If you want to be optimistic, you can say there’s some solace to be had for the Hawks despite that four-game losing streak. It can be found in the standings, where no team in the East except for Boston has distinguished itself, and more specifically in Atlanta’s 4-1 road record.
(You can also say the three losses at home already cancel that out, but work with me here.)
The Hawks have been more efficient on both offense and defense on the road. Like everything with the Hawks so far, the quality of opponents probably has something to do with that–they had their worst offensive game at Orlando and their best defensive game vs. Detroit–but Atlanta has handled its business on the road.
“So far, so good,” L.D. said. “Just hopefully we can keep it up. Hopefully we are understanding how to play on the road. I’ve always said you have to play with a road mentality. You can’t play as fast, you have to be a little more selective with your shots. Certainly you can’t turn the ball over. All of those are momentum plays for the competition.”
I was thinking about L.D.’s philosophy during the Minnesota game Sunday. The T-Wolves started playing too fast, turning the ball over and jacking up bad shots, and the Hawks seemed to be turning every mistake into a basket. The crowd got into it, the Hawks played with more bounce and suddenly Minnesota was down big.
It might sound strange for a coach to say he wants the team to alter its style on the road but that’s what L.D. believes.
“A lot of people don’t quite understand it, whether they disagree or disagree,” he said. “I think it is important that you control tempo. That doesn’t mean if you are a fastbreak team you don’t get out and run the fastbreak. You still run your fastbreak but you are a little bit more selective with your shots at the end. Because the one thing you don’t want to do is you don’t want to get into a pace that is an advantage for them, especially if you are not making shots.”
Mo sat out practice yesterday with swelling in his knee. He said there might be times when he has to back off but that he expects to be part of the rotation from here on out.
Darren Collison (ankle) and Tyler Hansbrough (ankle) are out for the Pacers. T.J. Ford is starting in Collison’s place. Mike Wells of the Indy Star writes that Collison has had problems with Jim O’Brien’s offense and Ford has been playing late in games.