The Hawks pick a lousy time to unleash a rotten effort

When Udonis Haslem lights you up, you're not trying very hard. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

When Udonis Haslem lights you up for 17 points, you're not trying very hard. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Before the game, Mike Woodson spoke of the need for an increased level of commitment if his Hawks are to win the Southeast Division. Afterward, Josh Smith said this:

“It’s kind of frustrating when you don’t even give yourselves a chance. We didn’t really come to play today.”

The Hawks are a good team that comes to play most every game. This was an exception, an egregious one. They lost by 18 points to the sub-.500 Miami Heat on a night when Dwyane Wade scored eight points under his average. They lost scoring 27 points in the first quarter and 49 thereafter. They assured themselves of being in second place in their division at the All-Star break, which is not where they want or need to be.

Woodson pregame: “We’re right where we want to be. We’ve closed the gap on the top three teams, and now we’ve got to make a serious push and be committed. After the All-Star break, we have to really concentrate on trying to win our division … Somehow we’ve got to try to get the second spot [in the East].”

Woodson postgame: “We had a just awful fourth quarter [12 points] … We had a good meeting right here [after the game]. We talked about how we’ve got to be committed these last 31 games.”

No, Jamal Crawford didn’t play — he woke up with a sore shoulder — and neither did Zaza Pachulia. But the Hawks lost by 18 points on their floor to an indifferent opponent. There’s no excuse for that no matter how many subs you’re missing. There’s no excuse for letting Miami reserve Daequan Cook score as many points in 65 seconds as your entire bench did in the game.

Even good teams have lousy nights, but this was a particularly lousy time to unleash this. The Hawks had won a tough game over a good young opponent in Memphis on Tuesday, and they had a chance to head into the break on a four-game run. Instead they authored one of those bewildering efforts of pre-breakthrough days.

The Heat threw up a little zone defense and the Hawks could manage only 27 baskets in 48 minutes. Joe Johnson needed 21 shots to score 16 points. Marvin Williams needed 11 shots to score 11 points. The game was tied with 8 1/2 minutes left, whereupon the Hawks managed but five points — five! — the rest of the way.

Said Al Horford: “We just gave it away. But this could be good for us in the long run — it could get us refocused.”

The first 50 games of the 2009-2010 season were better than we could have dreamed. The 51st was worse than we could have imagined. It would be wrong to let one rotten effort overshadow the good work of the past four months, but there cannot be any more losses like this if the Hawks are to take the Southeast and claim the No. 2 seed in the East. The stakes are higher, and the margin for error thinner.

This team has a chance to play for the Eastern Conference title, but the next 31 games will shape the postseason. (Will they have the homecourt edge in two rounds, or just one? Will they get Cleveland in Round 2, or someone else?) Even as we salute these Hawks for having come so far, we cannot help but look on this one game and say: That was a performance culled from a past we hoped had been buried.

63 comments Add your comment

Paul in RDU

February 10th, 2010
10:30 pm

Could I be 1st?

CT

February 10th, 2010
10:30 pm

This loss just showed how important Crawford is to our success.

Paul in RDU

February 10th, 2010
10:30 pm

Couldn’t resist – I won’t do that again!

Mark Bradley

February 10th, 2010
10:31 pm

You could, Paul in RDU. Kudos.

Mark Bradley

February 10th, 2010
10:32 pm

Crawford is vastly important, CT. But when it’s tied in the fourth quarter and you’re at home, your starters should be able to carry you.

Section 303

February 10th, 2010
10:33 pm

Mark, the Hawks deserve to be ripped up and down after tonight. Like you said, it looked like one of those dog efforts we used to see back in ‘06 or ‘07.

Also, I am sick of hearing about how Crawford did not play. I listened to Sam Raden on 790 thezone whine about that the entire drive home. The Hawks have beaten teams with key injuries this year (Hornets without Paul, Celtics without Garnett), does not mean the games don’t count. Grow up. No excuse is a good enough excuse for tonight’s weak, weak, weak effort. Nice way to put a good taste in everyone’s mouth before the break.

Plus, you know they will go out west and crap the bed. But, I’m sure there will be plenty of excuses going around…always is for this team.

Really, they should refund my money and the money of anyone else who was there tonight. Just a complete debacle.

Mark Bradley

February 10th, 2010
10:34 pm

You play with who you have on a given night, Section 303. Last I checked, the Hawks weren’t missing a single starter.

Paul in RDU

February 10th, 2010
10:35 pm

Thanks Mark – Now I can go back to the Duke-UNC game. Thank God we have Raycom up here in the Triangle and I don’t have to listen to Dookie V

Section 303

February 10th, 2010
10:39 pm

That was my point exactly, Mark. You got that, right?

Dayman

February 10th, 2010
10:40 pm

Wes

February 10th, 2010
10:49 pm

Mo Evans and a draft pick for Tayshaun Prince (and cash, whatever it takes). The team needs more energy off the bench, and Tayshaun is a proven scorer and great defender.

cdog

February 10th, 2010
11:02 pm

now rick sund, after that stupid, dumb so- called performance, do you still think the hawks need to stand pat and not trade for anybody? even though crawford was out, an NBA team does not stink up their own home court the way the hawks did tonight. you apparently are satisfied so you want to finish in 4th place, get put out and then you will blame mike woodson when the problem is you.

llf

February 10th, 2010
11:09 pm

Here’s a big news flash for the AJC. The University of Georgia has fielded a men’s basketball team, and the are playing games! You might consider having someone cover the team — at least on game days.

Mark Bradley

February 10th, 2010
11:33 pm

I got it, Section 303. I was merely seconding the emotion.

Eric

February 11th, 2010
12:07 am

It’s all mental, the Hawks still don’t think they can win when they play back to back games. This is another step to becoming an elite team instead of an average one.

Mark Bradley

February 11th, 2010
12:12 am

That’s a salient point, Eric. The really good teams don’t make excuses on back-to-backs. They just show up and play.

LY Munz

February 11th, 2010
12:16 am

Mark,

Any chance we can rid ourselves of Marvin at the deadline. If this team had even a halfway decent sf imagine where they would be. I am completely fine letting Crawford start and having Mo Evans coming off the bench. If we can turn Marvin into a Haywood type to guard Howard, Shaq, etc. I think it would be huge for this teams chances.

As presently composed, I think we are overvaluing them a little to feel they will have a chance at the East finals without 2nd round homecourt. Marvin Williams provides absolutely nothing to this team and I can’t stand the fact that the ATL media doesn’t call him out more.

For a #2 picks he has to be giving more then he has been. He may be a nice guy but he is completely clumsy and can do no more then hit a wide open shot, although even that has become rarer these days.

I hated signing him to an extension when we did it and hated it even more now. It reinforced for me just how little creativity most NBA gms lack. Rather then take a chance on somebody else, Sund took the easy route and gave the bust Marvin a 5 year deal. While he deserves a ton of credit for Crawford, that Marvin money could have been spent much more wisely and will haunt us for years. He is in his 5th year in the league and if he hasn’t figured it out by now I’m sorry to tell you it just will not be happening. He is destined to be a 9 pt 5 reb type of guy who’s role should be a spot sub for a good sf. Absolutely pathetic choice by Knight but still not as horriffic as Shelden Williams. Sorry for the rant but had to get it out.

Mark Bradley

February 11th, 2010
12:29 am

I don’t think Marvin’s trade value has ever been lower.

tyler

February 11th, 2010
12:57 am

I can’t remember ever seeing a team this talented lose so many games it shouldn’t. We have proven that we can beat the good teams (minus orlando and cleve) but it’s these winnable games against mediocre teams that we can’t seem to find any consistency. Jamal being out does hurt but come on, like you said- we had all of our starters. Although- I will say that Crawford is a 6th man only in name alone. He should start- but that’s another topic and quite frankly not that big of a deal. Anyway- we should be sitting on 36, 37 wins right now.

lady j 80

February 11th, 2010
1:54 am

The Hawks are a good team but not a great team. They have had their opportunities this first half to have a healthy lead over Orlando and should be running away with second place in the East because the Celtics are nothing close to the team they were when they won the championship. However, the Hawks are sitting in 4th place because they are not winning the games they should dominate and they are very inconsistent. The Hawks certainly need to make some trades to improve the sf position, point guard, and bench. Without Jamal Crawford, the Hawks have NO bench. The Hawks have the potential to be an elite team. However, success is not built on potential alone. It takes hard work, consistency,committement, and focus. Once they add that along with a few missing pieces in terms of players then i will BOLDLY say that i smell a championship title here in the ATL.

BirdDawg

February 11th, 2010
3:27 am

“The Hawks are a good team that comes to play most every game. ” Are you serious? This statement is laughable at best. The Hawks are a good team that comes to play for stretches of most games and none of others. I’ve watched a lot of their games and I’ve yet to see a complete effort out of this team for 48 minutes. Give them credit for winning 33 out of the first 51 games, a great accomplishment, but still far below what they’re capable of if they apply themselves and actually correct their deficiencies instead of just talk about them. This team has been outplayed less than ten times this season, Orlando and Los Angeles being the most glaring examples. All other losses have been due to a lack of effort for most or all of the game and that is simply unacceptable. Cleveland loses two of their top three players and they don’t miss a beat. Why? Because they all play hard every minute of every game no matter the situation. Because their All-Star instills a sense of urgency in his team every night with his play and effort. The Hawks have yet to display that and until they do, they will never reach their full potential and they certainly won’t sniff an NBA Title. The Hawks are arguably the second most talented team in the league next to the Lakers, but their effort places them below teams with much less talent at their disposal.

Dr. Warren

February 11th, 2010
4:02 am

Injuries weren’t why the Hawks lost last night. But we should note: the Hawks have stayed miraculously injury-free this year. Boston has a better record with major injuries. Ditto for Orlando. What happens in the last 30 games if someone goes down?

DeepDiver

February 11th, 2010
4:44 am

So Crawford didn’t play. This is still basically the same team (minus Flip Murray and Zaza) that blew out the Heat three times at home in last year’s playoffs. The Heat played the night before as well so that excuse doesn’t hold water. You would have wanted the Hawks to show some fire in this one given the drubbing they took in Miami earlier this year.

Still, nice first half. Put this stinker behind us and move forward, but we definitely owe them now.

joe

February 11th, 2010
7:46 am

the hawks are soft defensively and and predictable offensively. too often someone has their best game of the season against the hawks(both in points and rebounds). bibby is the worst defensive guard in the nba and can not even hit an open jump shot . JJ is a good player who thinks he is a great player. Marvin is invisable( 2ent overall pick,ouch) Josh gives effort, but still has no jump shot, and Al gets run over by anything resembling an nba center. all this together and the hawks should be thankful they are 15 games over .500

Rock Preston

February 11th, 2010
8:08 am

LY Munz and Joe are spot on. I 2nd that emotion!!

Martin Calloway

February 11th, 2010
8:19 am

Would love to see one of the Hawks’ owners explain to an Atlanta fan why they should pay money to watch that effort(?) last night. Even Woodson looked indifferent. Maybe they’re underpaid in this economy. Why not run West out there more to illustrate what’s needed?

Jay

February 11th, 2010
8:33 am

This team just needs a more consistent shooter at the SF. I still plead for Coron Butler, but Mark do you think maybe Tracy McGrady could come and play the 3??

WonderDawg

February 11th, 2010
8:35 am

I’ve watched every quarter of the Hawks games the past 2 years. They are so much better now than last year, mainly because of Crawford and Josh’s improvements. However, this cast will not win the east without a true big man. Horford cannot guard big post-up players. O’neal, Howard, and even last night’s O’neal give him fits. They win occasionally, but will not win a series against a team with a big center. The Hawks should try to trade him and a couple of draft picks for Kevin Love. That would give them improved defense in the middle, another shot blocker, as well as another 3-point shooter. Just my opinion.

WonderDawg

February 11th, 2010
8:45 am

Trade Al Horford and a couple of picks for Kevin Love. True big man. Better defense, shot blocking and even 3 point-range shooter. Hawks will not win a playoff series against teams with a good big man until they get one themselves.

jg

February 11th, 2010
8:56 am

Man that fourth quarter was tough to watch! How do the Hawks do this so much? I’m so tired of watching “this” game! I’ve seen it way too much! I mean they have five days off in a row. You’d think they’d be busting it every second–but it looked as if they were stuck in mud without Crawford.

After the Memphis game I actually thought we might NOT need to make a move. That we just might have enough to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. But after the debacle that was Miami last night, New York, OKC or just insert whatever team–we need something! I don’t know who but we need a little something something to help this team make that next step. Is it McGrady, Mike Miller or even a Udonis Haslem? Could be–but we can’t afford to sleep on someone–You only have so many chances to do something special–our time is now–don’t blow it Hawks.

Jay

February 11th, 2010
8:56 am

Trade who for what??????

The Grinch

February 11th, 2010
9:00 am

Horford gets run over by anything resembling a center because he’s a PF. I feel embarrassed for Sund every time he gets on the radio and claims Horf is a legitimate NBA center. He’s a good player who’s going to get better, but woefully out of position. That’s why we get bulldozed by Cleveland and Orlando.

I get that much angrier at Marvin when about once every four or five games he spends a quarter or so actually driving to the basket and being effective. The crowd and announcers get all excited, then he slips off and takes an extended nap. If he was confused, it would be one thing. If he just had no talent like Sheldon it would be another. But those rare yet seemingly effortless bursts prove he’s just a lazy, unmotivated d-bag.

And I don’t care how many times Crawford gets called a bench guy or a 6th man; he and Josh Smith are the co-MVP’s of this team. When either one is out we get destroyed.

Ozzy

February 11th, 2010
10:05 am

Wow – there are people that pay attention to NBA basketball?

Who knew?

Hey Mark – how do you like Tech Bball now?

Barrington

February 11th, 2010
10:08 am

How many times are we going to here “we just didn’t have it tonight” from the players and/or Coach Woodson? Coah Woodson has done a poor job getting his team motivated to play some nights. This is the sole reason why he wasn’t given a contract extension. If the Hawks lose in the playoffs, it better not be in the first round. If we lose in the 2nd round, we at least should take whoever we play to 7 games. That’s the only way I see Woodson keeping his job. Gutless performance, hands down.

Barry

February 11th, 2010
10:21 am

Top 6 things Sund needs to do to improve the team:

1. Fire Woodson- not a motivator & no clue offensively
2. Add a true center
3. Get rid of Marvin Williams
4. Play Teague more valuable minutes
5. Start Mo Evans instead of Marvin Williams
6.

Barry

February 11th, 2010
10:22 am

Oh, and 6 should be Fire Mike Woodson, again!

Barry

February 11th, 2010
10:28 am

Anyone who feels we should trade Horford is an idiot. He’s playing out of position which isn’t his fault. Josh Smith should have been a sign and trade and we should have kept Flip Murray and not signed Marvin. Al and Crawford are my MVP’s for this team. Joe Johnson is soft and not a leader. Josh Smith has no fluidity in his game and he still takes those 15-20 foot jumpers. Mike Bibby is no longer a shooting threat and Marvin Williams is just SAD (sorry and dumb). I say the Hawks should be greatful for the position they’re in. The Hawks have improved in spite of Woodson, not because of Woodson.

Bill

February 11th, 2010
10:38 am

What would happen to ZaZa’s game if he spent some time in the weight room and added 20 pounds?

Mark Bradley

February 11th, 2010
10:59 am

Let’s not go wild over one bad game. It was a really bad game — but it was still just one game.

Mark Bradley

February 11th, 2010
11:00 am

Oh, and Martin, I don’t see any way the Hawks would make a move for McGrady. Nor should they. Can’t stay healthy.

bigeasy830

February 11th, 2010
11:20 am

last night proved that jamaal Crawford is our best and most valuble player. He needs to be a starter. Bibby services are no longer neeed and the inconsistent and soft approach to the game is no longer needed by Marvin Williams, Trade Bibby and Marvin and try to pick up a good center. Also start jamaal at the point and try to develop the rookie point he looked as if he have taken a step back in his development. He looked confused.

That guy

February 11th, 2010
11:58 am

I like Crawford off the bench because he brings the energy. Very few teams have that luxury. IMO Bibby would be completely useless off the bench. He isn’t an energy player, he’s a stabilizer. Mo Evans has been quite dissapointing this season, and don’t get me started on Williams.
If it’s possable, a trade for Prince would be awesome for this team. As is I don’t see us any higher than third, but we are only one impact player away from competing for that second spot.

Just to add on to the UGA basketball comment, Kennesaw State also has a division I basketball program that is on the rise. I know plenty of you are going to laugh at this, but the Owls are out of their transitionary period, and redshirt freshman Markeith Cummings is the, or close to, the leading freshman scorer in the NCAA. He was ahead of UK’s Wall for that spot last week. The team has won 7 of their last 9, and with a good run in the A-Sun tourney, the Owls would qualify for the NCAA tourney. Probably not likely, but take note AJC there is more than just GT basketball in the area.

Section 303

February 11th, 2010
12:05 pm

Guys, can we stop with the potential trades? Here’s a tip…none of them are going to happen. So, just stop it.

Blue

February 11th, 2010
12:10 pm

Barry ….. You hit the nail on the head brother.

Joe Johnson probably will not resign with the Hawks after this season. And that’s a good thing!

mrs.mitchell

February 11th, 2010
12:40 pm

how could that happen

jg

February 11th, 2010
12:41 pm

i liked the pickup of joe smith but has he scored more than two points since he injured his thumb? he’s always been a solid 15 to 17 foot jump shooter–but he’s lost that shot. poor bibby can’t make anything clean–where’s his stroke? we need these things following the break or we’ll be fighting to stay in our fourth slot.

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Section 303

February 11th, 2010
2:01 pm

@Blue: I love how you just declare that Joe Johnson will not resign with the Hawks. Like you have any idea what he will do! And, here’s the thing, if he does not resign that is not a good thing.

nique

February 11th, 2010
2:42 pm

we need a coach that can draw up a play that his players can execute when they need a bucket. is that so much to ask?!

BirdDawg

February 11th, 2010
5:31 pm

I think most of the problems with this team can be attributed to Woodson. He is not a true head coach. He doesn’t have control of his team as evidenced by their continuous lack of effort. He has no clue offensively as evidenced by the lack of plays run (other than Iso-Joe or Iso-Jamaal) in crunch time. He mismanages young talent as evidenced by the numerous rookies whose careers he’s derailed since he’s been here, Jeff Teague being the latest. Woodson should have followed Billy Knight out the door. This team has far too much talent to waste on the coaching ineptitude of Mike Woodson. Time to stop making excuses for losing winnable games. Time to stop making excuses for not being the second or top seed in the East. The window of opportunity to win a professional sports championship doesn’t stay open long and if the Hawks don’t act to correct their shortcomings immediately, that window is going to close before it’s even fully opened.