Things are trending worse for the Atlanta Hawks by the game.
Despite getting rising star forward Jalen Johnson back from an extended injury-related absence, they blew another double-digit lead and have fallen to 12-18 on the season, losing 118-113 to the Chicago Bulls on December 26. It is their third straight loss and ninth in the last 12 outings.
In his press conference after the game, Hawks head coach Quin Snyder spoke candidly about what went wrong for his team.
“The second half, our execution on the defensive end was poor,” Snyder said via the team after the game. They were on the rim the whole half. And you still have a chance to win if we make shots. But if we're not making shots at a given time, and giving up 60 to 70 points in a half, it's not a game we're going to win. And, unfortunately, that was the case tonight.”
Atlanta took a six-point lead into halftime.
But they led by as many as 12 points in the contest, including in the second half. After holding the Bulls to 40.9% shooting from the floor and 3-for-15 from beyond the arc in the first half, however, they let Chicago shoot 50% from the floor overall, including 4-for-10 from deep.
They couldn’t get their three-ball going, shooting just 13-for-45 from the outside. And they got beat up on the glass, going from a plus-three margin in the first half to minus-11 in the second.
“[Andre] Drummond hurt us on the boards,” Snyder admitted.
Drummond got the start in place of the injured Nikola Vucevic, who missed the game with a strained groin. He finished with a 24-point, 25-rebound showing despite both Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu being healthy and active in this one.
The Hawks’ duo combined for just 11 rebounds on the night.
“Collectively we just have to make each possession more important,” Snyder said. “We had some mental mistakes where we did get stops, and either didn't come up with a loose ball or threw the ball away. And we can't afford to put more pressure on ourselves. And if we're not making shots that defensive end becomes even more important.
“Sometimes I think we want to get it back on the offensive end, and we need to get it back on the defensive end. And that just has to be more focus on our defensive execution.”
Lakers targeting Klutch Sports star
As if the Hawks didn’t have enough to deal with on the floor, they are also once again a hot topic in the trade rumor mill. The focus has shifted, though, going from De’Andre Hunter in the wake of the John Collins trade to Capela amid an expected breakout from Okongwu.
Now, it’s Dejounte Murray who is the rumored focal point of rival teams like the Los Angeles Lakers’ interest as the Hawks continue to stumble.
“I'm told a potential target for the Lakers Hawks guard Dejounte Murray,” Shams Charania said on FanDuel TV’s Run It Back on December 26. “[Zach] LaVine is in the second year of a $125 million deal. Dejounte Murray still has four years, $120 million of an extension that kicks in next season. So that's a little bit better when you think about a reasonable salary to be bringing in.”
Charania described the Hawks’ situation as “in flux” and the hefty price paid for Murray who shares representation (Klutch Sports Group) with Lakers star LeBron James. Of course, each team also has another star represented by the agency.
Trae Young -- who was linked to the Lakers in the offseason -- for the Hawks, and Anthony Davis for the Lakers.
“When you look at the Lakers asset pool, they have one first-round pick they can trade now, or they could wait until draft time and they'll have three first-round picks to trade,” Charania said.
“Any deal that the Lakers want to pursue for a star player is going to most likely have to include the names of guys like Austin Reaves, Max Christie,” Charania continued. “The Lakers, obviously, have shown no inclination of moving Austin Reaves.”