After going through a roster overhaul in the off-season — including trading their $119 million shooting guard (Joe Johnson) and top perimeter defender (Marvin Williams) for a few role players along with a 2017 2nd-round draft pick — it’s no doubt that the Atlanta Hawks are one of the more pleasant surprises in the NBA as they sit just two games out of first place in the Eastern Conference behind defending champion Miami Heat.
However, what the Hawks combined to do with the New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday night was anything but pleasant.
In order to provide the proper perspective, I’ll let the incomparable Elias Sports Bureau tell the tale:
Josh Smith scored 23 points and Al Horford added 20 to lift the Hawks to a 95-86 decision at New Orleans. It was the 20th NBA game in which both of those players reached the 20-point plateau, and Atlanta has come away the winner in 15 of those 20 games. But the New Year’s night game in New Orleans was historic for a much different reason: the Hawks made only four of their eight free-throw attempts, while the Hornets made just four of 12. Put them together and you get a combined free-throw percentage of 40 percent (eight made in 20 attempts), the lowest in any of the 49,000-plus NBA regular-season games played since the league introduced the 24-second shot clock in the fall of 1954.