Marvin Williams' return to the Hawks' active rotation Friday night against Indiana came a few games too late for coach Mike Woodson.Don't' get Woodson wrong, he loves having his starting small forward back from a 16-game absence caused by a lower back injury. He just wishes he'd had him sooner -- because he can think of at least four to five games recently where the mere presence of a 6-9, 240-pound player that can post up as well as shoot 3-pointers would have changed things for his team.
"Just the 14.0 (points) and 6.4 rebounds he brings is just huge," Woodson said. "And we were able to maintain somewhat without him. But if you look at the Boston game, the Philadelphia game, the San Antonio game, the Orlando game and those are low scoring games, five or six point games.
"Could Marvin have made a difference in terms of point production in those games? Sure he could have. We were struggling to score points. And to subtract 14 points from your lineup, that's significant. Because somebody has to make it up."
Also missing, Woodson said, was just the threat of a player who can do what Williams can do.
"Say Joe (Johnson) doesn't have it going," he said. "Or maybe Josh (Smith) and (Mike) Bibby are struggling, it gives you Marvin to put on the block. Or you can give it to him and let him isolate his guy and drive and get fouled. He has those capabilities. Really, it's just tougher when he's not there."
Williams entered the game with 6:01 to play in the first quarter to a standing ovation.
HAWKS 122, PACERS 118: Al Horford didn't need any reminders about what was on the line for the Hawks on Friday night.
He played like it, too, leading the way on both ends of the floor as the Hawks outlasted Indiana 122-118 to clinch the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference playoff chase and the home-court advantage that comes with it in their first-round series.
Home court was actually theirs with two minutes to play in their game. Miami's loss in Boston Friday night secured it for the Hawks, who had no idea that they'd already clinched.
The last time the Hawks had a home-court advantage for a first-round series was against Detroit in the 1998-99 season.
Horford was one of five Hawks to score in double figures and one of three to finish with 20 or more.
He finished the night with 22 points, a game-high 15 rebounds and five assists. Josh Smith led the Hawks with 30 points and also had 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Joe Johnson added 24 points, and Mike Bibby had 15 points and nine assists.
Flip Murray added 15 off the bench for the Hawks, who improved to 46-34 with the win while also collecting their 30th home win of the season.
The last time the Hawks won 30 or more home games was during the 1996-97 season, when they won 36.