Teague shines in Hawks' comback

Teague shines in Hawks' comback

Published Jan. 16, 2012 10:43 a.m. ET

The power of the mercurial point guard was on full display for the Hawks to see and lament, courtesy of Ricky Rubio and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Hawks had their chance to draft a game-changing point guard once, in 2005, but opted for Marvin Williams instead of either Deron Williams or Chris Paul. It's a decision that seems to come up all the time, but especially when the opposing team's point guard is as gifted and skilled as the dazzling Rubio.

With Rubio joining forces with Kevin Love to take the Hawks apart early, the Timberwolves led by as many as 18 points and it looked like it could be a long night for Rubio's Hawks counterpart, Jeff Teague.

But the Hawks' second-year floor general battled his way back, with a huge assist from the second unit, as the Hawks rallied from that huge deficit for a 93-91 win. Teague took his lumps but dished out a few of his own. He'll never be Williams or Paul, but he's the Hawks' future at the position. So the sooner he gets comfortable, the better off the Hawks will be in his hands.

It certainly helped Teague's cause to have Ivan Johnson on his side. The 27-year-old rookie big man sank the game-winning free throws after being fouled on his rebound of an errant Josh Smith 3-pointer with 4.6 seconds to play.

And that other Johnson, Joe ... the Hawks' All-Star shooting guard, certainly did his part as well (finishing with 25 points), as did that aforementioned second unit.

"Our bench was spectacular, especially big Ivan," Smith said. "Willie Green went off. Vlad (Radmanovic) did his thing. It was all of those guys with Jeff running the show for them that put us back in this game and over the hump."

Still, it's the work of Teague that will be most scrutinized after this and every game by Hawks coach Larry Drew, himself a former NBA point guard with an understanding of the trials and tribulations all young points guards face in their transition from reserve to starter.

"He remains a work in progress," Drew said. "But he's made great strides in his game and will continue to do so. That's what's important. Jeff is going to keep getting better. He's going to keep working and at the end of the day, that's the only thing that matters."

Teague finished his night with 20 points, 10 assists, six turnovers, three rebounds and three steals. Rubio ended his night with 18 points, 12 assists, five steals, four rebounds and four turnovers.

The Hawks are next in action Monday at home against the Raptors on SportSouth.