Al Horford's name is rarely mentioned by Hawks coach Mike Woodson. In two plus years with the Hawks Woodson said he hasn't had to worry about his starting center doing anything other than what's asked of him.
And this season, you can count on him being asked to do a whole lot more, particularly on the offensive end of the floor.
"I know one thing," Woodson said. "I have to get him more touches to the point where he's more of a threat. Between him and Zaza [Pachulia], we need to be able to muster at least 20 points a night. If we can get Al at about 12 or 13 points and double digit rebounds and Zaza somewhere around eight to 10 points, then we're talking."
Horford prepared this summer for more work on the offensive end than he's had in his first two seasons, when he had been more of a situational post scorer than a featured performer.
Scoring points, however, isn't his main concern.
"I think I've got to get after it a little more," Horford said after scoring eight points and grabbing six rebounds in just 19 minutes in the Hawks' 107-90 preseason win over Charlotte Monday night at Philips Arena. "A lot of times I've been focusing so hard on holding it down in the post for our team that I haven't focused as much on offense.
"I'm not too worried about it because we have more scorers now than we did a year ago. And I feel like that's going to help me because it will open the floor a little more for me and Josh [Smith] and give us some more room to operate down low."
Horford won't have to do all the work himself. Woodson has incorporated a few new tweaks to the offense to jump-start Horford's improving offensive game, which includes a much improved 17-foot jumper and an array of quick moves around the basket that he's yet to fully unleash.
"He's going to be fine," Woodson said. "Honestly, I just don't ever concern myself with Al because he's always been so much more advanced than your average rookie. Defending and rebounding, he does it all. Offensively, he has to get a little better. But he's got all the tools to work with. So that's where we come in as coaches. We have to help make that happen."
Woodson got the directive from the NBA office in Manhattan about choosing his words carefully when discussing the replacement referees.
And he's been mindful of that directive even after watching the replacements whistle 66 and 57 fouls, respectively, in the Hawks' first two preseason games.
"My thing is, as long as they keep it consistent, I'm not going to sit here and complain about it," a smiling Woodson said before Monday night's game. "Referees didn't beat us [Sunday in Detroit]."
Still, it's hard to ignore the flow of games being slower with the replacement officials. They called a staggering 46 fouls through the first three quarters Monday night.
Bobcats coach Larry Brown wasn't nearly as diplomatic as Woodson.
He was ejected with 3:23 to play in the third and lead official Kevin Scott asked for a security guard to escort Brown off the floor, to the stunned amazement of everyone at courtside.
"I'm keeping my mouth shut," Josh Smith said as he exited the floor after Brown was ejected. "I'm keeping my mouth shut."