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News » Reserves respond when called up

Reserves respond when called up

Reserves respond when called up
Just the sight of the five of them on the floor together caused heads to turn.

Five Hawks reserves playing together usually means they're at practice. Five Hawks reserves on the floor together in a game, as they were in the second half of Saturday's last-second win over Houston, is noteworthy.

And something, according to Hawks coach Mike Woodson, that likely will have to be repeated on a regular basis with the rigors of the NBA season.

"I've got to get back to that somehow," Woodson said. "And I know I keep saying that, but eventually we will. We'll have guys in and out. I want to try to, at least, get to nine or 10 deep that we're playing on a regular basis.

"But it sure would be nice to get some big leads and keep them so we could work all our guys."

Back-to-back games and an injury to Marvin Williams forced Woodson's hand Saturday. The move paid off handsomely for the Hawks, who are 22-11 thanks in large part to the 35-point boost they got from the bench.

Mo Evans started in place of Williams, but when Zaza Pachulia, Flip Murray, Acie Law IV and Solomon Jones joined him, five reserves were on the floor at once.

"The bench definitely has to be effective in order for us to be a good team," Hawks captain and All-Star Joe Johnson said. "There's just no way the starters can play 40-plus minutes a game every night. So those guys have got to be ready whenever their number is called."

Evans, Murray and Pachulia have been ready. They have all played consistently this season, the minutes fluctuating based on the situation. Law and Jones, however, haven't been played much lately.

Law played in 20 of the Hawks' first 21 games this season, missing one with flu-like symptoms. Since Dec. 13, however, he's had more (six) DNP-CDs (did not play, coach's decision) than he has game appearances (five).

Similarly, Jones's role expanded when Josh Smith went down with a high ankle sprain in the fourth game of the season. Jones played 15 or more minutes 10 times in the 12 games Smith missed but has done so once since his return. And he's piled up six DNP-CDs of his own during that span.

"That has to be the toughest part for those guys," Smith said. "You come to work every day, and everybody wants to play minutes. There's no doubt about that. But it's nearly impossible to keep 12 guys happy that way, because everybody wants to play as much as possible.

"That's why we have to be grateful for the times that they come in and do what they did [against the Rockets], because it's a huge boost for our team."

Law and Jones have an ally in Pachulia, who experienced his own issues with playing time last season. He lost his starting job to Al Horford and struggled with the adjustment to coming off the bench.

He finally found his comfort zone, providing a lift off the bench every time he hits the floor these days. Save for a Dec. 21 win over Detroit in which he played only six minutes, Pachulia has logged 14 or more minutes in seven straight games. And he's been productive no matter how much time he gets. He averaged 6.6 points and 5.4 rebounds in 17.7 minutes in 15 December games.

"I've been talking to Acie, especially just because I've been in that situation before," Pachulia said. "I think he's done a great job. And he has to respect it, because it's very hard to stay ready when you're not playing.

"But this is professional Basketball, and he's a good young player and he's showing good character by accepting his role the way he has."

Woodson said if all his reserves follow Pachulia's lead, getting to nine or 10 deep shouldn't be a problem.

"When you're learning to win," Woodson said, "everybody has to understand that and accept their role, knowing that whatever minutes I get I have to make them most significant minutes I can to help our team win Basketball games. Because you never know when you'll be called upon.

"And Acie was great for us, Solomon was great for us. You just never know what can happen, so you have to ready mentally and physically to do your job."


* Who: vs. Magic

* When: 7 p.m. Wednesday

* TV; radio: SportsSouth; 790 AM

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: January 5, 2009


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