ATLANTA --- As he got up from the bench and walked in front of press row, Garret Siler received a smattering of applause from the Hawks fans.
With 5:57 left in Atlanta's preseason opener against New Orleans on Wednesday night, the big guy from Augusta finally got his chance.
When Siler swished the first of two free throws, Augusta State coach Dip Metress beamed from ear to ear from his lower-level seat. The former Jaguar All-American center had made it.
"Unbelievable," Metress said about his first former player on an NBA roster. "Just to dress for an NBA game is an unbelievable accomplishment for him."
Siler saw late action in the Hawks' 108-102 preseason-opening victory over New Orleans at Philips Arena. He scored just one point, but Siler defended his turf and gained valuable experience against a team other than his own.
"It was good," he said. "I played. I got minutes. I scored. I played 'D.' I didn't get many shot attempts but I did what I had to do."
Siler's stat line: No field-goal attempts, 1 for 2 free throws, two fouls, two turnovers, one point and one rebound.
"He was very effective for the minutes he played," Atlanta starting forward Marvin Williams said. "He's been having a great camp. He's been out there working hard, playing hard."
When the Hawks ran out to the court before the game, Siler was the last player in line. He also was the biggest of 17 Atlanta players dressed out -- Siler was listed as 6-foot-11, 305 pounds, though he said earlier in the day he weighed 275.
At the game's start, Siler grabbed a spot on the middle of the bench. Shortly after, the 22-year-old rookie moved to the floor. For the game's first 24 minutes, Siler sat next to the team's towel boy.
"Everybody else said they had to do it their rookie year," Siler said.
In the third quarter, he finally moved to the bench. Then, midway through the fourth, Siler got his chance.
With 5:30 left in the game, Siler took a pass inside from fellow rookie Jeff Teague. Before he had a chance for a two-handed slam dunk, Siler got fouled.
After draining the first free throw, he missed the second.
"Once you see the ball go in the hole," Siler said, "it's just kind of like, 'Yeah, I'm here.' "
Siler is one of seven players vying for two remaining spots on the roster when the Hawks open the regular season against Indiana, Oct. 28.
"He's a having a pretty good camp," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "I like him because of his size, but he's not ready yet. We've just got to continue to work with him.
"Does he have a shot of making the team? If he continues to work while he's here, he'll have a shot at it."
Atlanta's Joe Johnson appeared in mid-season form, with 17 points on 7 for 10 shooting. Teague came off the bench for a team-high 19 points.
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or firstname.lastname@example.org.