What they said after the Hawks 102-92 victory over the Pacers Saturday night at Philips Arena:
Opening statement: “First of all, it’s great to play at home and play in front of a crowd like we had tonight. That really helps us and our guys appreciate the support. Hopefully, we can continue to build on that.”
“Defensively, I thought we are continuing to, hopefully, improve and build there. I thought the activity for really long stretches of the game was really good. And the guard’s activity rebounding was very good. Then our bench came in and really gave us some separation in that second quarter. It was good to see that unit play well. Individually, a couple of guys … Jeff Teague obviously finishing the game off and Al Horford getting him back and healthy and on the court makes a big difference for us. We’ll look at the film and there will be lots to work on, I’m sure.
On Al Horford: “He is getting more of a rhythm. Even though he didn’t have a lot of boards tonight he goes up and won some important ones with his length. I think he is getting more comfortable on the offensive end and finding ways where he can contribute. His jumper, he is a great mid-range shooter and he’ll continue to work on that. He is a player who will help our offense a lot.”
On Jeff Teague: “The league, at the end of games there are a lot of pick-and-rolls. To a certain degree, we have to take what the defense gives us. He had an opportunity to make some shots. If they take him away, we feel like with have Paul (Millsap) or Al and we have the floor spaced. It’s not any different for us. When teams put us in pick-and-rolls it’s hard to guard and you have to make tough decisions. Jeff was excellent in closing out the game.”
On being in a rhythm early: “I just wanted to bring a lot of energy. I think the defense was leading to a lot of my offense, our team defense in general. Like I said, this is going to be a process but I felt much more comfortable today.”
On improving team rebounding: “Yes, our guards rebounded better. However, we gave us some offensive rebounds there. Credit to our defense, we held them to a lower field-goal percentage. I think we can still be better in that area. We were much better than the first game but we can still get better.
On being winded late: “In the third (quarter), I was looking to the bench. It got to me a little bit. In the fourth quarter, I got a second wind and started feeling better.”
On atmosphere: “It was big to get a win. The crowd was great tonight. We had a fantastic time out there.”
On taking over late: “I was just trying to make plays and win the ball game. I wanted to do whatever I could for our team.”
On improved rebounding: “It wasn’t hard to get better. I still don’t think it was great, but it was better. And we have to do that to win. It’s a team effort. We all have to be in there scrapping.”
On players diving for loose balls: “That’s fun basketball too. But that’s also the way we have to play. With have to be out there and that has to be our mentality. We have to outwork teams. We have to play with great chemistry. I thought we did that for most of the game. There were a couple two-, three-, four-minute stretches where our decisions weren’t great and we let them back in the game a little. I thought for the most part the guys played hard. There was great energy tonight. The thing with the floor at the beginning was amazing, right? Wasn’t that cool? It’s good to get a win here and keep on building.”
On difference between first two games: “I think we started off with a sense of urgency, especially in the first quarter we let our defense dictate our offense. That’s what we have to do every night. We can still learn from this win. It was good win but at the same time we had big leads. We can’t give up big leads.”
On Pacers’ comeback from 17-point deficit: “I think that us being able to push through that was just growth from playing last year. There is a lot of time left. Take a deep breath. Coach did a good job of calming us down. If it was last year, we probably would have let them come all the way back to one. We are growing, man. We are just trying to get acclimated to Al back in the starting lineup. Once we get that chemistry back, we are going to get on a roll.”
On his rebounding: “Coach Bud got on me. He got on all the guards about our rebounding. I told him I was trying to be nice to the big men. He said ‘No, you just need to get the rebound.’ I said ‘OK.’ I had to go tell all my big men I have to get back to eight or nine rebounds and there you go.”
On differences between first two games: “We came out with a lot of energy, more assertiveness, more aggressive. I think that was the biggest difference.”