked a physical presence.

“I’m always looking at matchups,” Drew said. “I’m looking at the rhythm of the game. I’m looking at who I feel that can probably serve us best in a certain position. Certainly (Johnson) brings a physicality to the lineup and in this situation he just has to stay ready. He has to stay ready that if his number is called he’s ready to respond.”

* I asked Drew how the team responded to his comments following Tuesday’s loss that the team played “soft” in the first half against the T’Wolves.

“We had a breakfast meeting today and watch some clips from last night’s game,” Drew said. “Hopefully it will sink in. After they’ve seen the clips that I pulled, I think they were in agreement that we just came out way too soft, way too tentative, low energy. Everybody was in total agreement. There was a clear contrast between the first half and the second half. You can’t spot teams like that on the road. You have to exert too much energy to get back into it. We did not get off to a good start. That second half we played with more energy, more sense of urgency. Hopefully we’ll get off to a good start.”

* Josh Smith will be an on-set guest of  NBA TV’s NBA Game Time Thursday night at 7 p.m. Smith will join host Vince Cellini and analysts Dennis Scott and Michael Redd.

* The Cavaliers lost the NBA’s leading rebounder Anderson Varejao for 6-8 weeks after the center underwent knee surgery Wednesday.

- Chris Vivlamore

LATEST NEWS

* Timberwolves 108, Hawks 103

* Morrow out vs. T’Wolves with back stiffness

* Ferry fined $15,000 by NBA

* Stevenson weighs in on back-to-backs situation

* Celtics 89, Hawks 81

* Stevenson needs medical clearance to play back-t0-back

* Pistons 85, Hawks 84

* Hawks wary of Pistons’ bench

* Rematch with Pistons awaits

* Williams to remain in starting lineup

* Behind the scenes photo gallery

* Drew named Eastern Conference Coach of the Month

* Drew looking for more minutes for Jenkins

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @AJCHAWKS

381 comments Add your comment

Rod from College Park

January 9th, 2013
6:25 pm

“I asked Drew what it would take for Johnson to get more playing time, especially when at times this season the coach has said the Hawks have lacked a physical presence.”

“I’m always looking at matchups,” Drew said. “I’m looking at the rhythm of the game. I’m looking at who I feel that can probably serve us best in a certain position. Certainly (Johnson) brings a physicality to the lineup and in this situation he just has to stay ready. He has to stay ready that if his number is called he’s ready to respond.”

He still has not answered the question. What makes the rookie Mike Scott a better option than Ivan?

Jamaaliver

January 9th, 2013
6:26 pm

One game late. We needed this lineup chg against the Wolves…

Rod from College Park

January 9th, 2013
6:27 pm

C Viv,

He’s slippery. Keep asking him the right questions. Great job.

LouWill83

January 9th, 2013
6:29 pm

Larry Drew just made the biggest mistake that will get him the ultimate firing bullet. He Benched the most skilled offensive player on this ball club, basically shutting his confidence down. You idiot, either keep him in his role from the start as a 6th man or stick with him as a starter. You are juggling the wrong people. The reason we are losing isnt because lou is starting its because your bigs are inconsistent. Bench Horford for all I care but dont put on the bench the only player that can lead this team back to form.

hot.trod.87

January 9th, 2013
6:30 pm

Lou Williams back to the bench. the only consistent offense. thought Devin Harris was starting. He needs to earn his 8 million and increase his value to he can get shipped off

hot.trod.87

January 9th, 2013
6:37 pm

THE ONLY guard giving you consistent offense is benched for Teague who has been slumping since December. take Lou out of the 6th Man of the Year awards by starting him. take Jenkins out of the Rookie of the Year Award by not not playing him. Not putting the players in position to win any awards

Mookie Paylock

January 9th, 2013
6:37 pm

Teague must play better, run the offense from inside out, and push the ball as much as possible. All those elements combine should mean easy win for hawks tonight.

Sautee

January 9th, 2013
6:39 pm

“I asked Drew what it would take for Johnson to get more playing time, especially when at times this season the coach has said the Hawks have lacked a physical presence.”

“I’m always looking at matchups,” Drew said. “I’m looking at the rhythm of the game. I’m looking at who I feel that can probably serve us best in a certain position. Certainly (Johnson) brings a physicality to the lineup and in this situation he just has to stay ready. He has to stay ready that if his number is called he’s ready to respond.”

Maybe instead of matchups, you should play players who will actually rebound. Idgit.

northcyde

January 9th, 2013
6:42 pm

Ivan Johnson continues to be used sparingly this season. He has played a total of 28 minutes the past five games, including a DNP in the loss to the T’Wolves.

I asked Drew what it would take for Johnson to get more playing time, especially when at times this season the coach has said the Hawks have lacked a physical presence.

“I’m always looking at matchups,” Drew said. “I’m looking at the rhythm of the game. I’m looking at who I feel that can probably serve us best in a certain position. Certainly (Johnson) brings a physicality to the lineup and in this situation he just has to stay ready. He has to stay ready that if his number is called he’s ready to respond.”

**********************

1st off . . . thank you C-Viv for asking Drew about Ivan.

2nd . . . what a crock of (( bleep )) from Drew. He has to “stay ready”? How about YOU have to call his number for him to go into the game, instead of messing around with other people like Tolliver, Mike Scott, and ( insert a guard too small or weak to guard SFs ).

Let’s see if Ivan plays tonight, after Chris has asked him the “Ivan question”.

LOL @ “stay ready”. Like Ivan is in the National Guard or something. I guess like the Guard, he’s only going to play 1 weekend games a month, or two weeks full of games per year.

Colin

January 9th, 2013
6:44 pm

For everyone who said Lou is “out of the running for 6th man of the year”, you only need to come off the bench for more games than you start. He can still very well win it.

vava74

January 9th, 2013
6:44 pm

What a F€&@ing moron!

LD couldn’t “see” a matchup (favourable/unfavourable) the size of an elephant… What f&%#ing favourable matchup were you looking for when Al was being abused by Pekovic and KK by Pierce?

Swingman912

January 9th, 2013
6:45 pm

lets see what being called soft does to em. As men, they gotta stand up

Astro Joe

January 9th, 2013
6:46 pm

There’s a great word straight from Looney Tunes… IDGIT. Well played.

I’m glad LD decided not to punish individual players but instead opted for a line-up that should be able to compete early (and on the road). Let’s hope that Teague takes this vote of confidence (and that is a by-product of this move) and breaks out of his slump.

HueyFreeman

January 9th, 2013
6:50 pm

C-Viv

Continue to probe him. That was a sorry excuse of an answer. LD obviously is aware that he’s contributing to the “soft” label of our team by not playing the 1 guy with the same kind of heart and fight we needed not just last night, but alot of this season.

KK has proven his lack of defensive prowess, as great of a shooter as he is. Ivan or Josh are better defenders at the 3 or 4. Even Jenkins has had some solid defensive sequences. But leaving KK on Andrei last night was a mistake, as was not playing Ivan, not starting Zaza, and having Horford against Pekovic when Zaza is clearly a better matchup.

Defense needs to pick up, too many breakdowns on D. Too much help and not enough rotating after said help. If you’re going to help out on D and leave your man, be smart about it. Josh has too high of a defensive IQ to be leaving his man open for wide open 3 trying to help. Lastly, glad to see JJ12 getting his PT finally. But in what universe should Anthony Tolliver and Mike Scott enter the game ahead of Ivan Johnson?

LD worries about matching up instead of making the other team adjust. The most intimidating and physical player on our roster has been rotting on the bench all season. He have enough 6′8+ jumpshooting bigs already. 3 games in a row last due to inept coaching and lineup management. Ask LD what’s up with that C-Viv. I would love to know what LD has to say about obvious things he refuses to see/change/adjust but we are all aware of here.

Swingman912

January 9th, 2013
6:52 pm

as for the Ivan Johnson comments….I’ve seen during EVERY GAME we’ve lost where Ivans physicality was needed. so LD…you sound like you dont know what youre doing

Duluth Joe

January 9th, 2013
6:53 pm

“He still has not answered the question. What makes the rookie Mike Scott a better option than Ivan?”

Rod from College Park, There is no answer to this question. No logical answer.

What is even more puzzling, is that tonight was a good night (with Anderson Varejao out) to go small. But we do the reverse.

Buddy Grizzard

January 9th, 2013
6:54 pm

“Keep asking him the right questions. Great job.”

Co-sign.

LouWill83

January 9th, 2013
6:54 pm

You Dont shake your line up against the EFFEN CAVALIERS, You Win with Offense against those scrubs and that means Lou Williams. You scared of CJ MILES NOW??? COME ON…If you wanted to juggle your lineup because of matchups you would have done it against the celtics or when horford was being abused by Pekovic not against this team. You only doing this because you lost 3 straight and you need to blame someone you idiot. You Suck and you have 0 Credibility its not even real anymore.. I realise this is the NBA and when Teams win its the players and when teams lose its the coaches. THIS IS THE ONLY TEAM IN THE LEAGUE WHERE THIS IS TRUE!! FIRE LARRY DREW TODAY, FIRE HIM TODAY FIRE HIM TODAY

MattP

January 9th, 2013
6:57 pm

LMAO, Drew still saying the same thing about not playing Ivan. Everyone and I mean everyone knows that matchup is the dumbest reason not to play Ivan. We all know Matchup is not the reason because yesterday we saw Scott and no Ivan, and Tolliver is does nothing better than Ivan.

W.R.Terrell

January 9th, 2013
6:58 pm

LD juggled the lineup. He is such a nutcase. ZaZa is going to bang but what are the rest of the bigs going to do. I can guarantee that the “Smoove” will be hanging at the 3 point line and whoever he is guarding will have a damn good game. I can guarantee that JT will yield to the “Smoove” at the last second for a 3 pointer. I can guarantee we will see the same defensive flubs that we saw last eve. This is a game that should not be hard but it will be. I can guarantee highlight film from you know who and here’s the deal I can definitely guarantee TO’s and a lot of them if the Bigs play point which they will. Besides all of that i’m going to enjoy LD come closer to being fired and if DF can manage getting rid of some dead weight which is going to be a big prob I will enjoy watching the dead weight for maybe 10 more games.

Chris Vivlamore

January 9th, 2013
7:01 pm

All:

DeShawn Stevenson won’t play tonight. Just announced as the inactive Hawks player.

Thanks for the kind words about asking the questions you want answered. You keep on me and I’ll keep making sure I’m your voice. Keep the tidbits coming too. It was someone on the blog who pointed out that Stevenson has not scored since the new year.

Pigskin

January 9th, 2013
7:02 pm

Lets keep the streak going!

Najeh Davenpoop

January 9th, 2013
7:04 pm

CJ Miles is out with an injury, so that reason doesn’t really apply for playing the big lineup. I completely support the move but it’s pretty obvious LD is just trying to shake things up and not doing this for matchup reasons.

W.R.Terrell

January 9th, 2013
7:08 pm

The starting lineup should be ZaZa, Ivan, Al or the “Smoove”, Lou and JJ as far as i’m concerned. Mike Scott in my opinion brings more to the table then Tolliver.

keith

January 9th, 2013
7:08 pm

“TOUGH QUESTIONS CHRIS VIVLAMORE”

Clearly, what anyone will get from your latest interview with Larry Drew is he has “No Clue” how to manage in tough times…This guy is losing credibility as we speak…There is some “in-fighting going on as well..

IVAN JOHNSON-passes the “eyeball” test…He gives you more than your 12 million dollar players!!!

LAME DUCK can not possibly survive beyond this season.. I WOULD BE SHOCKED IF HE DID…
Going Forward, the Atlanta Hawks need a Competent Coach, a Confident Coach, and a Coach with a CLUE, Clearly, Drew is neither!!!!!

Najeh Davenpoop

January 9th, 2013
7:10 pm

Any excuse for Ivan not playing 20 minutes per night with this roster is asinine. Thanks C-Viv for keeping the pressure on. There is no matchup in the league that justifies playing Scott or Tolliver over Ivan.

keith

January 9th, 2013
7:11 pm

NOT FOR LONG as number 3 in the Eastern Conference….We will see at the all-star break..

Najeh Davenpoop

January 9th, 2013
7:12 pm

Three Hawks standing around by the 3 point line with a wide open lane and Teague dribbling along the baseline. If any one of them cuts to the basket they have an easy layup.

keith

January 9th, 2013
7:13 pm

JEFF TEAGUE is FOOLS GOLD!!!!! CAN NOT TRUST HIM…

Melvin

January 9th, 2013
7:13 pm

Everyone standing on the perimeter when Teague had ball on the 1st possession which resulted in him dribble around the court….

Najeh Davenpoop

January 9th, 2013
7:14 pm

Nice post up in transition by Al and a good find by Josh.

High-sider

January 9th, 2013
7:20 pm

Hawks givin’ up too many 3s.

Melvin

January 9th, 2013
7:20 pm

Cavs are getting wide open shots…..

keith

January 9th, 2013
7:21 pm

Who’s responsible for guarding Alonzo Gee???

HueyFreeman

January 9th, 2013
7:21 pm

We don’t need to get into a 3 point contest. Especially with Josh against Gee, that’s fools gold. Nice to see some shots go down for Josh though, his stroke looks good tonight. KEEP GOING INSIDE though, they can’t stop us there.

High-sider

January 9th, 2013
7:22 pm

Hawks currently shooting 72.7% from the field and still down by 3 (points) – dang!!!

Blast

January 9th, 2013
7:22 pm

Hawks lose tonight, they could drop to 6th in the East!

ATLien

January 9th, 2013
7:22 pm

Horford for Cousins…make it happen Ferry.

Najeh Davenpoop

January 9th, 2013
7:22 pm

Hawks’ big lineup is controlling the boards early. Cut down on the turnovers and close out on Irving from 3 and they should be fine. I really don’t mind Gee continuing to shoot; he is a 29% shooter.

Najeh Davenpoop

January 9th, 2013
7:24 pm

Al has the touch tonight.

HueyFreeman

January 9th, 2013
7:25 pm

Mike Scott?? Ok then.

MattP

January 9th, 2013
7:25 pm

WTF, Scott coming out in the first now?

Najeh Davenpoop

January 9th, 2013
7:25 pm

Even Nique points out the absurdity of Mike Scott coming in before Ivan.

Buddy Grizzard

January 9th, 2013
7:26 pm

LOL Mike Scott in.

Buddy Grizzard

January 9th, 2013
7:26 pm

Whoever this Cavs color guy is, he sounds like the local drunk at the bar.

keith

January 9th, 2013
7:26 pm

John Jenkins…J.J. is Dynomite!!!!!!!

Astro Joe

January 9th, 2013
7:27 pm

Imagine if Korver had allowed all of those Gee 3s?

Najeh Davenpoop

January 9th, 2013
7:27 pm

Hawks 13 rebounds (4 offensive); Cleveland 3 rebounds (2 offensive). The score may not show it yet but the big lineup is working. Cleveland isn’t going to shoot 75% from 3 the rest of the game, and (hopefully) the Hawks are not going to turn it over 5 times every quarter. When both those numbers start coming back to their usual averages, good things will happen for the Hawks.

Melvin

January 9th, 2013
7:28 pm

Had Gee hit that last 3pt shot( wouldve been his 5th in the qtr), I wouldve went to Cleveland and to guard him after the next timeout….

keith

January 9th, 2013
7:28 pm

Buddy Grizzard
January 9th, 2013
7:26 pm

DITTO!!!! Hard to take those guys serious….