The Atlanta Hawks on Monday night scored the fewest points they have mustered since moving from St. Louis to Atlanta in 1968.
Atlanta had just 20 points in the first half and only five in the second quarter as they were drubbed by the Chicago Bulls 97-58.
It was the second-lowest total in franchise history since the shot clock was implemented for the 1954-55 season. In February 1955, the then-Milwaukee Hawks scored 57 points against the Boston Celtics.
Jeff Teague’s layup in the final seconds prevented the Hawks from breaking that dubious record. The 58 points broke the Atlanta Hawks’ previous mark for fewest points in a game, set in January 2011 when they scored 59 points in a loss to the New Orleans Hornets.
Drew told the team after the game there would be changes prior to Wednesday night’s home game against the Brooklyn Nets and then reiterated that sentiment to the press.
“This was very, very embarrassing,” Drew said. “From where we were as a team to where we are right now, we have lost all sense of team on both ends of the floor.
“Why that has happened, I really can’t put my finger on it. To have a team that started off so well, that really trusted and believed in each other at both ends of the floor, we have lost that sense of trust for one another. Why that has happened, I really have no idea. I will say, it’s time that we do shake things up. As we go back to Atlanta to prepare for Brooklyn, there will be some changes. We have to find a group that will compete on both ends at a high level with no excuses, with no finger-pointing as far as blaming officials, blaming each other. We have to go out and we have to play like our first few games of the season.”
The Hawks shot just 9.5 percent (2-for-21) in their dreadful second period Monday night, missing their first 11 shots of the quarter while falling behind 48-20 at halftime.
Atlanta wasn’t exactly red-hot in the first period, either, shooting 33.3 percent, 6-for-18.
For the game, the Hawks were an abysmal 28.4 percent from the floor (23-for-81). After a solid start, Atlanta has lost six of its last seven games and Monday’s loss was the Hawks’ fifth straight defeat on the road.
How bad was it for Atlanta on Monday? Mike Scott–a rookie averaging seven minutes a game and who has been a DNP-coach’s decision in 23 of the Hawks’ 37 games–led the team in scoring with 10 points in 16 minutes.
Atlanta was one of the surprise teams in the league through the first quarter or so of the season. The Hawks had a stretch in November during which they won six in a row and after a 95-86 win at New Orleans on New Year’s Day, Atlanta was 20-10 and just 1½ games behind the Miami Heat in the Southeast Division. The Hawks were also third in the Eastern Conference, ½ game in back of the New York Knicks.
After the Jan. 1 win over the Hornets, the Hawks were averaging 97.9 points per game and allowing just 95.6. But in the seven games since, during which Atlanta has gone 1-6, the team’s averages are 85.0 and 95.1.
Obviously, the 58-point performance in Chicago has a dramatic effect on such a small sample size, but the Hawks have failed to score more than 84 points in five of their last seven games. Their stats for the last seven games are shown in the table below, along with a comparison to their overall season numbers (all but plus/minus are shown as per-game averages).
The shooting has gone particularly cold over the last seven games. Josh Smith is shooting just 40.6 percent from the floor, compared to 43.9 percent overall. Kyle Korver’s shooting percentage from 3-point range, where he takes almost ¾ of his shots, is down to 43.9 as he’s hit just 32.5 percent of his bombs during the last seven games.
Smith’s downturn has come at the same time that trade talks involving the enigmatic forward have heated up. It could be a coincidence or the trade discussions could be getting inside Smith’s head.
Their lone win during that stretch came Friday at home, a 103-95 win over the Utah Jazz. But since New Year’s Day, the Hawks lost 85-84 at Detroit, 89-81 at home to Boston, 108-103 at Minnesota, 99-83 at Cleveland, 93-83 at Washington and the infamous 97-58 loss Monday night at Chicago.
Because Miami has also been slumping, losing six of its last 10, the Hawks are still only 3 ½ games behind the Heat in the Southeast. But they’ve slid three positions in the Eastern Conference race, down to sixth.
Atlanta is still comfortably ahead of the ninth-place Philadelphia 76ers, holding a 5 ½-game edge, but its lead over seventh-place Boston is just one game and it leads the eighth-place Milwaukee Bucks by just 1½ games. The Bulls were able to leapfrog the Hawks with the win Monday night, moving into fifth place in the East.
It’s far too early to write the Atlanta Hawks off due to what could just be a normal midseason slump. But they don’t look anything like the surprise contenders they appeared to be over the first two months of the season.
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