One thing is apparently clear about the Atlanta Hawks new coaching regime. A player can be out of the rotation one game and then be thrust into a big spot in another. The latest example is Gustavo Ayon and Shelvin Mack whose performance played a big part in Atlanta's 110-90 win over the New York Knicks on Saturday.
"Obviously a good effort on our entire group's part," coach Mike Budenholzer said. "I think it was great to see the bench give us what they gave us tonight. I think defensively that was the closest to a complete game we've had."
Ayon hadn't made an appearance during the regular season before being inserted into the starting lineup on Friday against Philadelphia. He didn't start against the Knicks but played well finishing with 10 points and five rebounds. Mack has been regulated to third string point guard duty but Budenholzer elected to go with him over rookie Dennis Schröder who has struggled of late. Mack rewarded Coach Bud with the first double-double of his career and was key in a second quarter run that put Atlanta ahead.
John Jenkins also saw rotational minutes on Saturday finishing with two points in 16 minutes. Elton Brand and Pero Antic didn't play but have seen key minutes in earlier games.
The coaching staff is trying to build depth and still searching for working combinations. From the looks of things they are progressing well.
"Man, those guys stepped up real big for us tonight," Millsap said. "They did a great job coming off and sparking that energy for us. They came in, executed well, played great defense. Goose (Ayon) was on the glass. Going forward, that's what we're going to need. We're going to need a bench to compete in this league."