This is the story that got posted Monday night for Tuesday’s paper. Sorry I don’t have more for you. Kind of a busy day.
After losing two games in a row, Hawks coach Larry Drew assured the team Monday that it was not time to panic. He did think, though, that the Hawks need to play better in transition and not settle for jump shots.
This might sound familiar.
After narrowly beating Minnesota Nov. 14, center Al Horford noted the team was a little careless with the basketball and “not necessarily running our offense like we should have.” After losing to New Jersey Dec. 19, Drew said shot selection “was a little bit questionable at times.” After losing to Milwaukee Jan. 26, Drew confessed “it was not a good display of shot selection, which we talk about over and over, especially on the road.”
It may not be time to panic, but the clock is ticking. The Hawks have 19 games remaining, starting with Tuesday night’s game against the two-time defending world champion Los Angeles Lakers at Philips Arena. Since reaching a season-high 13 games above .500 with a win at Washington Feb. 5, the Hawks are 4-8. They’ve lost their last two games, both at home. In the most recent, a 92-79 loss to the New York Knicks Sunday, the Hawks became just the second team in Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni’s three-year tenure to fail to score 80 points, prompting Drew’s observation that “Right now, we’re in disarray.”
After the team’s Monday practice, players used phrases like “in a rut” and “a little bit out of sync” and “no movement on the offensive end” to describe the offensive state of affairs. This does not have the markings of a team ready to make a closing run.
“I have no idea,” guard Joe Johnson said, asked to explain the recent failings. “If I knew, I would say something to the guys, but I don’t know.”
Forward Josh Powell, who won titles with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010, saw a lack of trust.
“What I mean by that is, defensively, little things like rotation, communication, stuff like that,” Powell said. “Offensively, sometimes you have to turn down a good shot to get a great shot or set a screen or make a hard cut, look out for somebody else.”
After poring over film and statistics, Drew and his staff determined that the answer lies in playing more transition basketball. The Hawks have averaged 9.5 fast-break points in their past four games, about five points below their season average.
“That’s not the team we want to be,” Drew said. “We’ve slowed the ball up.”
Of course, the challenge with the Hawks has not necessarily been finding answers, but implementing them. Drew said championship-caliber teams like Boston and the Lakers can figure out their problems and stop slumps quickly.
“Some of the other teams, including ourselves, we haven’t found that yet, how to do that yet,” Drew said. “We allow it to linger and to go on. But I’m confident that we’ll find that little niche on how to stop the bleeding and play the way the game should be played.”