Atlanta's Doctor is back, and it is no coincidence that the Hawks' fortunes have improved.
Glenn (Doc) Rivers returned to the lineup 15 games ago, and coach Mike Fratello feels his presence is a key to the club's turnaround. The Hawks came to town with a five-game winning streak and had won 11 games since Rivers returned to action Dec. 4. They shot over 50 percent in eight of the games.
"His presence makes a big difference in the way we're able to do things," said Fratello. "Having him as a point guard gives us a great deal more flexiblity.
"We're still a young team, and if you take away two of our veterans, the other guys total 14 years of experience. Having Glenn, who is a third-year guard, gives us that experience and court savvy that you have to have if you are to be successful."
The return of Rivers, who had a season high of 29 points, 7 rebounds, 7 steals and 6 assists in a 110-99 victory in Detroit on Thursday, has improved all the Hawks, especially Dominque Wilkins.
"Dominque was playing well before Doc came back," said Fratello. "But after he did, (Wilkins') numbers began to reflect it. Doc has become one of those players who can make the people around him play better, and I think that has been the case with Wilkins."