The Atlanta Hawks suffered their fifth loss in their last six games with a 93-80 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday, but head coach Larry Drew refrained from taking his team to task following the game.
"It would have been really easy to go into our locker room after the game and start ranting and raving about our performance tonight. But very early in tonight's game, I sensed our team was not very energized. Our success is predicated upon whether or not we come out with energy. I kind of sensed that what we've gone through over the last two or two-and-a-half weeks caught up with us tonight. Last night's game against Boston going to overtime, getting in at three o'clock in the morning, I did not sense the group collectively having that energy that I always talk about us playing with. Frankly, I think we hit a wall tonight, big time."
The Hawks started the game well starting 5-6 from the field and quickly grabbing an 11-1 lead. However, the Nets answered and had tied the score at 23-23 by the time the first quarter ended. Atlanta was outscored 70-57 the rest of the way and trailed by as many as 23 points in the second half before the second unit cut into the lead during garbage time.
Since February 20 Atlanta has played 11 games in 18 days. During that span they have gone from the east coast to the west coast and back again. They returned home for a couple of days before heading back out to Boston. In the last six games the Hawks have suffered a disappointing loss to the Suns, back-to-back losses in Los Angeles and Denver to close the road trip, an overtime loss to Boston before Saturday's loss to Brooklyn. Atlanta had chances to win in L.A. and in Boston but came up short at the end. Those close losses are even more problematic now as playoff positioning becomes more important.
That is life in the NBA but it is a case where the schedule combined with a lot of nagging injuries to multiple players is starting to catch up with the Hawks. The good news is, Atlanta now gets a couple of days to try and get their legs back under them. the bad news is the schedule is not going to get any easier as Drew also pointed out on Saturday.
"As I told the guys after the game, we will have to push through it. We have a stretch of games coming up, particularly this month, I believe in 26 days, there will not be two days in-between when we play. It's going to be every other day, or it's going to be back-to-back. We have to look at that, and we have prepare ourselves in every form, every shape, every fashion, as far as making sure we're ready night in and night out. This last 20 or 21 games, its' going to be important that we take care of ourselves physically."
The Hawks face another back-to-back starting on Tuesday in Miami and ending on Wednesday back in Atlanta against the Lakers.