I normally don’t re-top a live blog. But the Hawks’ 117-83 loss to Philadelphia at Philips Arena Tuesday night was so humiliating on so many levels that I figured it was worth some sort of recap.
So here goes . . .
They trailed the Sixers — who entered the night with a 7-19 road record — by 20 points in the first quarter (33-13), when they committed seven turnovers and slept on defense (Philly shooting 14 of 23).
They trailed by 32 points at halftime (65-32), which set new standards for the most points allowed and the fewest points scored in the first half this season.
They never trailed by less than 28 points in the second half. (So much for the effect of wall-shaking halftime speeches.)
They played without starting center Al Horford (update below). Zaza Pachulia started in his place. Not that this was all Pachulia’s fault, but it’s worth noting he had as many rebounds at halftime (zero) as Horford, who was wearing a suit.
When it was over, coach Mt. Drew erupted as you would expected. Actually, coach Larry Drew didn’t merely erupt. He threatened to blow up his starting lineup.
Asked if he expected his players to at least rebound with a better effort in the second, Drew responded: “I was expecting that, especially after my halftime talk. But I saw what I saw in the first half. It’s totally unacceptable to come out and play with that type of energy, that type of so-called passion, to play almost as if they don’t care. That’s a reflection of me. If that’s the case, then I’m going to have to make some changes in my starting lineup. I’ve seen that way too often. If that’s the way we’re going to start basketball games, I’m not going to sit here and take it. I’m going to make some changes.”
We’ll see if Drew actually follows through on that when the Hawks play next Saturday against Charlotte. His options would seem limited. He’s not going to bench Joe Johnson or Josh Smith, so that leaves Marvin Williams and Mike Bibby.
One thing is certain: Great teams don’t lose like this, certainly never at home and not even when a key starter is out of the lineup. The Hawks have now done it twice in less than three weeks. They were dropped by New Orleans at home 100-59 Jan. 21.
Drew said he takes “full responsibility” for his players not being ready, but the more he spoke, the more he put on the players. Quoting again: “You’re going to miss shots but there’s no excuse for giving up easy baskets, and it starts with my starters. … We can’t play such a lethargic game when every game has such meaning to us. That’s just totally inexcusable.”
No argument here.
Here’s a link to an Al Horford column I wrote earlier Tuesday:
(Here’s the earlier live blog with Horford news.)
So I came to Hawks’ practice this morning to talk to Al Horford for a column I posted a couple of hours ago, fully expecting to update it after tonight’s game against Philadelphia. But that’s not an issue now.
Horford, who suffered a bruised back when he was clobbered by the Los Angeles Clippers’ rookie Winnebago, Blake Griffin, and knocked to the floor last Friday, is a late scratch for the Sixers game.
It will be the second straight game Horford has missed, although this one is more surprising. Horford said after the morning shoot-around that he would play, but by the evening something had changed. Zaza Pachulia will replace him at center.
“He didn’t feel his back could take the pounding, so we’re keeping him out,” coach Larry Drew said.
It’s probably a wise decision. Horford is too important to the Hawks’ fortunes this season and in the playoffs. They can’t afford to have him aggravate the injury and lose him for an extended period.
But the game goes on. Even without Horford, the Hawks should be able to defeat the Sixers who are 23-27 overall and a horrible 7-19 on the road. The Hawks have won three straight and are 12-4 since January.
That’s it for now. I’ll be blogging live so pull up a laptop. I’ll check back shortly.
By Jeff Schultz