If the Hawks could make a holiday wish, what would it be? CineSport’s Noah Coslov gets the answer from The AJC’s Chris Vivlamore as they discuss the new-look Hawks.
PHILADELPHIA — If there is a lesson to be learned from the Hawks’ recent games, including the loss to the Thunder Wednesday, it had better sink in fast.
While the big picture shows the Hawks having won 12 of the past 16 games, a closer look shows a different trend. The Hawks have lost two of the past three games. They were handed a 22-point home loss by the Warriors last week. They needed overtime to beat the lowly Wizards Tuesday. They trailed the Thunder by 17 points before a comeback fell short in a 100-92 loss Wednesday.
“Your pride kicks in,” Hawks guard Kyle Korver said of the Hawks rally against the Thunder. “There are a lot of competitors in this locker room. I thought our energy level picked up. We are not a team that is going to lie down. But we’ve had a couple tough games at home. We have to get better and learn from these losses.”
There isn’t much time.
The Hawks (15-8), off Thursday, play at the 76ers Friday in the middle of a stretch of four games in five days in three cities. It concludes with a home game against the Bulls Saturday. This will be the Hawks’ sixth of back-to-back games this season and they end 2012 with two more. They are 8-2 in back-to-back games this season.
Hawks coach Larry Drew will go for his 100th career victory against the 76ers. With a 99-72 record in his two-plus seasons he would become the eighth Atlanta head coach to reach century win mark.
The 76ers (12-14) have lost five straight games as they continue to play without Andrew Bynum. The center has yet to play for this season due to bilateral knee bone bruises.
The Bulls (14-10) present a different challenge as they lead the Central Division despite not having star guard Derrick Rose.
Against the Thunder, Kevin Durant would have nothing to do with a Hawks comeback.
The Thunder star scored a game-high 41 points, including 18 in the fourth quarter, as the Hawks failed to overcome the large deficit.
The Hawks pulled to within four points, 73-69, early in the fourth quarter. Then Durant went to work. He scored 18 of the Thunders’ next 22 points, including a stretch of 13 straight.
The Hawks continued to fight but could never pull closer.
“He’s very, very talented,” Hawks swingman DeShawn Stevenson said of Durant. “Sometimes you can play good defense but even good defense is not good enough for a guy who is 7-foot tall with a jump shot like that, with a handle. Tonight he had a great night. It was his night.”
Russell Westbrook added 27 points for the Thunder (21-4), who improved on their NBA-best record with their 12th straight victory. Westbrook scored 21 first-half points as the Thunder built their biggest lead in the second quarter. Durant and Westbrook accounted for 68 percent of the offense. Durant added 13 rebounds and Westbrook had 11 assists to complete double-doubles.
The Hawks were led by Jeff Teague with 19 points. Josh Smith added 17 points and 12 rebounds. Al Horford and Lou Williams scored 13 points apiece.
“It seems as the game progressed we wore down,” Drew said of the first half. “We weren’t as sharp executing our sets. That resulted in some bad shots. We had a lot of bad shots in that first half. That was the reason we got down. I told the guys at halftime, when you play against a good team, a team who defends the way they do, you have to trust in what you do. It’s not a time to fragment. I thought early we played too much one-on-one and it resulted in a lot of bad shots. They got out and ran and attacked us to the run.”
FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @AJCHAWKS