Greetings! Things have gotten off of the rails a bit for Atlanta in the last two weeks, and the early-season momentum seems like it is a world away. Let’s take a look at what transpired.
Hawks @ T-Wolves — Tuesday, January 8th — Loss (108-103)
There’s no shame in losing in Minnesota on the road. I thought the Hawks played reasonably well, shooting 49% from the field, 45% from three, and even taking 21 free throws (making 17). Minnesota was just better on this night, committing an obscenely low 9 turnovers, and assisting on 29 of 40 baskets. The Hawks had no answer for Nikola Pekovic, who scored 25 points and dominated the glass to the tune of 18 rebounds. It was pretty curious to see only 24 minutes from Zaza Pachulia on a night where his physical equal (Pekovic) was dominating, but Al Horford and Josh Smith were playing well offensively, and Drew made the calculated risk to leave them at the 4 and 5 spots. It’s worth noting that Jeff Teague was a complete non-factor in this one, playing just 22 minutes, shooting 2 of 6, and committing 5 fouls. Eesh.
Hawks @ Cavs — Wednesday, January 9th — Loss (99-83)
Brutal. Atlanta scored just 55 points in the final three quarters, and Cleveland was just better all night. Kyrie Irving was tremendous, scoring 33 points on just 15 shots for the Cavs, but I thought the real X-factor was Alonzo Gee, who knocked down 5-9 threes to pick up the scoring slack for Cleveland. Overall, the Cavs made 12 of 23 from beyond the 3-point arc, and got to the line 20 times compared to just 5 attempts from Atlanta. It was a thoroughly lackluster effort from the jump, and while no one was “bad” (save the 7 of 18 shooting night from Al Horford), no player played particularly well here.
Hawks vs. Jazz — Friday, January 11th — Win (103-95)
It was looking like yet another one of “those” nights for Atlanta through three quarters, as the Hawks trailed 76-68 at that point even after cutting the lead down by seven points. And then, the Hawks exploded for a 35-point fourth quarter and an 8-point win. Devin Harris keyed the run for Atlanta with a season-high 24 points, including a shocking 4-5 from three-point distance, and Atlanta had six double-figure scorers despite only 7 points from Jeff Teague, and 3 from Kyle Korver. The second-unit was tremendous, as Ivan Johnson and Lou Williams were both +23 on the night, and they were just a different team with the Harris/Williams back-court. It is important to say that I don’t think this is sustainable, as Harris isn’t going to shoot like this on most nights, but it was a good thing he had it going on Friday night. For Utah, Randy Foye scored 25 points on 8-12 shooting, and Al Jefferson added 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Jazz.
Hawks @ Wizards — Saturday, January 12th — Loss (93-83)
Mercifully, the season series against Washington is over. Unfortunately, it ended on a woeful note. The Atlanta offense was a disaster for the majority of the night, and the final results were ugly. 38.5% shooting from the field, 7 of 24 from three-point land (29%), a rebounding disadvantage of 51-38, and 16 turnovers. Frankly, there weren’t a lot of positives. It is a credit to just how bad Washington can be that this game was this close, and they helped Atlanta out by shooting 2-11 from the 3-point line. It was the return of John Wall for the Wizards, and he scored 14 points and dished out 4 assists in 21 minutes. Nothing particular stands out in the box score aside from a 4-13 shooting night that included a remarkable 8 jump shots from either mid-range or 3-point range. I don’t even know what to say.
In the end, it was another ugly 1-3 week, and the Hawks are in disarray. There is not a definitive “solution”, but instead, several small issues that decided to rear their heads over a two-week period. It’s not time to panic yet, but if the upcoming week looks anything like this one, the natives will be restless.