The Hawks have gone from soaring to slogging

Atlanta Hawks center Tiago Splitter (11) and Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) battle for a rebound in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Clipped by the Clippers. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Watching the Atlanta Hawks this time a year ago made you want to compose sonnets. Watching them today makes you wonder, “Where’d that sonnet stuff go?”

They aren’t the same. The record — after losing to the Clippers at Philips Arena on Wednesday, they’re 27-20 — tells us so, but it’s not just the record. It’s how they look. There’s none of that soaring stuff that moved us to wax rhapsodic during their undefeated January 2015. They’re no longer the team that carried pace-and-space to idyllic extremes. They’re just another halfway decent club.

That’s not to say they should pull a Braves and quit on the season. They’re leading the Southeast Division. They’re four games behind Toronto, which at the moment would be the East’s No. 2 seed. It’s not inconceivable that they could reach the Eastern Conference finals again. (Though it’s hard to envision them beating Cleveland. Then again, the Cavaliers have issues of their own.)

But here’s the thing: Everything the Hawks do now is a grind. They lack the separation gear of last winter. They lost Wednesday to a West Coast team on the second night of an Eastern back-to-back and the end of a five-game excursion, a team that missed six layups in the first four minutes and 22 of 27 treys on the night. (Also a team playing without the chastened Blake Griffin, man in the news.)

Granted, the Hawks were coming off a Western swing, and the longstanding NBA truth is the first night back at home is kindling for a flameout. But this was a game a really good team playing at home wins. The Hawks are only a pretty good team.

This being the NBA, they had a chance. Kyle Korver’s 3-pointer with 24.6 seconds remaining gave them a one-point lead. DeAndre Jordan’s dunk off Chris Paul’s penetration and pass grabbed it back. In the final 10 seconds, Paul Millsap missed a 4-footer, Al Horford missed a free throw and — after Jeff Teague deflected the inbounds pass off Paul — Millsap missed a layup to tie. Clippers 85, Hawks 83.

(The Hawks are now 15-8 at home. They were 35-6 last season. Just sayin’.)

Here we state the obvious: A year ago, the Hawks don’t lose this game. But these aren’t the Hawks of a year ago and they won’t be again. That was a special season. (At least until they ran into Cleveland in May.) This is a new year without DeMarre Carroll and Danny Ferry, with Horford turning into a 3-point shooter — he tried five treys Wednesday, missing four; he has taken 140 3-point shots on the season, more than twice as many as over his first eight NBA seasons — and becoming a substandard rebounder.

And I wouldn’t expect much help from pre-deadline trades. As noted here, there’s no compelling reason to unload either Horford — who can become a free agent at season’s end — or Teague. Unless the Pelicans are in a mood to part with Anthony Davis (and they never will be), there’s nobody available who’d effect an immediate upgrade. The die was cast on this season when Carroll signed with Toronto, and everything since has been a tepid variation on last season’s stirring theme.

In other words, no more sonnets. Just a pretty good team slogging through its year after.

Reader Comments 0

16 comments
atlfanman
atlfanman

The Hawks are not shooting well, they normally have less rebounds than their opponents and are relatively small at the center and forward positions. To make matters worse their defense is inconsistent. Too many 2's and 3's with no center in sight. The drafting under both Ferry and Coach Bud of first round picks has been a failure. Only Dennis Schroeder have been a major contributor in the league. Hopefully the Hawks will make an intelligent trade to fix their issues.


fantom5
fantom5

I said before the season this team would be figured out by the league, and they have been.  Second I said they would not win 50 games. (check mark)  


A few things I would do.  Fire Bud as President, GM, ticket taker and whatever to being the danged head coach and do what you were hired to do.  Coach basketball full time.


Next I would package Horford, Teague, and whoever else the Kings might want and trade for Boogie Cousins, the best center in the NBA.


Horford will not be here after this season because he will demand a max contract.


The Kings will part with Cousins because he demands one thing they are not willing to do.  And that is win.  Cousins is like Bird in the regard that he wants to win at all costs.  We need a lot of that here in the ATL.   All of our teams as I think about it.

AtlantaDude
AtlantaDude

DeMarre is gone, and the Korver of last year is gone due to age and/or teams figuring him out sometime late last year.  


So, you have lost two-fifths of the team that drove the great record through most of last year.  And we are supposed to be surprised about that?  I hope Dominique is happy that we ran Ferry off.  Making Bud the GM was insane.  While he is game planning for tonight's game, the real GMs in the league are looking for ways to improve their teams.


Here's one for you - Horford and his expiring contract straight up for suddenly out of favor Blake Griffin.  Would help the Clippers in their "win now" mode and would get us something in return for Al.  

khd713
khd713

Carroll was our MVP player last season, and Ferry was our MVP GM. Both are gone, and not surprisingly the team just ain't the same.


Horford looks like he's vying to become the next Josh Smith. Why would anyone want to do that?

candlin14
candlin14

I would like to thank the PC Police for ruining this team. The best thing ATL had going for them was Danny Ferry. But one stupid comment gets him canned and sent packing. Its funny how Lebron James can single handily get a top seeded coach Fired from his job (this would have been the second time, but Lebron was unsuccessful in Miami with Spoelstra), YET NO ONE SAYS ANYTHING.


This team did absolutely nothing to get better from last year. The team has honestly got worse ever since the start of the first game in the Eastern Conference Finals. 


I hate Al Horford shooting 3's as much as I hate Thomas Dimitrioff keeping his job as the Falcons GM. This city has absolutely no problem living up to its name, THE MOST MISERABLE SPORTS TOWN IN AMERICA..


Every team in this state From UGA, to the Braves, to the Hawks, to the Falcons, makes some of the dumbest front office management and coaching decisions. I would say 80% of Atlanta fans wants Freddie Gonzalez fired and yet we keep him. I would say 97% of Falcons fans wanted Dimitrioff gone and we keep him. I would say 75% of ATL fans wanted Ferry to stay and let him go. With Mark Richt, its too tough to tell, but UGA did the right thing in my opinion in letting him go but a HORRIBLE decision to hire an unproven Kirby Smart. We have no wheels left on the bus in this city!!!!  

2112thDawg
2112thDawg

They look lost and like they forgot how to play offensive basketball. Al Horford shooting 3 pointers makes no sense. He's playing defense out at the guard position and not anywhere near rebounding the ball. The offense looks clueless and haphazard. The ball handling has been atrocious. They can't shoot either, or finish drives, and to beat a dead horse still getting killed on the boards.... The draft was a disaster too. Danny Ferry please come back!!! Falling into the familiar irrelevant abyss!!!! 

tyger
tyger

@2112thDawg Noticed the same, Horford criticized for low rebounds, but how you going to rebound when you posted up at the 3pt. line?

Jacket Detective
Jacket Detective

Insane to part company with Ferry; by far the best of Atlanta's GMs.

New owners about to find that out.

tyger
tyger

Hawks can't stand prosperity...


Horford's return capped off 60 wins...

While East historically weak...

But last year is long gone...


Hawks 3 games outta 8th spot...

Overachievers now underachievers...

Didn't expect another 60 wins but...

This collective looks bad, loses bad...


Kings, Suns, Nuggets, Clippers, Pacers...(1-4)


Wheels have fallen off is premature...

But deep concern is reasonable...


Hawks missing game winning layups...

Hawks turning ball over like flapjacks...

Winners don't do that...just the opposite...


There is a disconnect...

Is it the coaching? They look bad...


Is it the lack of upper-level talent?

They do look slower, less skilled...


Is it a lack of on-court leadership?

Highest paid missing game winners...

Doesn't breed confidence...


Hawks have to shake this up...

Plenty of time left - 40+ games...

But accumulated 2nd rd picks...

Have a low ceiling...



petrmarek
petrmarek

Here we go again:

New owners: What did you do, and  who did you bring to go to the finals, as  promised? The minimum wage Tiago? You get what you paid for!

New managers: How is it going, Grant? Have not been hearing anything from you!

 No one to go to the hoop (minor exceptions Teag, Schroder), so we settle for perimeter shooting ( and we all know how this has been going). This is just the beginning of a long, long slide, and they have no clue. It started earlier, last night the end of the game was just an example...

 Nothing new in this city. Just following  the steps of other successful Atl teams teams...Braves, Falcons, Thrashers, Dream, UGA,GT....

 Ferry was the only one who understood the game and who would put together this team to reach the finals.

 Such a shame of having another ignorant and clueless organization.. 

Czarlite
Czarlite

Demarre's departure is not what's missing. He was just a piece (a good piece) of a well run team. This teams shooting /  pace is completely off and that translates into a offense that can be stopped. 

HotDawg
HotDawg

Last year was a fluke. Shouldn't have fired Ferry.

Spring football will soon be here. Then more sports boredom till September.

.Unless you're pumped to see an image of the mid-late '80s Braves.

DrTruth
DrTruth

And they said running off Danny Ferry was no big deal.  We'll just name Coach Bud as President of Basketball Operations and he can handle it all.  It never ceases to amaze me how the professional teams of Atlanta repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot.


Meet the new Hawks.....Same as the old Hawks.  But hey, at least the front office is now 100% politically correct, right?  Geeeez....

HotDawg
HotDawg

The problem with race drama in sports.

Making mountains out of molehills, majority of time.

PC crowd ruins everything.