ATLANTA -- Jeff Teague, its time to shine. All hell have to do is hold his own against the NBAs expected MVP, the guy who led the Chicago Bulls to more wins than any other team. "Its a tough situation," Teague said Saturday, sitting at his locker after a lengthy practice with the Atlanta Hawks. "But these are the kind of moments you live for." The second-year guard is expected to take on a key role in the Eastern Conference semifinals after Kirk Hinrich went down in the closing minutes of a series-clinching win over Orlando with a severely strained hamstring. Hinrich is unlikely to play in this round, meaning the Hawks have got to find a point guard who can run the offence and, most important, give Chicago star Derrick Rose some problems at the defensive end. While no one is likely to be given the exclusive job of guarding Rose -- thats far too much to ask of anyone -- Teague has the quickness to at least give it a shot. But the former first-round pick out of Wake Forest has struggled to provide the sort of consistency that coach Larry Drew wants, saddling the youngster with long stints on the bench between the occasional start. In the opening series against Orlando, the Hawks went with a bigger lineup to combat Dwight Howard, which left no role for Teague. He played in only two of six games, for a total of nine minutes. Now, he has to grow up fast. Game 1 is Monday night in Chicago. "Weve seen him be really, really good. Other times, he hasnt been so good," Drew said. "The consistency is not there. But even with that being said, Ill never give up on him. I told him that. I still believe in his ability. I know that when he plays with a consistency, hes a totally different player and were a totally different team. Im never going to give up on that. I see something in him I really like." Teague barely played at all his rookie year, which was one of major criticisms against former coach Mike Woodson. Some felt he didnt do enough to develop Teague as a reliable backup, and that was clearly a goal when Woodson was fired and his top assistant inherited the job. Drew put Teague in the starting lineup a couple of times, once for a four-game stretch in late February after Hinrich was acquired from Washington, then again for three games in mid-March as part of a rotation that shifted Hinrich to shooting guard and Joe Johnson to small forward. Teague turned in perhaps the best performance of his career in a win over Portland, playing 44 minutes and getting 24 points, five steals, three assists and even three blocks. Drew was so impressed that he seemed committed to sticking with the new lineup for the long haul. That lasted only two more games. Teague made 3 of 16 shots, failed to push the offence and was sent back to the bench. "I just need to play. Dont try to think too much," he said. "When you start thinking out there, thats when things go wrong. I need to just go out there and play, play as hard as I can and do what I can to help the team." The Bulls, who had to work surprisingly hard to finish off a five-game victory over Indiana in the opening round, surely know theyve caught a break with Hinrichs injury. But Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau played down any advantage his team might have, pointing to players such as Teague and super sub Jamal Crawford, who led the Hawks with 20.5 points a game in the opening round. "They have quality depth," Thibodeau said. "Crawford has played a lot of minutes. Teague has played extremely well when hes been in their rotation. Hes a guy that you cant overlook. Joe Johnson has the ability to handle the ball. Theyve got a lot of depth in their backcourt. Their perimeter guys are really skilled." The Pacers kept switching up on Rose, trying to throw him off his game by defending him with everyone from six-foot point guard Darren Collison to Danny Granger and Paul George, a pair of 6-8 forwards. While it was effective at times, Rose still managed 27.6 points a game. Hes approaching this series with the same mindset, not the least bit concerned about whos healthy enough to play for the Hawks or who might be defending him. "It doesnt change at all," he said. "Teague or whoever starts in (Hinrichs) spot, theyre good players. Jamal, hes a scorer, keeps them going, keeps them in games. ... Theyve got a lot of athletic people on that team." The Hawks havent won a second-round playoff game in 14 years. They were swept the last two years, losing to Cleveland and Orlando. With Hinrich hurting, many are expecting the same result. "We love it. Theres no pressure on us. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain," Crawford said. "Well just go out there, have fun, compete hard and see what happens." Then, he added with a smile, "We kind of embrace that role a little bit." ------ AP Sports Writer Andrew Seligman in Deerfield, Ill., contributed to this report. AJ Green Womens Jersey
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. -- For years, the San Jose Sharks have entered the post-season as one of the favourites to win the Stanley Cup, only to fall short somewhere along the line.Joffrey Lupul has a warning for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman: dont take hockey fans for granted. "I think its important that we realize this effects a lot of people besides us," the Toronto Maple Leafs left winger said on Thursday after skating with some teammates at the clubs practice facility. "Im a hockey fan myself and this is the second time in 10 years weve been in this situation and so thats pretty disappointing. "We know hockey has a lot of great fans but, with that being said, at some point there is a time when fans will get fed up and hopefully these negotiations can start getting a little more serious. I know our side definitely has the fans in mind." Bettman ruffled some feathers last month when he told reporters his league was able to recover from the last work stoppage, which wiped out the 2004-05 season, because "we have the worlds greatest fans." But Lupul believes even the most loyal fans have a breaking point. "Ive been a hockey fan since I was four-years-old and its frustrating to see stuff like this so I can only imagine what someone else thinks, [someone] that doesnt play in the NHL. Were definitely worried about fans and both sides probably want to apologize to them right now." And while many fans are already worried about this weekends lockout deadline, Lupul suggests its a little too early to push the panic button. "Septemmber 15th is the date theyve had penciled in because the agreement is expiring but, truly, camp doesnt start until the 22nd so theres a one-week period there where they say the lockouts on, but it really hasnt begun until you start missing the first day of camp.dddddddddddd That gives you another week there to negotiate and hopefully things will move in the right direction." The all-star, who scored 25 goals in 66 games last season, doesnt expect any real movement in the talks to take place until after the deadline passes. As a result, he had no reason to tune in to Bettmans news conference on Thursday afternoon. "Typically, I havent been watching any of the press conferences," he said. "We get updated on our site and on the iPhone App and things like that. Typically, those press conferences are more of a PR move by Gary for the most part so I dont think youre going to find too much useful information when hes speaking to the media." If the worst-case scenario happens and the season is lost Lupul plans on playing somewhere and is already thinking about options in Europe. Although he has yet to set a personal deadline for when he would need to make a call on that. "At some point theres a time guys look at Europe, because we want to play. Its been a good off-season for me. I worked extremely hard, Im in good shape and Im ready to play hockey." ' ' '