Newark, N.J.–There’s not been much in between for the Hawks when they lose. They have seven Ls and they’ve all happened in two basic ways: Surrender from the start, or falter at the end.
– This one was in the latter category, and what does it say about the Hawks that losing in a competitive effort at New Jersey represents progress? That’s how it goes when you show any life at all the night after melting down to the Celtics.
– Better effort, but it’s still a loss. That’s three in a row and seven in nine games since the the 6-0 start. Can’t use the good opponent crutch for this one, either.
– “As long as we stay together, we will be all right,” said Bibby, stoic as always. “You lose some games. You can’t win all 82. We’ve got a lot of games left. We can’t get down.”
– You had to figure Atlanta’s tendency to earn tightrope Ws in these road games against also-rans would eventually go bad. Unfortunately for them, it happened the night after the Celtics debacle.
– “The effort was there,” Jamal said. “It just didn’t go our way. We expended so much energy getting back in the game we didn’t have enough to finish.”
– The Hawks rallied to force overtime after trailing by 10 in the third quarter. They never could take the lead because once they got close in the fourth quarter they traded baskets and turned over the ball.
– “It was difficult [to lose] when you fight that hard after that game last night,” L.D. said.
– Too bad for the Hawks it took them until the second quarter to find some fight. The Nets led 31-21 after a quarter because they had clear passage to the basket and exploited one of their two clear mismatches, feeding Brook Lopez for 15 points on 5 of 7 shooting.
– “We did everything we could to give Al help on Lopez,” L.D. said.
– Jason Collins and especially Zaza provided some resistance for Lopez after the opening period. Then the inevitable happened and Devin Harris started zigging and zagging around Atlanta’s guards while scoring 23 points after halftime.
– “Harris has always been a tough guard for us because of his speed and quickness,” Drew said. “They run a lot of pick-and-rolls for him. He’s clever with the ball, shifty with the ball. He knows how to create contact. When he’s making his jump shot he’s difficult to stop.”
– The Hawks went retro with some Iso-Joe and Jamal. It was a mixed bag. They rallied behind a combined 14 points on 5 of 6 shooting from those two in the fourth quarter. But costly turnovers by both cost them possessions when the game was there to be taken late in regulation.
– “I wanted Jamal and Joe to be aggressive,” L.D. said.
– Josh took 21 shots and missed 12. Lots of jumpers in that tally.
– Joe continues to be miserable on 3-pointers. He did grab six rebounds. No glove tonight.
– Marvin made 3 of 4 shots, including a 3 that got Atlanta within 70-67 at the end of the third. But he had just two rebounds in 24 minutes on a night when Al and Smoove needed all the help they could get.
– Zaza (six rebounds in 11 minutes) lended a hand. He was strong in keeping Lopez off the boards and even frustrated him a couple times.
– It was one thing for Harris and Lopez to get theirs. Anthony Morrow made a couple key open 3-pointers in the fourth, but let that slide because Farmar and Harris broke the Hawks down off the dribble to set him up.
– But Kris Humphries getting 12 points and 14 rebounds by basically being physical and persistent? That’s just not cool.
– The Hawks were griping a bit about the free-throw disparity (33-13) and it’s true they didn’t get a couple calls when things got tight at the end. Josh appeared to get hacked on two straight possessions when they were down 93-88.
– But the Nets weren’t getting calls by that point, either, and they earned those 19 attempts in the first half.
– The Hawks squandered chances to take control early in the fourth quarter. They were down 72-69 when Teague and Jamal had turnovers on consecutive possessions. Jamal’s came after a timeout; his pass for Al in the post was off the mark.
– Another Teague turnover led to Morrow’s 3-pointer to make it 80-77 and Morrow made a second 3-pointer after Crawford threw away a pass following a Hawks timeout.
– Joe was so intent on bullying Harris to the basket he got called for a travel with the Hawks down 91-88.
– Avery Johnson has two talents in Lopez and Harris and a top prospect in Favors. He’s got the rest of the Nets playing scrappy ball.
– “I’ve been saying all along how much I love this team,” Avery said. “I love working with them on a day in and day out basis and you can see why. The team played their heart out, and they really deserved to win tonight. Nothing against Atlanta, they’re a great team, but we deserved to win.”
– “They are definitely not the same team as last year,” Jamal said.
– As for the Hawks, well . . . ah, nevermind.
– “We just have to keep working,” L.D. said. “We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. Throughout the season you are going to have ups and downs. You have to learn how to handle adversity and it makes you stronger.”
– I’m out, Hawks fans.