Atlanta Hawks: Bobcats 96, Hawks 85
Charlotte–The starters were -53 in this game, a number that’s enhanced by Zaza and Hinrich the entire third quarter alongside reserves. Over the final four games of the season Atlanta’s starters were -215.
- The Hawks finished with 44 Ws and a six-game losing streak. They were 11-20 after Feb. 5.
- The Hawks didn’t put much into these last four games. It’s still not a good look for a group with a history of taking that approach for games in which the outcome does matter.
- L.D.: “I was hoping it wouldn’t end like this. Those couple of games on the road, at Indiana and Washington, I was really hoping the guys would play at a high level but they didn’t respond to that. Now that this thing is over with, we have got to flip the switch. I am pretty confident we will do that.”
- The Hawks say they will be ready come Saturday.
- Al: No question. We were in a different situation since we already clinched. I felt like our focus shifted a little bit because we felt secure. We didn’t feel the need to go out there and play like that. Now it’s different. The playoffs are here and our minds are shifting towards that.”
- “We don’t have much of a choice,” J.J. said. “I am sure we will be ready.”
- “We will be ready for sure,” Jamal said. “Get some practices in, have the proper preparation, and we will be ready to go.”
- “What I saw these last four was not the team I saw a week and a half ago against Boston and two weeks ago against Orlando,” Drew said. “They turned the switch off. Now it’s time to turn it back on.”
- The end-of-bench guys gave a pretty good account of themselves again. Josh Powell, Damien, Etan and Pape Sy all contributed.
- The reserves played the Bobcats even after the starters opened the game nonchalantly. Then Al and J.J. returned in the second quarter and things went awry again.
- Drew finally threw in the towel for his starters after that. “I could have played them the second half but with the energy I saw the first half, it would have just been jeopardizing those guys,” he said.
- After halftime the Hawks made a game of it with their backups. Maybe this means the reserves can take some confidence into the postseason.
- “I hope so,” Damien said. “I don’t expect to get those type of minutes during the playoffs but anything is possible. We will see. All of the guys who have been getting these minutes the last couple games just want to play. At the same time, we have a good group, guys that have been here, guys that have experience in the playoffs. We have just got to find a way to keep winning.”
- Hinrich was the only regular starter to play after halftime and he finally had a positive run: 4 of 7 from the field and he kept Augustin in check. Hinrich appeared to have more pep than he had lately. “My primary focus at the start of that third quarter was to get Kirk in a rhythm,” Drew said.
- Zaza had 10 rebounds. Soon after he left the game in the first half Kwame Brown got going.
- J.J.’s jump shot is still missing. He’s been getting his post-ups and floaters lately but those won’t come so easy with Dwight roaming the paint.
- Josh wasn’t noticeable out there. He says the knee is good.
- Al logged just 10 minutes: “I thought I was going to play a little more but at the end of the day I needed the rest. Just looking forward to having a good practice tomorrow.”
- L.D. said the practice sessions over the next two days would be mostly about “mental work” without much in the way of contact.
- It’s come to this for the Hawks: Twin sat out while the normal starters played because he’s indispensable vs. Orlando. “The last thing we would need is for him to hurt the ankle again or something weird to happen,” Drew said.
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat