Hawks vs Timberwolves: Slow start dooms Atlanta in Minnesota

Greg Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Hawks coach Larry Drew called his team's play in the first half of Tuesday's loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves "soft" and said changes would be made if the team can't overcome these lackadaisical starts.

The Atlanta Hawks' losing streak reached three-games with a 108-103 loss on Tuesday to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Sunday's team meeting that was held after a disappointing loss to the Boston Celtics didn't seem to have much effect at least in the early going as Atlanta fell behind by 16 points at halftime. The post game scrum with Larry Drew had a very familiar feel to it:

"The first half we were soft. Soft. We did not guard very well. I thought physically they did just about anything that they wanted to. We played with no urgency in that first half. I told the guys at halftime, it's not a sometimes thing. You can't come out and play sometimes. You've got to come out and start the game highly energized. We can't play normal. We can't be a team that just sits back and allows other teams to do what they want to do. We have to be the aggressor."

Drew went on to say that players would be held accountable for these slow starts and that there would be changes if things didn't improve quickly.

"There are some guys in there that are going to be held accountable," Drew said. "As we move forward, if this thing doesn't change there are going to have to be some changes. That's plain and simple. I'm not going to watch our guys come out and start every game and not be energized to play. That's totally unacceptable."

Drew stopped short of naming names but there are clearly a few candidates. Jeff Teague struggled with foul trouble and finished with just five points and no assists in just over 22 minutes of action. Teague scored 17 points on 7-14 shooting against the Celtics on Saturday but has struggled overall dating back to a 4-17 shooting performance against the Rockets on December 31. The Hawks are hopeful to have Devin Harris back from injury on Wednesday and that will provide Drew with another option at point guard.

If there is a positive to take out of this game it was that the Hawks were able to fight their way back into the game after being thoroughly outplayed in the first half. After the Celtics loss and subsequent team meeting, it would have been easy for the Hawks to fold the tents early in this one. Drew challenged his club at halftime and they responded although the offensive execution never really was there.

Atlanta's problems started on the boards where they were out rebounded 27-17 in the first half. The Hawks were able to flip the script in the second half as they out boarded the Timberwolves 27-16. However, Minnesota's 27 points on second chances combined with the 50-33 advantage in points in the paint is just too much to overcome. No team can play from behind every night and the Hawks have been doing their fair share of that lately.

Atlanta won't get a lot of time to dwell on the loss as they are right back at it on Wednesday against the Cavaliers. The three game skid is the first real test of the season for the Hawks. This is where that great chemistry that they have boasted about since training camp gets put to the test.

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