Mar 2, 2013, 3:30 PM EDT
PHOENIX — Atlanta Hawks head coach Larry Drew was at a loss as to why his team, which had won four straight and six of its last seven, played so poorly against the Suns and lost 92-87 on Friday in Phoenix.
He needed only to take a walk through his postgame locker room to find some potential reasons why.
“I told the guys after the game, I thought we took a step back tonight,” Drew told reporters afterward. “We reverted to some bad habits. And what’s mind-boggling is the first three games of the road trip how well we played, how well we shared the ball, how well we executed; defensively, how active we’ve been. All those things, they took a back seat tonight.”
The Hawks have played well at times this season, but watching their entire body of work, you simply get the feeling that something isn’t right. Despite the fact that they currently sit in fourth place in the East, you also get the feeling that it would be a longshot for them to make it out of the first round of the playoffs.
It may be that the team’s mental makeup isn’t well-suited for long-term success.
Nothing about the way the Hawks played Friday made you think of the word “focused.” After Drew spent his pregame meeting with the media talking up the recent play of Al Horford (and with good reason), the Hawks spent the first quarter with the ball being dominated by Jeff Teague and Josh Smith, who combined to shoot 3-8 from the field in the period, while turning the ball over four times.
Smith was the worst of the two, missing two three-pointers and throwing the ball away three times, while his teammates saved two more horrendous passes that easily could have resulted in additional turnovers. Smith finished the night with just five points on 2-11 shooting, including going 0-5 from three-point distance. He also finished with five turnovers to cancel out his five assists.
Horford did have five attempts in the first, but only one of those came on a play specifically designed to get him a good look inside; two came on 20-foot jumpers that were just Horford’s decision, one came on a pick-and-roll that he initiated and converted, and the other he made while converting on a fast break. He ended up with 20 points on 16 shots, but Teague had more shots than Horford at the half, and combined with Smith to finish a dismal 5-21 shooting.
The Suns have won three straight, and ended the Spurs’ 18-game home-winning streak with an overtime win in San Antonio on Wednesday. The lineups Phoenix threw out there on Friday, however, especially in the fourth quarter when Goran Dragic was unable to return due to a lower back bruise he suffered in the third, should have allowed the Hawks to gain control; they could not.
Phoenix finished the game with Kendall Marshall, Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Wesley Johnson, and Jermaine O’Neal on the floor, all of whom played the entire fourth quarter. Those five had no trouble holding the 11-point lead that the Suns entered the final period with, as the Hawks were still down 10 with 2:21 to play. In fact, the closest Atlanta got was at the buzzer, when a three from Horford gave us the game’s final margin.
After it was over, had you entered the Hawks locker room without knowing the game’s outcome, you might have had a difficult time determining that this was where the losing team was getting dressed. The vibe was upbeat, positive, and loud, with animated conversations coming from both the shower area and the main room, and with plenty of guys smiling and joking around.
A towel-clad Ivan Johnson made a humorous remark when warning reporters to clear the way for him to get to his locker, and he and Smith spent several minutes discussing one of the game’s chippier incidents involving Johnson and Markieff Morris. The gist of the conversation was Smith mocking Morris for whatever bravado he was attempting to show, while saying “We all know he wasn’t going to do anything.” Johnson replied assertively, “He sure wasn’t.”
Smith changed his demeanor when the cameras and microphones were turned on, of course, and when I asked him if he believed what his coach had said, that the team took a step back with this loss, he didn’t necessarily see it that way.
“One game and you throw it out,” he said. “We were owed one of these games. You’re going to have games like this, it’s just our ability to bounce back from it. We can’t hang our heads and really dwell on it, we’ve got to look ahead.”
It was apparent that the players had moved on the moment this one was over.
May 22, 2013, 11:54 AM EDT
If you want to know what happens when you to right at Indiana’s Roy Hibbert at the rim, watch the video above or ask Carmelo Anthony — Hibbert sent him back dramatically in Game 6 last round. It changed the momentum of the game that eventually sent the Knicks fishing for the summer. So, LeBron…
May 22, 2013, 11:14 AM EDT
Whenever the Memphis Grizzlies’ season ends — which could be sooner rather than later if they don’t start cutting off Tony Parker at the point of attack, but that’s another post — Lionel Hollins is going to be a popular guy. Hollins’ contract is up as coach of the end of this season, and while…
May 22, 2013, 10:25 AM EDT
Who do you want to believe? Monday came a report from the very reliable Dave McMenamin at ESPNLosAngeles.com that in his exit interview Dwight Howard expressed frustration with coach Mike D’Antoni to GM Mitch Kupchak. Which isn’t hard to believe if you watched the Lakers at all this year. But when Kevin Ding of the…
May 22, 2013, 8:45 AM EDT
NEW YORK – Kevin Love and Flip Saunders shared lunch yesterday, as both were headed to the NBA Draft lottery that night. They talk about the same issues that dominate their bi-daily conversations – leadership, expectations, workouts and, as Saunders put it, “more than anything, just about the vision that we have and how we…
May 22, 2013, 8:44 AM EDT
The top pick in the NBA draft hasn’t been traded in two decades — elite talent wins in this league and you get that by being bad, winning the lottery and drafting it. But there is no elite talent in this year’s draft class. So…. It’s been said by people around the league for a…
May 22, 2013, 8:12 AM EDT
Tony Parker takes what you give him. If you want him to score, he can do that — he is quick getting to the rim, has a solid jumper and still has the best floater in the game. But if you take away his shot he will beat you with the pass. And he beat…
May 22, 2013, 2:57 AM EDT
That was more like what we expected out of this series — close, intense, physical. Well, it was close for the final 17 minutes (just ignore the first 36), but in the end the Spurs got the win and are up 2-0 in the series. Here are three takeaways from this game. • Yes, Tony…
May 22, 2013, 1:32 AM EDT
The Spurs looked every bit as dominant through three quarters of Game 2 against the Grizzlies as they did in completing a rout of their opponent in the first game of the series. Memphis couldn’t score, Tony Parker was carving up the Grizzlies’ defense on the way to a career-high 18 assists, and San Antonio…
Tony Allen flops on flagrant foul from Manu Ginobili that helped Grizzlies force overtime in Game 2 (VIDEO)
May 22, 2013, 12:45 AM EDT
Late in the fourth quarter of Game 2 between the Spurs and the Grizzlies, San Antonio was clinging to a four-point lead with under 30 seconds remaining. Manu Ginobili was double-teamed by Zach Randolph and Tony Allen, and lost the ball to Randolph, who flipped it ahead to Allen for what was sure to be…
May 21, 2013, 11:36 PM EDT
Two years ago, Nick Gilbert made famous his catch phrase – “What’s not to like?” – when his father’s Cavaliers won the NBA Draft lottery with Nick as the team’s on-stage representative. Since, Nick has been asked many times, “What’s not to like?” by interviewers who expect a response without considering that the phrase is…
May 21, 2013, 11:13 PM EDT
NEW YORK – If Mike Krzyzewski is unsure whether to return as USA Basketball’s coach for the 2016 Olympics, would Kevin Love try to convince the Duke coach to return? “Of course,” Love said. Love said he’s been in “constant contact” with Men’s National Team Director Sean Ford about Krzyzewski’s status. “I’ve really enjoyed my…
May 21, 2013, 11:00 PM EDT
That sequence — seven missed shots inside five feet in a row — pretty much sums up the first half for Memphis. Tony Allen has his shot rejected blocked. But he got the ball back then missed a bunny. Zach Randolph came in and missed a tip in (he was 1-of-10 shooting in the first…
May 21, 2013, 9:18 PM EDT
You need some luck if you’re going to build a winner through the lottery (just ask the Thunder). Cleveland has gotten it’s share luck lately. Or, it’s just Karma balancing itself out, if you prefer. For the second time in three years the Cleveland Cavaliers have got the balls to bounce their way and have…
May 21, 2013, 8:08 PM EDT
While the defensive minded teams are left (not so coincidentally) and that has some fans missing the flavor of the day in the NBA playoffs (Curry?), there have been some good plays. So for a little fun, here are the top 10 dunks of the second round of the NBA playoffs as compiled by the…
May 21, 2013, 7:44 PM EDT
UPDATE 7:44 pm: Michael Jordan stepped on stage and made it official. Saying he wanted to “bring the buzz back” to Charlotte, he confirmed that the Bobcats will change their names to the Hornets. The goal is to have that in place by the start of the 2014-15 season (they will play one last season…
May 21, 2013, 6:54 PM EDT
And then there were four… With the NBA down to the final four in the conference finals, today Kay Adams and I talk about the Heat and the Pacers. The central matchup to me is Roy Hibbert and Chris Bosh — how much of a disruptive force can Hibbert be defensively if he is watching…
May 21, 2013, 5:28 PM EDT
Bryan Colangelo is still going to collect a paycheck from the Raptors. But he’s not going to have sway over the basketball side of the operations — and that’s what matters most to Raptors fans. Tim Leiweke, the new CEO of Raptors owner Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, confirmed previous reports Tuesday on a conference…
May 21, 2013, 4:51 PM EDT
SEASON RECORDS Indiana 49-33 (Third seed in East) Miami 66-16 (First seed in East) PLAYOFF RECORDS Indiana 8-4 (beat Atlanta 4-2 in the first round, New York 4-2 in the second) Miami: 8-1 (swept Milwaukee in first round 4-0, beat Chicago 4-1 in the second) SEASON SERIES Indiana won the regular season series 2-1 with…
May 21, 2013, 3:34 PM EDT
Phil Jackson was on the Dan Patrick show Tuesday — Jackson’s new book “11 Rings” is on sale as of today — and sat down for a long interview. I mean long — this is nearly 30 minutes, so you should only listen to this at work and not spend your valuable personal time on…
May 21, 2013, 3:07 PM EDT
Clippers owner Donald Sterling created a little stir when he was near the court watching Game 1 between the Spurs and Grizzlies Sunday — he didn’t bother to attend all of his own team’s playoff games, why was he suddenly at this one? Was he scouting potential coaches such as the Grizzlies Lionel Hollins or…
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- Kevin Love and Flip Saunders hitting it off 5
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- Spurs need overtime in Game 2 to beat Grizzlies, take a 2-0 series lead 2
- Cavaliers bask in another lottery victory 12
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- Kobe Bryant responds to Michael Jordan comparison from Phil Jackson (88)
- Alonzo Mourning says Scottie Pippen says LeBron would “kick Jordan’s ass” (75)
- Bradley Beal said he’d lose respect for a teammate who acted like Derrick Rose (67)
- Seattle group releases statement; forced to wait, hope for expansion (64)
- Tiger calls Sergio's comments inappropriate, hurtful
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- PBT: Cavs win NBA draft lottery, will pick No. 1
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