Hawks try to avoid flu bug

SAN ANTONIO -- The outbreak of illness that's afflicted some NBA teams lately has so far been contained in the Hawks' locker room to reserve center Zaza Pachulia.

Coach Larry Drew said the team was taking just one step to keep it that way: isolate Pachulia. He missed practice Thursday and didn't make the trip for Atlanta's game with the Spurs Friday.

"The only precaution is to just not have him around in case that thing is highly contagious," Drew said with a laugh.

Five Magic players were forced to miss games since last week due to flu-like symptoms. Other players who have become ill lately include Denver's Carmelo Anthony and Houston's Kevin Martin.

"I know it's been going around," Drew said. "I know some teams have really been hit hard by it. We just hope that's not the case with us, that Zaza is OK and none of our other guys pick it up."

Williams hurting

There were periods Friday when Marvin Williams looked explosive on the floor and other times when he seemed to struggle to walk without limping. That's the way it's been for Williams since returning from a right knee injury he suffered on Nov. 3.

“It is painful at times, other times it manageable," he said before the game. "It is pretty much the same. Just kind of plugging away.”

Williams said he took hit on the knee in the same place Monday at Orlando but doesn't like to wear knee pads.

“I can’t operate in them,” he said. “It just feels too weird."

Coach ‘Pop'

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was a coach for the the 2003 U.S. National Team, which Hawks guard Mike Bibby helped to a 10-0 finish at the FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Puerto Rico.

Bibby said his experience with Popovich is why he’s not surprised by San Antonio’s consistency, which includes at least 50 victories in every full season since 1997-98.

“Good guy, but he makes you work,” Bibby said. “I can see it. Ever since I’ve been playing, they’ve had the one of best defensive teams in the league. I remember first coming in, they were the hardest team for me to play against because of their help defense."