It only took three losses, but opponents now have a clear understanding of how to beat the Atlanta Hawks. Drill three pointers at a clip your team will not see the rest of the season and force long jumpers by the Hawks. Considering how well the Hawks have played, it is tough to look at this game as anything other than aberration. The Hornets shot 12% higher from three than from the free throw line. The Hawks shot 18% from three, 37% for the game. It was horrible. It was ugly. The team looked exhausted. It made me tired just watching them.They could not run where they have run all season, they could not rotate with that extra step they have when it counted. It was treading water all game. There were no spurts. No runs. Just survival, and at some point, the three pointers are going to rain down enough to drown you.
Woodson had some questionable decisions, the refs made some questionable calls, Joe Johnson took some questionable shots, but down seven with two minutes to go, Joe Johnson drove the ball and was fouled. The lead could have been cut to five, but there was no call and the result was another run out three pointer for the Hornets. A fresh and focused Hawks would have whined about the call a little less, fought for the offensive rebound a little harder, got back on defense a little faster, but tonight, none of that was there. Considering how faithful the Hawks have been all season in those areas, a small reprieve may be necessary.
It is a small reprieve though. Like until Thursday. Because this Hawks team already has set new expectations, 82 wins are not expected, but 82 strong efforts are. This game is over. A new one game season begins soon. The Hawks can be elite if they can isolate games like these, learn from them, move on, and beat a team like the Magic on national tv.