Hawks make Lakers feel right at home (unlike themselves)

The Hawks seemed outmanned from the outset against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. (Curtis Compton)

The Hawks seemed outmanned from outset against Kobe Bryant and Lakers. (Curtis Compton)

(UPDATED: 10:10 p.m.)

Two days ago, Larry Drew declared the Hawks were “in disarray.” The good thing about being in disarray is that, while everybody might be running in the wrong direction, and possibly into a wall, there’s at least a certain degree of actual existence.

That’s an assumption we can’t make any more.

The Los Angeles Lakers came to town Tuesday night. They didn’t really do anything that special, and they still led the Hawks by 20 points in the third quarter. The final score was believed to be 101-87, although most fans would have a difficult time confirming that because they were running around Philips Arena looking for any unsold Kobe Bryant T-shirt. (More on that shortly).

After a long stretch of road games and the All-Star break, the Hawks needed to establish some kind of direction, preferably upward. They returned home and teased us with a win over Chicago. Then they dropped three straight to Oklahoma City, New York and L.A., dropping engine parts along the way.

Drew wanted his players to run more. They didn’t. He wanted them to attack the basket instead of settling for jump shots. They didn’t. He wanted them to play with more aggression on defense, and by the way, if you want to knock somebody down, really, it’s OK. They didn’t (and didn’t).

So much for the message and maybe the messenger.

“I don’t think we were running hard enough,” Al Horford said. “We started out at the beginning with some energy, but as the game wore on, we didn’t run with that intensity that we needed. Then we struggled in the half court.”

They were coming off a bad loss to the Knicks and playing the defending league champions. How much motivation does one team need?

It’s one thing to lose to the Lakers. It’s another to welcome them into your home and fix them a sandwich.

Here's what the Kobe Bryant T-shirts looked like before they sold out.

Here's what the Kobe Bryant T-shirts looked like before they sold out.

Then again, Philips Arena is starting to resemble at best a neutral site. Loud, drunk and obnoxious Knicks fans (triple redundancy?) took over Sunday. Slightly less drunk, loud and obnoxious Lakers fans (but strong in numbers) took over Tuesday.

Hawks players don’t like this, nor does management. Neither does ownership. But they’re seizing on the economic possibilities. Kobe Bryant T-shirts were being sold for $30 a pop at the Hawks Team Gear store. You couldn’t miss them because they sat on a table, right next to the Al Horford shirts that were being sold for $25.

The Bryant T-shirts sold out before the game. Selling a hockey team should be so easy. It’s a good thing the Lakers weren’t in town for a three-game series or the Atlanta Spirit might open a Lakers Team Gear store.

When told the team was selling Bryant shirts, guard Jamal Crawford responded: “In the arena? Are you serious? Unbelievable.”

I took that to mean he did not sit in the marketing meeting.

Team vice president Arthur Triche said the decision to start selling opponent’s merchandise was announced at a staff meeting last week. “I can see where people would be upset about it,” he said.

It could have been worse. It’s not like the Hawks flew in Jack Nicholson and gave him a courtside seat.

This might not seem like that big of a deal, except for the fact the Hawks are having difficulty establishing much of a home-court advantage. They’re the third-best road team in the Eastern Conference (19-15), but their home record (18-12) ranks only sixth and sinking.

This performance did nothing to alter the perception of the team or future merchandising of their own jerseys.

“Defensively we have to bring a grind-it-out mentality,” Drew said.

They didn’t.

“Offensively we have to get back to running,” he said. We have to get back to getting easy baskets, attacking the rim, getting to the free-throw line instead of just settling for jump shots.”

They didn’t.

Until they do, the opponent will remain the attraction.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

192 comments Add your comment

5150 UOAD

March 8th, 2011
9:39 pm

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Kerpal

March 8th, 2011
9:39 pm

first! Hawks can’t rebound cause they don’t box out and thats why we lost the game. It was the second consecutive pathetic loss and there will be more of it. No matter how far we get in the playoffs, we need to trade for dwight

5150 UOAD

March 8th, 2011
9:40 pm

Let me wake-up give me a second…………………….ZZZZZZZZZ……………………… Ok I think I am awake enough after that game.

First

First to say the HAWKS suck.

Winston

March 8th, 2011
9:41 pm

Is the management still using “elite” to describe this team?

Dubious

March 8th, 2011
9:41 pm

TROTTINGHOME

March 8th, 2011
9:42 pm

When they didn’t hire Casey I predicted it would take till Feburary for this team to get shredded…I think I am reasonably close to that….to bad…I actually hoped I would be wrong.

Kerpal

March 8th, 2011
9:42 pm

Also Teague can’t play. Get rid of him

Kapoonka

March 8th, 2011
9:43 pm

The Hawks are completely exposed. Every real NBA team knows thye are inconsistent pretenders. Can’t wait for my Bulls to get some revenge…they never should have lost that last game…and I promise they will not beat the Bulls again!!

5150 UOAD

March 8th, 2011
9:44 pm

37-27 we are like Memphis and New Orleans. Kill Me Just KILL ME now.
Hewitt at Tech and the Hawks. I don’t think I am done watching ANY basketball for the rest of this year.

Real Talk

March 8th, 2011
9:49 pm

I don’t blame the Hawks fans for not supporting a team when their prime player openly states that he could care less if fans show up or not. After hearing that, I would chant MVP for the opposing teams superstar too!!!

BosnianBaller

March 8th, 2011
9:52 pm

Spirit Group sucks as does Drew!!!!! This team plays with no heart.

NCBravesFan

March 8th, 2011
9:53 pm

Somewhere in the cosmos, Mike Woodson is having a hearty laugh.

jackets20001

March 8th, 2011
10:00 pm

If anyone should be crying after a loss it is the Hawks. Of cource, they don’t have enough heart to feel any pain to make them cry. They are a joke and non relevant in the NBA. No one nationally even speaks of them as an enity in the league. The organization should be ashamed of this non product!!

dayoldfries

March 8th, 2011
10:04 pm

they are nearly a laugh…and nearly a cry.

JSS

March 8th, 2011
10:05 pm

Look what I found …
http://ukelia.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/casper.jpg
Marvin, Joe, Jamal, and Teague pretending to play D… or was that offense?

NCBravesFan

March 8th, 2011
10:06 pm

Pretty bad when Schultz’s post is out on the ‘net at the same time the Hawks are leaving the court at Philips. :lol:

JEC IV

March 8th, 2011
10:06 pm

The Hawks have been surpassed by everybody in the Eastern Conference. And I don’t see them getting any better anytime soon. Plus, Atlanta’s a transplant city anyway. I’m not surprised that Knicks and Lakers fans took over the Highlight Factory (another poorly conceived marketing idea by Hawks mgmt). They might as well try to make money off their opponents being in town. The Hawks certainly aren’t making them any money.

Scott

March 8th, 2011
10:08 pm

NBA is still going on?? 17 comments, come on nobody cares!

O'Brien

March 8th, 2011
10:09 pm

At least Miami lost.

And dont look now, but the Hawks are 2 games in front of the Knicks (in the loss column), and 3 games in front of the Sixers (in the loss column).

We could easily end up in 7th (although whether or not thats a bad thing is debatable).

Go Lakers

March 8th, 2011
10:09 pm

Way to go LAKER NATION! That was Staple Center South tonight! Here we come SOUTH BEACH!

sarfdawg

March 8th, 2011
10:10 pm

It took a few years, but the Hawks have gone back to the minor league franchise they are. Yeah, they got drilled by a far better Orlando team to close out last season. Since then, they canned Woodson and grossly over paid for Joe Johnson. Johnson’s contract alone will hamstring this team for SIX years. Sadly, it’s over already, and the future is hopeless. And, yes NCBravesfan… Woody is getting a good laugh.

J.J.M.

March 8th, 2011
10:12 pm

meanwhile jordan crawford has been playing great with his new team

Peter

March 8th, 2011
10:15 pm

Yes the game was very one sided……I saw it in person……the Hawks gave the crowd nothing to get excited about.

Jeff Teague is not a pro player never mind a first rounder……. What team besides the hawks would want this guy ?

Joe Johnson did the usual fade away, and took horrible shots, besides showing zero hustle. J Smooth is so pissed off most of the time, I bet he would love to leave. I think he has back bone along with Horford and Hinrich.

Finally Marvin Williams is so soft he can’t even post up Derek Fisher.

The ownership is a joke signing Joe, and the mix on this team flat out sucks.

First round they are out……. if they get there !

What the .....????

March 8th, 2011
10:16 pm

Professional Players should be paid off commission, you get whatever you put in… Joe… this is directly mainly at you!!!!

gotten older

March 8th, 2011
10:30 pm

I am just a fan certainly not an expert. The Hawks needed help, they needed players which the ownership either could not or would not provide. I realize owning a n.b.a team is very expensive and very few people or even groups of people can own a team.

The players know more than anyone else they just don’t have the team needed to compete at a high level. Joe Johnson knows he can not measure up to the contract that was offered to him – but in his place would you or I have turned it down? I can’t blame him for signing on the dotted line.

The saddest part of this is I don’t see anyway this team can improve with staying status quo and I sure don’t see any change coming from ownership or g.m. They are the one’s who are suppose to be in charge, aren’t they.

Don’t pay any attention to me – I’ve just gotten older.
Good Night.

TJ

March 8th, 2011
10:30 pm

The Hawks will never be a good team with Horford playing center. He’s a true PF. Oh and signing Joe to that dream contract. Can you say they would be that much worse without him. NO!

mykhalc

March 8th, 2011
10:31 pm

how many games left…19??? Hawks will win 6 more games…PERIOD!!!

maavelous

March 8th, 2011
10:32 pm

Me, Marv the Maaaavelous One was awesome again tonight, but my homies ain’t getting me the ball. I need more shotz!! My feet was flyin tonight but my hands they wuz empty.

Wild Bill

March 8th, 2011
10:32 pm

What is wrong with Joe Johnson, no hustle, terrible shot selection, people always want to blame Smoove, it not him, its Joe. Al talks a good game but he doesn’t show up half the time.

Reid Adair

March 8th, 2011
10:37 pm

Arthur Triche: “I can see where people would be upset about it.”

Really, Arthur? Are you sure you can see it from counting all the money you made off selling the shirts?

It’s a joke, but it’s not a surprise. This is the same ownership/management who told us they weren’t done in free agency last year after giving Joe Johnson a max contract (which was a big mistake); that proved to be a lie.

Then they gave away entirely too much for Kirk Hinrich.

The losing isn’t enough. The owners seem to go out of their way to help make it hard to be a Hawks fan.

Dan

March 8th, 2011
10:38 pm

Hawks need to go back to St. Louis.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 8th, 2011
10:41 pm

This game was lost when LD decided to start the small lineup and try to run the Lakers out of the building. The Lakers saw it coming, cut off all the Hawks’ transition opportunities, and the result was the Hawks’ usual out of sync half court jumper-happy offense. Combine that with the Lakers getting offensive boards left and right as usual against the Hawks’ smaller front line, and the result was very predictable.

scott

March 8th, 2011
10:43 pm

sports teams in Atlanta continue to be a dissapointment..only in Atlanta can you come here and cheer for the opponent..try that in boston,chicagio,philly ,seattle..you would be ran out of the stadium after being pelted with batteries..Atlanta teams..in order to earn respect from the home crowd you gootta win!!

TruthSeeker

March 8th, 2011
10:48 pm

This is the same team as a year ago, and they’re significantly worse. Has to lead you to believe it’s a lack of effort, and LD doesn’t seem to be able to get them to work. It’s time for a change at head coach, although it’d probably be futile considering this roster is broken.

tremaine

March 8th, 2011
10:48 pm

Great article. Lmao!

tremaine

March 8th, 2011
10:50 pm

Larry Drew for coach of the year.

STRETCH

March 8th, 2011
10:51 pm

Im glad they are exposed so everything is coming to light now. MANAGEMENT including Sund is the problem. I hope they move to Savannah! LOL!

tonyb

March 8th, 2011
10:55 pm

Attend my first name in LA…ugh,..Atlanta this year. Have to say, it looks like ASG is working hard to destroy their second pro franchise in Atlanta. Is Joe Johnson the most overpaid pro athlete in all of sports or what. And Kobe remains the best player on the planet.

This needs to be addressed!!

March 8th, 2011
10:57 pm

Jeff, if someone had 410 million dollars in cash, do you think the ASG would bite?

Air Zaza

March 8th, 2011
10:58 pm

Hey Jeff,

Well at least we have trade possibilities for 2011-12.

Reality check

March 8th, 2011
11:00 pm

Keep Horford and clear house. Johnson and Smith are the most over rated players in the league.

Free Fallin'

March 8th, 2011
11:02 pm

Out with Iso-Joe and in with LD’s new offense ! No one attacking the rim even though we have the athletes – Smoove has Blake Griffin athleticism if only he were half as mature – LD seems in over his head – his team is in free-fall mode and the entertainment value is in jeopardy because these games are over at halftime – the biggest draw is all the hotties doing the Hawk Walk on the main level – sheeesh

Gwinnett Fred

March 8th, 2011
11:05 pm

Is it just me or does that comeback win against the Bulls seem like a LONG time ago?

Yet it was only less than a week since that game where Bradley was delcaring some ridiculous thing like “statement win” or some asinine thing like that.

Takes more than ONE victory to make a statement!!!!!

Looking like a 3-8 record this month – AT HOME. The team stinks and the opposition is very VERY stiff coming up.

Might be lucky to finish any higher than the #7 seed – but it doesn’t matter – 5, 6, 7 or 8 and we will be either Boston’s, Miami’s, Chicago’s or Orlando’s bitch in a round one disaster.

If the BS ownership spent the money on the Thrashers that they spent on this Hawks team – they would be pulling in great crowds that would support the HOME TEAM and would have a vastly better chance to advance further in the playoffs than this sad sack bunch.

Tony

March 8th, 2011
11:09 pm

Is Avery Johnson still available? LMAO

UGASlobberknocker

March 8th, 2011
11:11 pm

Drew has gotta go. Then blow it up. This team has no heart.

Reality check

March 8th, 2011
11:12 pm

I was just about the only Hawks fan in my section. Never been to a sporting event like that before in a “home” arena.
Pathetic.

Rock Preston

March 8th, 2011
11:13 pm

Bring back Bimbo Coles and Acie Law IV

Air Zaza

March 8th, 2011
11:22 pm

All Hawks v. Lakers games are like that. You have to remember that Atlanta supports stars and not the Hawks. If the Hawks had a superstar, they would sellout the arena.

misery index

March 8th, 2011
11:29 pm

atlanta—filled with a ton of people from other parts of the country and a bunch of locals who could care less about this miserable hawks team. The hawks will go out in round 1 of the playoffs, then make a bunch of dumb offseason moves and overpay more mediocre players on the roster, followed by more of the same next year. As long as the atlanta chump fans keep buying this stuff, the mediocrity continues.

K.W.

March 8th, 2011
11:36 pm

It’s a shame that the Hawks are losing like this at HOME, and don’t care that their arena is being taken over by the opposing teams fans. Now your own team gear store is selling Kobe Bryant shirts. SMH