Give Acie Law IV a little bit and he wants more. It's just his nature, particularly when it comes to the things he's passionate about.
That's why the Hawks' backup point guard looked as if he could have played into the next morning Saturday night in Cleveland. Law had just finished turning in one of the best performances of his career in a loss to the Cavaliers.
A career-high 20 points, season-high seven assists and career-high six rebounds, all in a season-high 23 minutes, have a way of stirring the adrenaline.
"Whatever opportunity I get, I'm going to take advantage of it and go from there and do whatever I can to help my team out," Law said Tuesday after the Hawks finished preparations for tonight's game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Philips Arena. "Our team is playing so well right now that I know the situation might change from night to night, so I have to be ready every night for whatever comes my way."
The minutes have been hard to come by this season, with starting point guard Mike Bibby at full strength and veteran guard Flip Murray swinging between both backcourt spots behind Bibby and Joe Johnson.
For Law, that has meant less playing time --- he's averaging 11.5 minutes per game, down from the 15.4 he played during his injury-plagued rookie season --- but a learning experience his veteran teammates insist will pay dividends in the long run.
"I always tell Acie to be ready, because I've been in that position before, playing behind someone," Johnson said. "I played behind Steph [Stephon Marbury], Penny [Hardaway] and Shawn [Marion] in Phoenix. I had a chance to sit back and learn the game. I didn't really start playing until my third year, midway through my third year, when we made a big trade. And that was a big step for me.
"It doesn't happen just like that for a lot of guys, when you come into the league and start from the jump. So I had to earn every minute. And it's tough. You have to stay ready, regardless of how many minutes you play and when your number is called. When they call you, you better be ready."
Law said he has studied Bibby's game, trying to learn everything he can from an older teammate seasoned by a decade in the NBA.
Their lockers are close to each other at home, making it easy for Law to watch Bibby and learn from how he handles himself.
"Having been there before, I can tell you he's doing a great job," Marvin Williams said. "The thing Acie has to remember is that he can play. He knows he can play. There's no reason for him to ever lose confidence or anything. He had what, 20 [points], seven [assists] and six [rebounds] the other night in about 20 minutes? He just has to learn everything he can watching Mike and be ready to play when it's his turn."
When that is remains to be seen.
"The thing with us right now is we have the luxury of developing Acie," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "When we drafted Josh Smith and Josh Childress we didn't have that luxury. We had to throw them to the wolves before they were ready.
"Sometimes that's good and sometimes it's not. If you put a young guy in a situation early where he fails so bad, he has a tough time recovering. Young guys have their ups and downs. In our case, Acie Law doesn't have to come in and save our team. But on the flip side, I still want guys to be hungry and be ready to play. And he's been all of that."
NEXT FOR Hawks
* Who: vs. Bucks
* When: 7 p.m. today
* TV; radio: Fox Sports South; 790 AM