Mike Woodson believes point guard Jeff Teague will run the Hawks one day.
It’s just not going to happen on this team, at this time.
“I don’t have to rush Teague,” Woodson said. “I’ve got confidence in Teague. But [Mike] Bibby and Jamal [Crawford] have carried the load at the [point].
“I feel good about Teague and what he brings to the table. Eventually Teague will run this team, I think. But I don’t have to throw him to the wolves like I did those other guys.”
Woodson was referring to his early days in Atlanta, when he sent out Josh Smith, Marvin Williams and Josh Childress because he didn’t have any choice. They were young players forced to learn on the fly and take their lumps.
Now, the Hawks are an Eastern Conference contender with two veterans available at point guard. That means Teague is not in the regular rotation and his minutes will be sporadic -- he played four minutes early in the 94-91 loss to the Thunder Monday after not playing Friday vs. Phoenix.
Teague said it’s frustrating to not get consistent playing time, but he looks at the circumstances and understands he must wait his turn.
“It’s always good to be winning,” Teague said. “I know if I was a rookie right now and I was losing every game I would probably be really frustrated and depressed if I wasn’t playing.
“But to be on a good team, and learn from really good players and when I do get out there get an opportunity to do my best, it’s a blessing.”
Woodson said he didn’t know when Teague would take over.
“You just never know,” Woodson said. “If Bibby goes down or Jamal goes down, you think I won’t play Teague? Sure I am going to play Teague. I’m not going to get somebody else to bring in.
“Teague can play and hold his own. He proved that in the exhibition season. It’s just that I’m playing with the veteran guys right now.”
Team effort on Durant
Woodson sent Mario West, Maurice Evans and Mario Williams at Thunder forward Kevin Durant. He got 14 of his 29 points at the free-throw line while shooting 7 of 18 from the field.
Durant is a tough matchup because he can shoot over defenders with his length and also is quick to the basket.
“He’s the kind of guy where collectively you have to get the job done as a team,” West said. “We pride ourselves on defense so we think we could have done a better job.”
Hawks center Zaza Pachulia returned Monday after missing two games with flu-like symptoms. With Al Horford in foul trouble, Pachulia played 15 minutes and had nine rebounds.
“That didn’t hurt us,” Woodson said of Horford’s foul trouble. “I thought Zaza came in and gave us a lift.”
About the Author
Credit: Miguel Martinez