Hawks Need Joe Johnson to Step-Up?
In Game 3 on Friday, (Joe) Johnson at least went down firing. He scored 29 points (on 28 shots) and took eight rebounds in an overtime loss. In Sunday’s Game 4 he notched a triple single — nine points, three assists, one rebound. He took eight shots in 31 minutes. On Monday he suggested he hadn’t gotten enough touches, which elicited something close to a rebuke from (Al) Horford.
“He has to be the enforcer,” Horford said. “He has to make his presence felt.”
You might recall that Larry Drew became head coach after lobbying that he would de-emphasize the Iso-Joe offense that Mike Woodson preferred. Johnson was 11th among NBA scorers in his final season under Woodson; under Drew he has been 28th and 18th. Nobody would seriously suggest that those are superstar numbers, but when the playoffs arrive a strange thing happens: The Hawks still act as if they believe Johnson is a superstar.
Said Jeff Teague, speaking Monday: “He’s our go-to player.”
Said Drew: “We need him to get shots. We run a lot of things through him.”