It's been awhile for Speedy Claxton.Claxton's last regular-season action came on March 3, 2007. He played 15 scoreless minutes against the New York Knicks.
But with Acie Law IV still sidelined with lower back pain and the playoffs just days away, Claxton's opportunity is at hand.
"I'm going to try to turn some heads," he said before seeing his first action in two years against Miami Tuesday night. "(Hawks coach Mike Woodson) told me that it's wide open. So I'm going to play hard and just see what happens."
Claxton played only seven minutes. His numbers barely registered: one point, one assist, one foul and one air-balled free throw.
Woodson said he would only play Claxton for about six or seven minutes, not wanting to push the veteran too hard after such a long layoff, caused by hand and knee injuries.
It was a wise move.
"It was fun," Claxton said. "It felt a little weird to be out on the court, a little bit rusty. But that will go away once I get a little bit more minutes, hopefully."
That should come Wednesday night in Memphis, where the Hawks will wrap up the regular season against the Grizzlies.
"We need to get his feet wet and just see where he is as a player," Woodson said. "Because when we start the playoffs the roster is wide open in terms of the guys we keep active. We just have to weigh our options in a couple days and see where we are. But it will really be based on practice Thursday and Friday to see where he is and to see where Acie is at that time."
In Claxton, the Hawks have a seemingly healthy player with playoff experience but little in the way of game-ready conditioning.
"There's no substitute for the real thing," Claxton said. "Playing in practice and playing three-on-three with the guys is totally different from a real game, from a conditioning standpoint and just the game itself."
HAWKS 81, HEAT 79: They went out in style on their home floor.
The Hawks notched their 31st home win of the season and their 47th of the year overall with an uglier-than-necessary win over Miami on Tuesday night.
That was because of the lack of starters from both sides being on the floor.
It wasn't the playoff preview it was supposed to be. The Hawks and Heat danced around each other in a meaningless game. The Hawks' starters played sparingly, and Heat starters Dwyane Wade, Jermaine O'Neal, Udonis Haslem and Jamario Moon watched from the bench in suits.
Neither Hawks coach Mike Woodson nor Heat coach Erik Spoelstra seemed interested in showing off too much.
Still, both coaches insist they want to keep their guys sharp for a series that promises to deliver in the thrills department, what with Wade being an MVP candidate and one of the league's most exciting players and the Hawks being one the biggest surprises.
Tuesday night, though, it was a battle of the benches. And both groups seemed up to the challenge.
"We had an opportunity to rest some guys," Woodson said. "The guys who are usually on the bench were able to come out and play well, especially on the defensive end. I think it's a great way to end the (home) season."
Spoelstra made no bones about his desire to win, knowing that a loss would mean his team lost three of four games to the Hawks this season.
"We were trying to win this game," Spoelstra said. "Every game we want to come out and compete and give ourselves a chance to win."