Somewhere over the Midwest – Pretty brutal loss last night. The defense was nonexistent, or, as Mike Woodson put it, “awful.” I suspected the Hawks wouldn’t have it last night. For one, Denver has just run over everyone that has come into the Pepsi Center – the Nuggets have now won 23 of their last 24 there going back to the regular season. In losing by 20, the Hawks have pretty good company – the Lakers lost by 26, Utah lost by 11, Miami by 18.
I agree with what Dan said in the game thread. The game was lost in the first quarter – the Hawks spent the whole game chasing. They could get the lead down to 8, 10, 12, and then the Nuggets dropped some more 3-pointers on them. Perhaps if they could have tied it up, they might have gotten some more energy from that, but I think they just didn’t have enough in them. I imagine the Nuggets believe no one can beat them at home, and that is a powerful thing.
Here’s the thing – the Hawks beat the same team by even more points last month. (without J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin, of course, but with Chauncey Billups) Denver was on a back-to-back (as were the Hawks), but also on the road and playing its fourth road game in five days. It showed. The Nuggets are not that bad.
Wednesday, the Hawks were on a back-to-back Wednesday, obviously tired, and it showed. The Hawks are not this bad, either. The notion that the Hawks have all these flaws – and I acknowledge there’s a difference between saying the team is flawed and having issues with coaching decisions – because they got torched by Denver doesn’t fly, given that they were obviously good enough to do the same thing to the Nuggets a month and a half ago.
It’s a disappointing result – it was interesting to me that Al Horford said the team wasn’t “tough enough” and that “we didn’t respond” – but I think the team shakes this off. As much as I figured the Hawks would lose Wednesday, I think you’ll see a much better performance Saturday against Indiana. The Cleveland back to back, in my opinion, will be a better barometer than Denver was.
Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah to everyone. I hope you are able to spend this time with the people closest to you.