Auburn Hills–No excuses for the Hawks this time. The Pistons saw the Hawks missing their leading scorer (J.J.) and raised them their top three (Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rodney Stuckey, who left the game early).
– In 15 road games since the All-Star break, the Hawks are 5-8 when they either had a lead or a tie in the fourth quarter. Of those games, tonight was the fifth time the Hawks blew a lead in the final two minutes.
– After this latest collapse the Hawks sounded much the same as they did following the others. “Same thing,” Mo said. “We just relaxed a little bit and got careless and thought we had the game in the bag and we let it slip away.”
– “We self-destructed again coming down the stretch,” Woody said. “We’ve got to figure it out.”
– And it’s not simply a matter of getting one of their closers back in J.J., who after all was on the floor for six of those eight blown road losses. “(Even) when he was here, we had to figure that out,” Jamal said.
– “Joe is a big part of what we do,” Woody said. “No doubt we are better with him on the floor. But we controlled this game until the end tonight. We didn’t make the plays we needed down the stretch.”
– Since the Hawks say these things over and over and yet still keep blowing these leads on the road, could it be they simply aren’t good enough? Because the Cavs, Magic and Celtics close out opponents on the road and they are 1-2-3 in the East. The Hawks are good enough to dominate at home and almost always give themselves a chance on the road but they can’t put up consistent Ws, so they are No. 4.
– The glaring number was the 16 points the Hawks scored in the fourth quarter. That’s the fifth time the Hawks failed to break 20 points in those eight blown road losses.
– The Pistons shot just 8 of 21 in the fourth quarter but were 7 of 7 on free throws to 3 for 8 for the Hawks had no turnovers to the Hawks’ three.
–”We missed free throws, we missed shots we normally make, we had turnovers,” Bibby said. “We were up one with the ball and it just didn’t go the way we wanted it to go.”
– That’s because with the Hawks leading 85-84 they threw the ball away and Bibby was called for a foul while trying to get it back. Good start for Bibby but a bad finish. “It was our veteran guards that turned it over,” Woody said. “That just shouldn’t happen.”
– Bibby then had to rush a 3-pointer after Ben Wallace deflected a pass that went into the backcourt. How does that happen on such a crucial possession?
– Before that, Josh missed two big free throws. They’ve become a problem. He’s down to 61.2 percent for the season. He’s also still taking (and missing) long jumpers. If one or the other keeps happening, then maybe it’s OK because of the many good things he does. If both continue, especially in fourth quarters, it could mean trouble.
– It seemed like it took two seconds for Austin Daye to collect Smoove’s second missed free throw and give it to Will Bynum for a ridiculously easy and-1. It actually took 6.5 seconds so I guess that means the Hawks offered resistance by their standards.
– Jamal was just 2 for 7 in the fourth quarter and missed all four 3-point attempts. He probably will benefit the most from J.J.’s return.
– The Hawks were outclassed by a young, ragtag group of Pistons. Daye, Bynum, and Jonas Jerebko all made winning plays. “We just gave this game away, I thought,” Woody said.
– Ben Gordon has done a little something in the league, at least, but then doesn’t that make it worse that the Hawks left him open at the 3-point line when they were up 84-78? Of course, losing shooters in crucial situations is nothing new for the Hawks, either.
– “Ben hit some big threes for them because we were hugging on the weak side because we didn’t rotate,” Woody said.”Those are things we have to clean up as we come down the home stretch and start thinking about playoff basketball.”
– “It’s turnovers, missed free throws, a lot of things that happen that let leads get away from us,” Smoove said.
– “We’ve got to figure it out,” Jamal said. “We play good for 3 1/2 quarters on the road and then we fall apart late.”
– It’s starting to feel like the Hawks will be saying the same thing after they are dismissed from the playoffs. Man, has any 50-win team (probably?) ever had so many issues? Or are these things really correctable and I’m just making too much of it?
– I’m out, Hawks fans.