‘It was like a bad dream’: Actually, Game 5 was even worse

The clock is close to striking 0.0 on the Atlanta Hawks. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

The clock is close to striking 0.0 on the Atlanta Hawks. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

With 2:44 left in the biggest game the Atlanta Hawks have played in the 21st Century, Brandon Jennings missed a free throw that would have cut the lead to two. And you thought, “Big break for the Hawks.”

Then you knew better. You saw Ersan Ilyasova, who has never been confused with Kevin McHale, running down the rebound because Josh Smith, who should have been an All-Star, didn’t block out. And then Marvin Williams fouled John Salmons, and the one-point possession tripled in value, and the Hawks’ lead was down to one.

And then Joe Johnson, on whom everything seems to ride, charged into Kurt Thomas and fouled out. And then Ilyasova scored underneath over Smith. And then the Bucks were ahead. And then Smith missed a three-pointer and Al Horford missed a follow and Jennings missed a runner at the other end but Ilyasova snagged another offensive rebound and fed Carlos Delfino, who fumbled the catch but still hit the clinching trey over Mike Bibby.

And you wondered: How does any of that — let alone all of it — happen? How does Ersan Ilyasova will himself to dominate the final four minutes of an NBA playoff game?

“Just a lack of concentration,” Jamal Crawford said afterward.

But how do you not concentrate with a season on the line?

Said Crawford: “I honestly don’t know.”

I don’t, either. And neither does Mike Woodson or Rick Sund or James Naismith. It’s the great imponderable of a series that beggars belief. The Milwaukee Bucks are playing without their MVP; the Hawks won seven more games in the regular season and have all hands on deck, and they’re 48 minutes from elimination and perhaps a coaching search.

I keep wanting to believe the Hawks can still win this series, but I no longer have any basis for it. Game 5 was the worst moment in Hawks history since the loss — also to an undermanned Milwaukee team, also in Game 5 — at the old Omni in 1989. I was on hand for both, and the one of 21 years ago was the beginning of the end for Mike Fratello. For Mike Woodson, this Game 5 could be the end, period.

Nobody can seriously dispute this much: Scott Skiles has taken lesser players and leads Woodson’s team 3-2. (And that’s with spotting the Hawks the first two games.) Woodson has improved the Hawks’ record each of the past five regular seasons, but in a series the Hawks were expected to win easily he hasn’t gotten his men to do what they should. And if the players have stopped responding to a coach, what do you do? Fire 12 men or ditch the one?

Down nine on the road with four minutes remaining, Skiles’ team kept playing. Up nine at home with four minutes remaining, Woodson’s team was outscored 14-0. Fourteen-zip. Those four minutes were everything you’ve feared might happen to these Hawks but kept hoping would not. Said Crawford: “It was like a bad dream.”

It was worse than that. It was stupefying. (How do you not win on a night when Horford and Williams give career-best postseason performances?) It was the kind of loss that can, more than simply scuttling a season, scar a franchise. It was the loss that could not happen. But it did.

273 comments Add your comment

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

April 29th, 2010
7:20 am

Pathetic- just like every other franchise in this city..always getting our hopes up, then crushing them!! It’s Offical- The Sports Gods hate ATLANTA!!!!

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

April 29th, 2010
7:20 am

sorry, Official

Michael Scharff

April 29th, 2010
7:22 am

NBA basketball can be really ugly, and this was one of the ugliest games I’ve seen. The Hawks were pitiful! And, First?

Michael Scharff

April 29th, 2010
7:23 am

O.k., not First. I really have to figure out how that RSS thing works…

82 Dawg

April 29th, 2010
7:32 am

I really think the players are trying to blow this series so Woody will not be brought back. It looked like they were not even trying. You could see in their expressions on TV, at the end of the game Woody had a look on his face that it was over, the look of disbelief . There is no way the Hawks could have won games one and two the way they did to look this bad in the last three if something was not up.

O'Brien

April 29th, 2010
7:33 am

Mr. Bradley,

In your blog yesterday “A new coach for the Hawks? Be careful what you wish for”, you pointed out how Avery Johnson’s Mavs led the NBA finals 2-0, and never won another game.

Nevermind the fact that they were playing Miami led by DWade and a motivated Shaq. Nevermind the fact that Wade got just about every single call on his way to Finals MVP. Nevermind the fact that they were being coached by HOF Pat Riley.

The Hawks were up 2-0 to a Bucks team without its 2 best players and run by a rookie PG. So if the Hawks were to lose this series, do you think Woody should be resigned?

Even if the Hawks win this series, Do you think Woody should be resigned?

I’ll hang up and listen.

mike

April 29th, 2010
7:35 am

I don’t really watch basketball, but I did last night. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, what with the Hawks allowing the Bucks to catch them in the series. I thought, well, I’ll see them rebound and then take the series. Then it didn’t happen.

I’ve also watched every Braves game of the current 8 game losing stretch.
Maybe it’s me; I should quit watching.

Gen Neyland

April 29th, 2010
7:44 am

Between the current state of the Braves and the loud crashing slide of the Hawks, at least we have 4 more episodes of ‘24′ to keep us awake…

MitchC

April 29th, 2010
7:44 am

Mark, I dont think my comment went up on the other blog. Maybe it was taken down, but I’ll say it again.

Playoffs, in any sport, throw all regular season things out the window. Many times, underdog teams come out on top. I’m sure you heard about the NHL last night, where the eighth seeded Montreal team, beat the Number One Seeded Capitals. I don’;t claim to follow hockey, but I do know that all teams start 0-0 in the playoffs.

This series should have been over, and the Hawks should have been on their way to play Orlando. I think maybe the Hawks aren’t taking the Bucks seriously enough. They might have thought “Hmm, we;re the higher seed, the Bucks are injured, no problemo”. They are potentially one game from humility.

I’m still on the fence about Woodson. The team has improved every year under his tenure. I’m not sure what to say, though, if the Hawks were to go down in this series.

DP

April 29th, 2010
7:53 am

I’ve never seen a professional team panic any worse than the Hawks did last night. And talk about a pathetic game plan by Woodson. Al Horford was trying to cover Ridnour in the open floor. The offense was 5 guys standing with iso-Joe followed by iso-Jamal after Johnson fouled out. None of Crawford’s shots late in the game were even close to going in. He was just throwing the ball up toward the basket hoping it would go in. He shot an air ball from 3 feet on a drive to the basket. Josh Smith couldn’t keep a hustling journeyman from getting every rebound and loose ball in the last 2 minutes.

One would think that the team that would have the problem matching up would be the one without any height. In the last 7-8 minutes of the game I recall exactly one time when the Hawks took advantage of a height mismatch (a layup from Marvin Williams). Milwaukee took advantage of their quickness advantage on every offensive possession down the stretch.

An absolute disgrace.

mountain_jim

April 29th, 2010
7:55 am

Is it football season yet? Going to be a long summer for Atlanta Sports fans….

LAC

April 29th, 2010
8:00 am

troy glaus… What a COMPLETE WASTE !!! Did frank wren go to the don waddell school of how to destroy a team ??? I think so and he, like waddell should be RUN OUT OF TOWN !

Top Dawg

April 29th, 2010
8:02 am

I haven’t liked the sorry Hawks since they traded away the nba champioship with Nique for that sorry manning. Once a loser, always a loser.

wintervilledawg

April 29th, 2010
8:04 am

This team has never once overachieved. What’s the point of winning this series when they will get spanked by every other team left in the field. I can’t beleive I’m saying it but Milwaukee deserves this series. Get a new coach and get a key player who won’t choke in crunch time!

dap01

April 29th, 2010
8:05 am

The announcers for both channels were noting how stupid that switching defense has become. It is so predictable. It is silly to have centers and power forwards chasing fast point guards. That would only work on the Hawks because Bibby is the least athletic guard in the NBA.

Woodson is sealing his own fate. That is the only silver lining in this whole collapse.

Justin

April 29th, 2010
8:06 am

I nominate that we rename ourselves the Atlanta Peaches. We can put a big smiley face on the peach for our logo. Or maybe we can play off the WNBA team and be the Atlanta Nightmare. I was thinking that the name of ths article could have been “The Choke by Coke.”

Justin

April 29th, 2010
8:07 am

You do kind of want the Bucks to win this series now. You feel like they’e the only ones who deserve it and will probably bring more spirit into the second round versus Orlando.

Herschel Talker

April 29th, 2010
8:13 am

This doesn’t come close to the Wohlers choke game against the Yankees. That blew a World Series. This blew a first round game in a playoffs that they were going to lose in the second round anyway. Woody is the man.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

April 29th, 2010
8:18 am

you could aslo mention Eugene Robinson & the 98 Falcons- i’m telling you guys, this city is CURSED with it’s sports franchises. can we do a massive voodoo type ritual downtown or something? Maybe sacrifice someone or something??

SimpleDawg

April 29th, 2010
8:20 am

Just a bunch of knuckleheads playing streetball…..

Why the surprise? No coaching, no discipline, no game plan, no offensive identity, no intensity, no defense, etc., etc., etc.

Just a bunch of knuckleheads playing streetball…..

Walker, Texas Ranger

April 29th, 2010
8:21 am

Blow it up, get rid of Johnson, Smith, Bibby and Williams for starters. To think this group of nutless individuals will ever go anywhere is like thinking the Hawks were going to win in the playoffs with Nique. It didn’t happen then and it won’t happen now.

dtanner

April 29th, 2010
8:25 am

mark,you are always trying to draw correlations between teams of the distant past(1989) and now with hawks, braves , falcons etc, there is absolutely nothing to be drawn from this, different players, coaches, owners, like jerry seinfeld once said we are rooting for laundry

JeJe

April 29th, 2010
8:25 am

“and they’re 48 minutes from elimination and perhaps a coaching search.”

WTF? Are you saying if we win this series we will not get a new coach? SCREW THAT. FIRE WOODY

Bob

April 29th, 2010
8:26 am

Two reason we lost game 5. 1) Mike Woodson 2) Josh Smith taking a 3 point shot with 15 seconds on the shot clock and under 2 minutes left in the game. The Bucks out coached the Hawks and played better team basketball. The Hawks got beat by a 19 year old rookie and a 50 year old undersized center. Hopefully Rick Sund has noticed what the Hawks are missing. A coach who can actually coach his players.

coo coo bird fan

April 29th, 2010
8:26 am

Blow em’ up and start over. Wow, how can things get any worse for Atlanta franchises? Its not over till the fat lady sings and Mike Woodson is walking to the podium.

steve brown

April 29th, 2010
8:26 am

The players nicknames, the highlight factory, the fake toughness, are all bush league. Win something before you start strutting around-oh I forgot this isn’t basketball it is entertainment. My kingdom for one back door cut! A sad excuse for how the game is supposed to be played.

hawksfan

April 29th, 2010
8:27 am

Ditto O’Brien

too funny

April 29th, 2010
8:27 am

at least the hawks are in the playoffs, something the braves will never again experience….lmfao

Gordon

April 29th, 2010
8:27 am

This is perfect. Paul Hewitt and his family can stay in Atlanta, the Hawks can have a coach with “great credentials as a human being”, and Tech basketball can become relavent again.

JeJe

April 29th, 2010
8:28 am

NO ONE ON THIS TEAM EVER OVERACHIEVES

MARVIN HAS TO COME HOME AND GET SCOLDED BY THE COACHES TO ACTUALLY SCORE POINTS

FIRE WOODY DAMNIT

BLOW UP THIS CORE. THEY SUCK, OK

jason

April 29th, 2010
8:28 am

There’s a lot of turnover at the end of this season, which in all likelyhood will be an embarassing loss in Milwaukee on Friday. A few things have been exposed thus far: The Hawks aren’t good w/ basketball IQ. Woody cannot adjust at all; it’s his plan or no plan. Marvin is atrocious w/o the ball in his hands; seriously, he just lags up and down the court and is immobile on offense. They have no heart; their clutch shooting and ability to put away a team isn’t there. Bibby has no chance against younger, faster PGs, and is a huge liability on D at this point in his career. There is no team leader. They’ve tried to overcome this all with athleticism, but it’s pooped out against a team that actually knows how to play and wants to win, they don’t expect it. The basketball powers are just affirming this by granting MIL a better shooting touch. They’ll get crushed next round by a team with any kind of reliable jump shot.

Art Vandelay

April 29th, 2010
8:29 am

No heart. No spine. No brains. No court leadership. No coaching. No chance.

I give up. Josh Smith can’t control his emotions. Mike Bibby is old, slow and fat. Joe Johnson is NOT A BIG GAME PLAYER. Are you listening, Rick Sund? Let Joe sign somewhere else next year — we’re mediocre with him, and we can be mediocre without him without having to pay him $20 million a year when he’s 35-36 years old at the end of the next contract.

I’d say “Fire Woody!” but I don’t even think that’s a topic of discussion anymore. Last night was likely his final home game, which is fine with me. Six years later, and Josh Smith still whines like a 3-year old and has no idea how to stay within the game. Six years later, and we’re still running stupid switches that ask Al Horford (!!!) to keep up with Brandon Jennings, who might be the quickest player in the league. And of course, once Jennings blows past Al as expected, Josh just watches him lay the ball in and sulks a little bit more every time.

Enough. 33 years rooting for this pathetic bunch of losers, and I’ve just had it. No bigger Hawks fan in this city than me over the years, but everyone has his limits. I quit.

Just like they did.

Beaten down Atlanta sports fan

April 29th, 2010
8:30 am

So glad I didn’t watch it or the Braves game. I may have slit my wrists.

Ry

April 29th, 2010
8:34 am

This team is just plain awful. I hope the Bucks close it out in game 6 so the Hawks can begin the search for a new coach.

Rickster

April 29th, 2010
8:37 am

Mark… can you please, in the future, pick AGAINST the local teams?

Thanks!

“Hawks-Bucks in Round 1: It’ll be over in five games, max
April 15th, 2010 by Mark Bradley:shock:

Just Being Real

April 29th, 2010
8:38 am

the funny thing is I’m used to these kinda results, being in Atlanta all my life what was I thinking a team from my hometown would make a run at anything!!!

NEW CARS

April 29th, 2010
8:38 am

I’ve been patiently awaiting all night the Amber Alert for Joe Johnson.. I don’t know what’s right or wrong, but relying on Johnson for leadership and Woodson for guidance does not seem to be the right recipe for winning in the clutch. We have great offensive options that could have been cultivated over the past couple of years instead of getting out of the way of Joe in the fourth quarter. Even the Bulls with MJ used the triangle to get other folks involved.
Mr. Bradley, whether we win the next two or not, it’s time to move in a different direction. A question that your crack research staff can answer. How many coaches in the last 20 years have been with their teams for more than five years? How many did it without ever winning a game in the second round of the playoffs?

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Bradley, Joe Salome, Neil W. Blackmon, Hawks Fan Zone, GdsPlanet2 and others. GdsPlanet2 said: 'It was like a bad dream': Actually, Game 5 was even worse: Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) (AJC photo by Jaso… http://bit.ly/dxVzmo [...]

Just Being Real

April 29th, 2010
8:44 am

How do you let them score 14 unanswered? Have Atlanta on your jersey. And one more thing why do we let a guy from nowhere go off on us, I still can’t say or spell dudes name but I KNOW Josh Smith knows, I think he got it tattoo on his back where girls put their boyfriends name.

bugman

April 29th, 2010
8:45 am

At Taco Mac last night watching the Hawks, Bravos and Caps play. Was basically there to watch the hockey but was glad I was able to catch all 3 side by side.

Of the 3 meltdowns that occurred, I thought the Hawks had the game in hand with a 10 point lead. Haha, that’s what I get for thinking beyond the cursed Atlanta sports regimes. Am I the only one that secretly wishes for failures hoping they result in overhauls that will FINALLY bear some fruit?

The Doc is correct, we need an exorcism in this town.

[...] have watched Atlanta Hawks Basketball for a long time and seen a lot of tough losses. In today’s AJC, Mark Bradley reminds us of 1989 game 5 where the Hawks lost to an undermanned Bucks team. The year before that you had two [...]

ATLBadger

April 29th, 2010
8:50 am

Hope Josh Smith enjoys another trip to Milwaukee!

Milwaukee deserves the win at this point and I doubt there’s many people outside of Atlanta who actually want to see the pathetic Hawks come back and win the series. Talent alone does not always guarantee success! Right now, the Bucks are the better TEAM.

JSD

April 29th, 2010
8:50 am

Thems Hawks are sweet & tastys. Thems just gots to stretch them creamy thighs if ems want to win good. Passings basketballs ain’t as easy as it looks. Have yem tried it lately? Ah shuxes. I just spilt my jello.

FromUpNorth

April 29th, 2010
8:50 am

This team, in its current state, has no right to even continue in the playoffs. They are little more than a bunch of really athletic, taller-than-average males who can play ball better than most dudes at your local gym. That’s it. They have no professionalism, no drive, and in the case of Josh Smith, no COMMON SENSE. Seriously, when will that dummy learn that he can NOT put up a long jumper/3-pointer in the 4th quarter with the game on the line??? And don’t even get me started on how the players ignored Woody in the time out as the refs reviewed Horford’s 3-point shot. The players don’t listen to the coach; the coach has no clue HOW to coach; and THAT means that personnel needs to change.

BTW, this comment comes from someone who has never played a game of organized b-ball in her life. I may not be an athlete, but I know enough about how the game SHOULD be played to know that this Hawks team needs to be rebuilt. I’m rooting for the Bucks and the Cavs (my old hometown team) from here on out.

Just Being Real

April 29th, 2010
8:51 am

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater
I had this talk with myself yesterday, sigh…

Gamer

April 29th, 2010
8:51 am

MUST WIN SITUATION!!!! HA! THIS SERIES SHOULD’VE NEVER BEEN CLOSE FOR THE BUCKS!!!

BRANDON JENNINGS GOT TOO MUCH SWAG FOR A ROOKIE!!! FIRST PLAYOFFS APPEARANCE…!!

JOE JOHNSON, JENNINGS IS STUNTING YOU!!! HE ISN’T JUST FLAUNTING AGAINST THE HAWKS ORG., JENNINGS IS BOASTING AGAINST YOU!!!

This is your time to shine for that new contract deal either for the Hawks or another team…

For all its worth, Joe you got to put it all on the line playing forty-eight minutes in Milwaukee..Guarding and stopping Jennings and scoring on whoever guarding you. John Salmon got away with some stiff hand-checking and hard body bumping.

MARVIN WILLIAMS NEED TO SHOW UP IN MILWAUKEE AS HE DID LAST NIGHT…

INSIDE, OUTSIDE GAME HAWKS. BUCKS DON’T HAVE A TRUE ANSWER FOR HORFORD OR JOSH SMITH.

JAMAL CRAWFORD, FIND YOUR SHOT BY DRIVING TO BASKET SOMETIMES..

MAKE BEDLAM HAWKS!!! STRIKE FRIGHT IN YOUR OPPONENT!!!

J

April 29th, 2010
8:53 am

Are you really that surprised by this? It happened 6-8 times during the regular season – 4th quarter scoring droughts that lead to embarassing losses. I would have been surprised if it didn’t happen in the playoffs. I just thought it would be in the 2nd round.

Dick

April 29th, 2010
8:53 am

I try to support the Hawks, but when a team shows no heart, very little character, and much selfishness whenever things get tough, it’s tough. Lack of concentration? Can’t get into rhythm? This isn’t middle school, this is their job, their career. I know that the other team can make things difficult, but counting exhibitions they’re closing in on 100 games this year and they still whine about concentration and rhythm. The Hawks, collectively, act like a group of immature little boys. I would break them up and bring some character in, but with the contracts they have I think we’re stuck with this crap.

PMC

April 29th, 2010
8:53 am

Cut your losses and just let Woody know he doesn’t have to comeback to Atlanta after Friday night.

Next Year!

April 29th, 2010
8:54 am

In 2010-11, the hawks should be much better–this year, they are young and still learning to play together. With a couple of good draft picks, they should go deep into the playoffs next season. They need to pay woody some big cash to keep him around so he doesn’t take the philly job and try to get d-wade from miami, but it may take $20 mil per year.