Vivlamore reporting from New York City where the Hawks play the Knicks on Wednesday – their first-hand look at the Linsanity that has caused such a stir in this city.
See update on Joe Johnson injury below.
Twice in a span of eight days, the Hawks fell flat on a national television stage. They lost to the Heat 107-87 at home with ESPN in the house. Monday they fell to the Bulls 90-79 on a Presidents Day telecast by the network. Before both games, coach Larry Drew said, in effect, if his team couldn’t get motivated for such a contest there is something wrong.
Judging by the results, something is wrong.
Following Monday’s game, I spoke with Joe Johnson about why the team has a motivation problem and plays with a lack of energy at times. Here are his comments:
“When I look at our team, we are a very talented team, but I [don’t know] whether guys know their roles or not,” Johnson said. “We know the right thing to do. A lot of times we don’t come out and do it. I just think we should all have one agenda, one goal and that is winning the basketball game. Not who scores what, who does what. I think we are too self conscious about [who is] scoring and the little things that really don’t matter. For us to win the game we have to put all of that to the side and help one another on both ends of the floor. If we don’t do that, we are going to continue to struggle to win games. I think we have to put a lot into perspective about how good we want to be as a team or what direction we are headed in or what are our goals. Right now I’m not sure if everyone has that one common goal – and that is winning.
“We’ve had spurts where we’ve played great together. The ball movement has been great. We’ve had times when we haven’t been so great. Times we haven’t been so great, we have struggled as a team. I know it’s noticeable. I think we just have to start getting the ball into the right people’s hands who make plays, who score the basketball and make others better. That’s it.”
I also sought the veteran’s perspective from Jerry Stackhouse on the issues facing the Hawks, who have lost seven of their past 10 games.
“You are going to have those stretches during the course of the season when it seems like you are struggling a little bit, you don’t know when you are ever going to win again,” Stackhouse said. “You have them a couple times. We are going through one right now. It’s not like we are laying down until the [all-star] break, but I think the break will be good for us. We’ve played a lot of games. Guys are probably a little banged up, a little tired. With all that, the trust wanes a little bit. We’ll get it back. All it takes is a good spirited win.”
UPDATE: Johnson, did not travel with the team to New York today and is returning to Atlanta for an MRI on his left knee. He will not play in the next two games (at New York Wednesday, vs. Orlando Thursday). Johnson has been hampered by tendinitis in his left knee and it caused him to leave Monday’s game in the third quarter and not return.
The Hawks expect to get Marvin Williams back. The forward left the team Sunday due to a death in the family and missed Monday’s game.
I will update from tomorrow morning’s shoot-around.