Hawks lose again — and it’s clear they need some help

Joe Johnson and the Hawks have fallen flat the last three games after a 16-6 start. (AP photo)

Joe Johnson and the Hawks have fallen flat the last three games after a 16-6 start. (AP photo)

One week ago, the Hawks won a game by 23 points in Toronto. They went 4-1 on a road trip — their most successful trip in 43 years — and held one of the best records in the NBA at 16-6.

Then the team came home, and it was like watching Sybil change personalities.

The Hawks lost to the 9-14 Phoenix Suns, 99-90, on Monday night at Philips Arena. That makes three straight home losses to Memphis, Philadelphia and Phoenix. They’ve trailed by 20-plus points in all three games.

The one thread in the three losses has been a mixed effort.

There are several reasons why this may have happened. The most obvious: Being undersized without two centers, Al Horford (potentially out for the season) and Jason Collins (sidelined for two weeks), has led to physical fatigue, which has led to mental fatigue.

Players are not nearly as aggressive as they were earlier in the season. They’re not sharing the ball as much. They’ve  probably has lost some confidence.

“We didn’t respnd well to their runs,” coach Larry Drew said after the Phoenix game. “I just don’t see how we can respond as if the game’s over.”

Here’s what has become obvious: This team needs some help.

General manager Rick Sund’s ability to make a trade is hamstrung by payroll issues. Any significant acquisition would put the Hawks into a tax situation, and there’s no indication that ownership is willing to pay that premium. But Sund can’t afford to sit back and do nothing, but to assume these problems are just going away is a dangerous game.

The Hawks were just starting to get some deserved attention. But after three straight flat performances at home, they’re threatening to slip off the landscape again.

On that note: pitchers and catchers report in two weeks.

I’ll have more on this tomorrow after speaking to Drew, Sund and some players. But I wanted to get your early thoughts on this team.

The floor is yours.

By Jeff Schultz

140 comments Add your comment

Big Dawg

February 6th, 2012
10:40 pm

First. About to make a huge turnaround!!!

painter

February 6th, 2012
10:41 pm

Mediocrity fails time and time again.

Buford Pusser

February 6th, 2012
10:41 pm

Can we send them to a new city ?

IceColdATLien

February 6th, 2012
10:42 pm

Unbelievably bad that Sund has done nothing yet.

IceColdATLien

February 6th, 2012
10:45 pm

I understand that Sund’s hamstrung to a certain extent, but isn’t that why he gets paid such a crazy salary? Earn the paycheck by being creative and make something happen.

Derek

February 6th, 2012
10:47 pm

Did we really expect anything other than the fall back to earth w/o Al?! Joe is overpaid, Josh is old yet immature, marvin is young yet old, teague is inexperienced and we dont have a center…Blow it up after this year, and/or go get Dwight

Let's Be Honest

February 6th, 2012
10:48 pm

They’re done.

The emptiest stadium in Atlanta is about to look abandoned!

Let's Be Honest

February 6th, 2012
10:49 pm

There’s not pressure to win. Only one reporter at the game, one columnist asking question, and 11 fans in the stands. What a joke of a franchise.

Winnipeg Hawks

February 6th, 2012
10:50 pm

Hard to win a game when your starting line up is sitting on the bench next to the coach for the final 8 minutes of the game…

Let's Be Honest

February 6th, 2012
10:54 pm

Worst fans in sports.

Nerehere

February 6th, 2012
10:56 pm

The only impetus for the Hawks is to back into the playoffs, period. They’ll probably still get there-unless they go on a thirty-nine game losing streak. They won’t get any help from Detroit, though or Milwakee.

Atlanta Spirit Sucks

February 6th, 2012
10:57 pm

But Gearon said the ASG isn’t cheap. Besides, the losing streak is all Schultz’s fault, just ask Gearon

Atlanta Spirit Sucks

February 6th, 2012
10:58 pm

Besides, the Hawks are just an expensive hobby, just ask Gearon.

Chas

February 6th, 2012
11:03 pm

Let’s be Honest indeed. I think you meant to say “smartest fans in sports” didn’t you? If you beat a dog for 40 years do you expect that dog to be loyal to you? Why should fans support a franchise that has never been to the Eastern Conference finals let alone win a championship. I like our players, but ownership is a joke. It is not about the fans it is about the product. I feel bad for the players though. We need to break this team down and reengineer for the future.

Let's Be Honest

February 6th, 2012
11:08 pm

Yes you’re smart because you stay away. And that strategy worked so well for the Thrashers, right?

tree rollins

February 6th, 2012
11:08 pm

I’ve offered to come back and assist – Dikembe has offered to join me. Without us they have no chance!

Nerehere

February 6th, 2012
11:08 pm

Empty seats are the norm at the Phillips. Who wants to get in their car, pay high gas prices-to drive downtown, pay for parking, spend money on concessions-all to be let down by this mediocre team-the hawks? You don’t even want to think about taking Marta, it’s not SMARTA. Some people may come to see other teams superstars like Blake, Kobe, Lebron, etc., but not the Hawks. Cause they stink. The Phillips may want to try to hold free concert packages like they used to do when they were even more apathetic and sorry than are right now. Nobody is bothering to go to these games anymore. The fan base, (what fan base) is disolving rapidly. Better to stay at home, save gas, and flip the remote control in the comfort of your own home. They should just black-out these Sport South games, and save the viewing public the agony of watching this bull.

tree rollins

February 6th, 2012
11:09 pm

I could dunk over any of those guys they have now…

Chas

February 6th, 2012
11:10 pm

I remember an interview a few years ago with an Asg owner who said, “we are spending money” as if all they had to do was throw money around and they would build a champion. Unfortunately they did not approach building a team the same way one should build any business…with patience and a keen eye for a return on individual investments.

Joe

February 6th, 2012
11:10 pm

What a mess!!!!!! And the sad thing is that unless they blow this “core group” up not much can be done in making this franchise competitive for a CHAMPIONSHIP for many years. The ownership is a joke,the coach appears clueless and you can see these players have all but given up.
It will be interesting Sunday night, in all likelihood the Hawks will be in the midst of a 5 game losing streak, getting ready to face the heat and m. Gearon will be addressing the season ticket holders. Ought to be a blast!

Chas

February 6th, 2012
11:13 pm

Let’s be honest would you go to a crummy restaurant night after night if you hated the food and the staff treated you poorly? If you say yes you are either a liar or too dumb for your own good.

Chas

February 6th, 2012
11:13 pm

Let’s be honest would you go to a crummy restaurant night after night if you hated the food and the staff treated you poorly? If you say yes you are either a liar or too dumb for your own good.

Najeh Davenpoop

February 6th, 2012
11:14 pm

They need a reliable center, more offensive responsibility vested in Teague, and less minutes at point guard for Kirk.

GET A DAMN BIG MAN SUND

leear1n

February 6th, 2012
11:14 pm

Well said Chas the fans does not play the game we pay to see the professionals play
I am not going to pay to be let down.If the owners don’t care why should I.

tree rollins

February 6th, 2012
11:15 pm

Rick Sund has done a nice job with this team – he just can’t manufacture trees out there! Ain’t no cheap big boys. ‘cept maybe me or Chris Washburn!

Chas

February 6th, 2012
11:17 pm

I did have Thrashers tickets btw. I love hockey, but got tired of perennial losers. Fans or lack thereof did not drive away the Thrashers. The owners did. There are many warm weather cities that have hockey so don’t blame the fans.

Jeremy morton

February 6th, 2012
11:17 pm

BLOW UP THE TEAM ALREADY

Perry

February 6th, 2012
11:18 pm

The hawks were fine until Hinrich came back, getting way too many minutes!!!!!!!!!

Chas

February 6th, 2012
11:23 pm

The irony now is that the Asg would be afraid to blow up the team (I.e. see Joe Johnson’s contract) even if it could increase the chance of a championship in the future. They are too concerned with losing fan interest In the short run and are hopeful we are close to a ring. Nothing is more boring to me than an Nba team that is stuck in playoff land with little chance of a great draft pick but no chance of a championship.

tree rollins

February 6th, 2012
11:27 pm

Me and Washburn would give up the ripple and the malt liquor to get back out there! Hinrich ain’t no good – neither is JoJo! JSmoov – that dude can play!

The Truth

February 6th, 2012
11:27 pm

Stop living in “video game world” people. This is REAL LIFE. Trades don’t happen until teams after the All Star Break. The Hawks aren’t getting Howard. They don’t have enough to trade for him and he won’t resign with the team next year if they did. Blow the team up? Start Over? Wow, apparently no one posting here has paid attention to the last 20 years of Hawks basketball. Be happy we are as good as we are right now. To all the Hawks-Haters if you dislike the Hawks so much why are you even reading and commenting on a Hawks blog? Did your xbox break or something?

Pistol Pete

February 6th, 2012
11:29 pm

Lifelong Hawks, Falcons and Braves Fan here. Trying to watch the Hawks used to be entertaining not anymore. The Hawks play with no fire. Plodding up and down the court no emotion. Charles Barkley was absolutely right on his assessment of the team. I guess the Hawks will be the next team to leave Atlanta and to be honest I could care less. Why would anybody go pay good money to watch a group of un-motivated player’s? I know I won’t be wasting my money going to games unless there are major changes. Hell can hardly watch a full half of a game name on T.V.
Off subject Falcons aren’t much better, Braves pushing hard to jump in the boat with the Falcons and Hawks.

BRAD

February 6th, 2012
11:30 pm

IT’S THE OWNERSHIP!!! THE HAWKS GOT SOLD DOWN THE RIVER BY THE PREVIOUS OWNER TO A GROUP AND NO BIG FREE AGENTS WILL COME HERE. IT WILL NOT CHANGE. INSIDER TRADING ALL ABOUT THE DOLLARS AND THE CITY LOSES.

Chas

February 6th, 2012
11:30 pm

Don’t get me wrong though. I like our players and coach, just don’t care for Asg or where this team is heading. I loved the Hawks in the Dominique era and went to all the games. Now that was a product the fans loved. And they did go to games despite a much smaller population in the city. Oh, last comment … Got to change the college basketball one and done so that players have to play 3 years or enter the draft from high school or wherever. The one and domes are killing the NBA and college basketball.

tree rollins

February 6th, 2012
11:32 pm

The Truth is tellin’ the truth! We’re lucky to have this sadsack group. We might be back in the Isiah Rider days and the days of Mookie Blaylock. Wait til Al comes back – then this league will have hell to pay!

The Truth

February 6th, 2012
11:37 pm

Hey look Josh Smith just tried shooting another 3….and brick. Keep it up Josh I here 1 out of every 6 go in. YOU ARE AWESOME!

doc

February 6th, 2012
11:37 pm

jeff, having watched the last tree games live, it is not a pretty sight to behold. this team is better but i remember better games in 06 and 07 than what i have seem the last three games. by sunday they could fall from 10 games over 500 to 4 games. we may have already seen the upside to this season.

we were short before the season and collins is a luxury, not a viable big and everyone except sund realizes this. we are undersized to even the suns and i might add they would be undersized even with al. get busy or give up.

man did the basg ever miss out on the energy that came in 08 after the celts series and we crested in 09. time for the basg to wake up before no fans are there. between the economy crashing, their lack of making changes to balance the team and their pr gaffs, this franchise is done.

Chas

February 6th, 2012
11:41 pm

For anyone that was not living in the city during the mid to late eighties search on YouTube for Dominique 1988. The fans were very loyal to that team and they never got very far in the playoffs. Has the city changed? The team? The Nba? The owners? The culture? Little bit of everything I am afraid.

tree rollins

February 6th, 2012
11:45 pm

Extreme times call for desperate measures. We need to get rid of these big lugs like Marvin and JoJo and his boat anchor of a salary and go with a compact team that’s entertaining. Start with Spud Webb at point, get the Jimmer at the 2, Mugsy Bogues at center, Tiny Archibald at power forward, and Berrea at small forward. Now I’d pay to go see that!

Stan

February 7th, 2012
12:51 am

Never understood why Drew take out the starter why the game in on the line. If the second team is more motivated started themnever seem Kobe or Lebron on the bench the entire forth quarter and game in the line

Eric C.

February 7th, 2012
12:51 am

When Horford went down, the team was challenged and responded with spunk and tenacity and looked great. Passing the ball around, great shooting, great defense on the road trip, but it burned them out…now they come home and hope the wins will fall in their laps. The team is too depleted to keep the fire going and maintain that level…just tough luck. The rest of the season will be a struggle to stay above .500. What else cay you say…there is very little hope left for a successful season without a replacement for Horford.

Eric C.

February 7th, 2012
12:54 am

Chas, great points…the dynamo Celtics were the biggest road block for the Hawks in the late 80s, just couldn’t break through, but that Hawks team was very fun to watch.

superiorblogman

February 7th, 2012
2:25 am

The best thing we can do now is trade Josh Smith for Brook Lopez and Okur since they really want Dwight. Sending Josh to New Jersey and getting Lopez along with Okur’s expiring will give you the chance to just sign Lopez to Josh’s contract this summer.

If that does not work just send Josh to any team that will give up a lotto pick for him.

Then tank. We have either Brook Lopez and 1 Lotto pick and the lineup looks like.

Teague
Joe
Perry Jones III
Horford
Brook Lopez

Or we have 2 Lotto picks.

Teague
Joe
Perry Jones III
Al Horford
Andre Drummond

or

Teague
Joe
Perry Jones III
Anthony Davis
Al Horford

What no saints and packers

February 7th, 2012
3:24 am

Hey Brad first of all ASG had own Hawks and thrashers since 99 u idiot and they still are it was can when the Pizza fellow was voted down for buyin so The Three stooges had keep team along with Harpo as GM….I told u clods that hawks have no class and bad Owners like former hockey team that why ASG Hired Waddell so they could sale there product to winnipeg in 12 years ..So all u AJC writers who hide remember this when next Press confernce by ASG is hawks are goin to Buffalo next season and become the Buffalo braves!

Steck Money

February 7th, 2012
4:30 am

First off, born and raised a Hawks fan……Ownership! Ownership! Ownership! Does anybody remember how bad the Dallas Mavericks were before Cuban? Now they are the champs! When the owner cares he makes better hires. Look at our past and present GM, We had a chance to hire Jerry west! but ownership did not want to pay him 1 million dollars! look who they drafted, its horrible, if we had an owner that cared we could have these players……and if you are standing please sit down! we could have….drum roll………Pau Gasol, Chris Paul, Luol Deng, Rudy Gay. The Hawks have made the worst franchise decisions ever! If anyone can explain what I’m about to say as logical, you should be GM. The Atlanta Hawks Traded Pau Gasol to the Grizzlies for Shareef Abdur Rahim…..thats not the part I’m mad at…then we Hire the Grizzlies GM that just made that trade with us?!? WTF!!! and that clown ruined the Hawks, Will not say his name! The Hawks will never win with this core group, sad to say. Here are the top 5 Hawks franchise blunders, no particular order…….
1. Not Drafting Chris Paul
2. 4 picks 1st round in ‘99 and we get JT (now a champ and could have traded other 3 for a top pick)
3. not hiring Jerry West as GM
4. Hiring Mike Woodson instead of Doc Rivers
That’s why we wont win here is why we have never won
Sheldon Williams, Roy Marble, Adam Keefe, Ed Grey, Chris Washburn, Priest Lauderdale, Cal Bowdler, Demarr Johnson Acie Law XXIVCL. Draft those guys and you might win a NBDL playoff game!
I love the Hawks but I bet there are 10 people on this blog that could run them better!

Jon Konkak

February 7th, 2012
6:21 am

I’m available if the Hawks want to bring in a good big man

tony

February 7th, 2012
6:38 am

Maybe the people in the state of ga need to check themselves if they truely want to know why teams in Atlanta are so unsuccessful. Eventhough I was born in this state, I will never tell anyone to move here because the people are mean and insensitive. I’ve been to many states in my life time but I have never experience as much, separatism, insensitivity and racism(black/white) in other states like I have in my own state.

Evil ways creates misfortune and disapointments. Galatian 6:7,8 James chapter 1. If you want good things to come your way, just be good to all people.

TC

February 7th, 2012
6:41 am

Part of the problem is Drew throws in the towel way too early. Last night the Hawks cut it to 9 with about three minutes to go. That is a very winable game. He had pargo, stackhouse, ivan (which is good) vladovich? and willie green. Is that a line up that you put in to win the game? Absolutly not. Somebody please explain why Drew would have those guys on the court with the game on the line. With the exception of Ivan Johnson of course.

beejayrufino

February 7th, 2012
7:25 am

Trade Kirk now, I’m finally convinced Kirk for Kaman

ekd

February 7th, 2012
7:33 am

who cares. it’s lazy tattoed thugs running around bouncing a ball. with that ball, they would be in that beating video. it should also not surprise anyone that teams in this city often go through choke or suck periods. cause they all suck