After an egregious loss, we ask: Have the Hawks hit a wall?

Twelve days ago Mike Woodson said of his Hawks: “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].”

File that under “message not received.”

The night of Woodson’s call for commitment, his team lost by 18 points at home to the sub-.500 Miami Heat. The Hawks have since lost two of three on their Western swing, which can happen. But it shouldn’t happen when the second of those comes against a lousy Golden State team missing Corey Maggette on a night when the Hawks hold an 18-point lead. And now we have to ask: Has this club hit the wall?

After Jamal Crawford beat Phoenix at the buzzer on Jan. 15, the Hawks were 26-13. They’re 8-7 since. They’ve dropped from first place in the NBA Southeast to fourth in the Eastern Conference, which is where they don’t want to be.

Woodson’s point about needing to win the division is self-evident: If you finish ahead of Orlando, you’ll probably be second in the East, which would keep you clear of Cleveland until the Eastern Conference finals and give you the homecourt edge for two rounds, not just one. Instead the Hawks have fallen 2 1/2 games behind the Magic.

Yes, it’s a long season and every team hits lulls — Cleveland is 0-3 since the break — but the Hawks are the youngest of the East’s Big Four, and if any team figured to be fresh after the All-Star Game it was this. But the Hawks were chased down by the Warriors, who are 16-39 and who had eight healthy players. (Then again, Woodson played only nine men himself. No minutes for Mo Evans or Joe Smith.)

Joe Johnson got blindsided by Monta Ellis for a steal and tying hoop with a minute left. Golden State took a lasting lead on a free throw resulting from Jamal Crawford’s technical foul. (T’ed up with 34 seconds left in a tie game? Are you kidding me?) The Hawks mustered 14 fourth-quarter points against the team that ranks last in the NBA in defense.

It was exactly the sort of loss a team positioning itself for the playoffs cannot have. Even if the Hawks win tonight in Salt Lake City, Sunday’s game in Oakland cannot be retrieved. The schedule is about to get softer, but the questions now aren’t about the opponent. They’re about the Hawks. Are they as good as they seemed in January? Or have they gone as far as they can go?

210 comments Add your comment

mmgtfan

February 22nd, 2010
12:34 pm

Fed Up With Wren (Again)

February 22nd, 2010
12:39 pm

Woody is running his top guys way too many minutes. Seems I remember him owning up to that last week and then saying it wouldn’t happen again. How does Joe Smith not get in the game again then?

J.J.M.

February 22nd, 2010
12:39 pm

hawks depended to much on joe in the 4th…coach has to realize its a team game. Try moving the ball around and get better shot selections.

MenvsBoys

February 22nd, 2010
12:39 pm

How many games in the last few weeks have the Hawks folded the tent in the 4th quarter? 12 points, 14 points, etc… Sadly, the Hawks appear to be on the inevtable slide to mediocrity. There just isn’t enough discipline on this team to maintain a consistent level of play.

Sideways the dog

February 22nd, 2010
12:41 pm

Perfect time to get rid of Mike Woodson, and hire Pat Riley, he’s good at taking over teams mid-season

J.J.M.

February 22nd, 2010
12:45 pm

This might be a mental thing for the hawks

BCC0224

February 22nd, 2010
12:47 pm

The loss against Golden State sickens me, worse than the 24 second shot clock debacle in Clevelnad. They had a 18-point lead and then hit cruise control while the Warriors, to their credit, came back with intensity. Yet Golden State is not Orlando or Cleveland or Boston, teams that can make a comeback with their personnel – that’s what makes this loss hurt even more. Golden State shouldn’t be in the Hawks’ league. Instead of using what got them the big lead in the 3rd quarter, passing the ball to the open man, stiff defense, Atlanta went one-on-one and then tried to hit a jumper as the time clock expired.

Atlanta’s good enough to beat Orlando. Good enough to beat Cleveland. They’ve shown they’re good enough to beat Boston by sweeping them in four games. They have the talent, and have a good head coach – I support Mike Woodson, especially after the Lon Kruger & Terry Stotts eras. They just can’t let up on a team when they got a big lead; you can stop playing when the clock reads 0:00 in the fourth quarter.

Justin

February 22nd, 2010
12:52 pm

Ceiling has been reached. Just not gonna finish ahead of Orlando in the division. This is a good but not great team. A second round exit is not bad, but it seems to be the best case scenario at this point.

cdog

February 22nd, 2010
12:52 pm

they have hit a brick wall and have power driven through the ground thanks to rick sund.why is josh smith taking three pointers in crucial moments?.i hope woodson hasn’t lost his mind.sund has put the nail in the hawks coffin by not getting a big man so as far as the rest of the season, its lost but does sund care? no he doesn’t. so why should we fans?he’s satisfied with putting a fourth rated product on the floor

Hawkfan

February 22nd, 2010
12:57 pm

Well you got Josh Smith, who had an awesome game for 3 quarters, tried to be the man in the fourth, which appears to be what most Hawks fans want. But he couldn’t convert numerous times they went down to him on the block. Then he tried to be the hero (with plenty of time on the clock to pass), takes a 3 to tie the game, BRICK. You don’t want Joe touching the ball to decide the game, well he didn’t. Hawks lose. In fact, Joe has a decidely height advantage over his man and Horf was playing solid as well, but the Hawks went away from both of them throughout the 4th and let GS back in the game.

Mark Bradley

February 22nd, 2010
12:59 pm

Mmgtfan on a dominating run of firsts. Kudos yet again.

Ted M

February 22nd, 2010
1:00 pm

Marvin Williams has virtually completely disappeared this season after all the preseason bluster about stepping up his game. I wonder if we could’ve gotten anything for him in a trade.

Mark Bradley

February 22nd, 2010
1:05 pm

MenvsBoys makes a good point. The Hawks had 12 points in the fourth quarter against the Heat 12 days ago. They had 14 against Phoenix on Friday. Now 14 more against Golden State. Something’s wrong.

Mark Bradley

February 22nd, 2010
1:06 pm

Marvin might have brought something as a sign-and-trade last summer, Ted M, but not now. His value has never been so low.

Khao$

February 22nd, 2010
1:06 pm

Mark, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but as of late, we’ve had tons of problems scoring in the 4th quarter. Against the Suns. Against Golden State. Against the Thunder. Against Miami Even going back further: the Cavs game in ATL, Orlando, etc.

Woody is quick to say we didn’t defend. We’ll we defended against Phx and we lost. If we hit just a few shots last night, we win. Bottomline is, this “I don’t care about the offense thing” is killing us. Our offensive efficiency is fool’s gold. On a good night we get a ton of offensive rebounds which lead to second chance points. But what about those nights when we don’t get those 2nd chance points? Our offense has to have plays installed that can exploit the other teams weaknesses on D and play to our strengths. Everything Woody preaches is predicated on defense. I have no problem with his attention to defense. However, we have to score the ball! These cold 4th quarters with 38% shooting or below is ridiculous. He’s the ultimate problem with this team. Yes, we’ve improved every year with him. However, is that a product of his coaching or the natural maturation process of an NBA player? I’d argue the latter. He’s a decent coach, but not a good one. I believe a better coach could get more out of this team. Too bad JJ will be gone before we find out.

Stotts Era

February 22nd, 2010
1:08 pm

it was in oakland, not san francisco

concerned

February 22nd, 2010
1:09 pm

Is anyone else besides me concerned at how often JJ turns the ball over. I cringe whenever he puts the ball on the floor especially late in the game. Case and point last nite against Golden State he lost his dribble 3 times inside of 4min. Im just saying happens alot.

McCann Fan

February 22nd, 2010
1:09 pm

I’m just glad I went to sleep after the 3rd quarter. What the hell happened?

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

February 22nd, 2010
1:10 pm

I am afraid they are done they will make the playoffs as a 4 seed maybe get by miami maybe not but second round is as far as this team can go and its hard to figure with the talent they have . will woodsons job be safe I don’t think so .

concerned

February 22nd, 2010
1:12 pm

Mark do you think the hawks will make it out of the east without a presence down low.

welikebaseball2

February 22nd, 2010
1:12 pm

Ugh. I’m so over Mike Woodson. This gets so old. I will give him credit for giving Teague a little burn last night…athough, as usual, it was only when the Hawks were “comfortably” ahead. Of course when the starters began to gift wrap the lead for the Warriors, Woodson sticks with 4 starters plus Crawford. Go figure. How does Joe Smith play well for one half & doesn’t see the floor for the next three halves? I’m just saying, for the second game on the trip, the starters fizzle in the 4th & Woodson sticks with them plus Crawford. Ridiculous. If the bench, FULLY UTILIZED, had proven unproductive then I’d say the it’s mostly on the players. Unfortunately, we’ll never know if Joe Smith or Moe Evans (or even Teague or ZaZa in the 4th quarter) would have made a difference. Ugh…

Yes Mark, the Hawks have indeed hit a will. It’s name is Mike Woodson.

NC Braves Fan

February 22nd, 2010
1:14 pm

Last night’s game is the latest example of the Hawks losing a game against a team they should beat. Their fatal flaw appears to be the lack of a killer instinct.

And Woody not playing the bench more is really confusing. I thought depth was one of our strong suits this year, and it would relieve the pressure off the starters.

I’d like to think things might change for the better, but with the same pattern, same results and same excuses lately, it’s getting really hard to believe we’ll get past round two (at best).

Section 303

February 22nd, 2010
1:15 pm

Mark, I think there was reason to panic a little after that Miami game. That night, the team looked indifferent to the beating they were getting and acted like they could just turn things on after the break. Well, they can’t.

The team is just immature. They think they know how to win, they really don’t. Horford said last night that they thought they could just let GS make a run and still win anyways…I don’t understand that mindset. If that is really what the Hawks think, that they can just let teams make a run and win, then they are no where near as far as I thought they were.

I am taking this loss harder than any other February loss I can remember. I think the reason is because it was a loss that showed the Hawks true colors. They’re good, they’re just really not that good.

welikebaseball2

February 22nd, 2010
1:15 pm

Ugh. I’m so over Mike Woodson. This gets so old. I will give him credit for giving Teague a little burn last night…athough, as usual, it was only when the Hawks were “comfortably” ahead. Of course when the starters began to gift wrap the lead for the Warriors, Woodson sticks with 4 starters plus Crawford. Go figure. How does Joe Smith play well for one half & doesn’t see the floor for the next three halves? I’m just saying, for the second game on the trip, the starters fizzle in the 4th & Woodson sticks with them plus Crawford. Ridiculous. If the bench, FULLY UTILIZED, had proven unproductive then I’d say the it’s mostly on the players. Unfortunately, we’ll never know if Joe Smith or Moe Evans (or even Teague or ZaZa in the 4th quarter) would have made a difference. Ugh…

Yes, the Hawks have indeed hit a will. It’s name is Mike Woodson.

Millard

February 22nd, 2010
1:15 pm

Hawks showed the other night that they are a very average team – no better than last year – without Jamal Crawford. Jamal cooled off in the 4th quarter last night, and they could not mount an offensive charge.

Mark Bradley

February 22nd, 2010
1:16 pm

The Hawks have a presence down low, concerned. His name is Al Horford.

concerned

February 22nd, 2010
1:17 pm

Hawkfan i understand your point about Josh taking the final shot but where the hell was joe and the rest of the team while an 18 point lead went away. the hawks should have never been behind by 3 at the end of this game. I don’t care who the last shot they deserved to lose with the way they played.

Bullwinkle

February 22nd, 2010
1:17 pm

Pure and simple. It’s the coach. No way a good coach lets an 18-point lead disappear against a bad team. And no way a good coach has Josh Smith on the floor with less than ten seconds left and in need of a 3. You KNEW when he got the ball he was going to take the shot. This team does not respect the coach. Period.

T.O

February 22nd, 2010
1:17 pm

No leadership on the court and poor coaching will have this team out by the 2nd round.

NoleRick

February 22nd, 2010
1:18 pm

4th quarter, no adjustments. Blame Woody

Mark Bradley

February 22nd, 2010
1:19 pm

Thanks, Stotts Era. I always get mixed up in California.

NC Braves Fan

February 22nd, 2010
1:21 pm

For the third time this season, I’ll say it: I think Woodson has taken this team as far as it’s going to go.

concerned

February 22nd, 2010
1:21 pm

Mark I take nothing from Al but wouldn’t you agree he is playing out of position. He has done a great job kudos, but the hawks have serious match up problems with orlando. Is that to say you think this current roster can make it past the second round.

Jesse

February 22nd, 2010
1:21 pm

I actually think the Hawks would rather play the Cavs or the Celtics in the second round – we don’t match up well against Orlando.

NC Braves Fan

February 22nd, 2010
1:22 pm

Let me re-state that: Woodson has taken this team as far as HE can.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

February 22nd, 2010
1:23 pm

who are some coaches that could take over for woodson ? are any of the good ones going to be interested in coming to Atl if woody is shown the door ?

rusty

February 22nd, 2010
1:24 pm

woody is wcoy. he needs to go & let him take iso joe with him

JT

February 22nd, 2010
1:25 pm

I am always hesitant to start questioning coaches, etc. but I think it is very fair in the case with Woody. While we have seen improvement season over season in terms of wins – it would have been very diffcult not to see our win totals increase with simply drafting the pices we did and signing JJ. He does deserve credit for our rise but not sure how much.

It is beginning to appear this staff struggles a bit with “teaching” the game to younger players – mainly those who did not have much college experience.

The other two major concerns is the lack of offensive imagination and the constant over use of starters. We have a bench for a reason – if they are no good then we should have made a move at the deadline to help address that. We have been told all year that we are the deepest we have been in a long time.

I think the combination of not being very good at trully teaching younger players, lack of offensive imagination and over use of starters and/or non use of role players have continued to show why we are where we are and probably says a lot to the lack of discipline we seem to have in crucial spots. Maybe it’s becasue the team doesn’t respect it’s leader?

Thoughts?

Not Don Waddell

February 22nd, 2010
1:26 pm

The team has hit a wall with the Browless imbecile running the show. This program will never be “elite” as long as Woody is running the show.

Not Don Waddell

February 22nd, 2010
1:26 pm

The team has hit a wall with the Browless imbecile running the show. This program will never be “elite” as long as Woody is running the show.

KEEPING IT REAL

February 22nd, 2010
1:26 pm

We have to many streak players. Nobody plays 100% everynight, Bibby can’t play any defense and doesn’t drive to the paint. Marvin is the player on the team that can either make or break the hawks. He needs to be ready to play everynight on defense and offense. I was glad to see JJ get upset at the refs lastnight he needs to do more of that.

Mark Bradley

February 22nd, 2010
1:26 pm

Al is not playing out of position. He would be a decent power forward. He’s an above-average center.

PMC

February 22nd, 2010
1:29 pm

More like a ceiling than a wall really.

Ted M

February 22nd, 2010
1:30 pm

I think the Hawks should now experiment with starting Crawford. Toronto is hot… they need to do something or we could go out in the first round. Thoughts?

Not Don Waddell

February 22nd, 2010
1:30 pm

Al is an “above-average” center as long as the opposing center is 6′10″ or less. Anyone above that height dwarfs Al, and he gets absolutely dominated.

J.J.M.

February 22nd, 2010
1:33 pm

and lets not forget the bone headed tech crawford got us

Mark Bradley

February 22nd, 2010
1:36 pm

Did Chris Kaman “dominate” Al Horford last week? (Horford: 31 points.)

J.J.M.

February 22nd, 2010
1:38 pm

BTW: facebook trending topic was “what joe johnson got a tech?”

Melvin Flowers

February 22nd, 2010
1:38 pm

The Hawks Needs A New Leader, Woodson done a great job working with the Hawks doing their re-building stage. Its seem at time the Hawks do what they want on the court, and get lost on the court
someing elite teams try not to do. you cant loose ball games like what happen with the Warriors.
The Hawks Needs Avery Johnson (Former Dallas Coach).
Its Time For A Coaching Change.

concerned

February 22nd, 2010
1:40 pm

Mark I like so many others I’ve listen to feel Al is better suited for the power forward position. I do agree He is an above avg center.However to make out of the east He has to match up with shaq, and dwight. So do you feel we can make out of the east with those match ups. That is not to say thats the only problem. whenever the jump fails we are not able to go low for some high percentage shots.