The Atlanta Hawks lost for the third straight time on Tuesday with a disappointing effort in a 112-94 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. The skid comes at an inopportune time for Atlanta who depart on a five-game road trip starting Wednesday in Indiana.
For the Hawks there appears to be no clear cut answer. The losing streak began last Friday when they saw a fourth quarter lead slip away in the final minutes against the Hornets after Dwight Howard was ejected. They have struggled both offensively and defensively in the two games since.
Tuesday’s game against the Pelicans may have been their flatline moment. New Orleans raced out to a 34-14 lead after one and extended it to 51-21 in the second. Atlanta fought back to within 18 in the second half but were never a serious threat after the moments.
Slow starts have been common place so far for Atlanta and much of the Hawks success has come due to the excellent play of their bench unit. Per NBA.com, Atlanta’s starters have been on the court together for 143 minutes this season and they have been outscored by 38 points. That grouping has a net rating of minus-11.8 and is turning the ball over at an alarming rate.
Small sample size still applies but that has to concerning especially when you factor in the realization that the bench will eventually cool off.
Atlanta’s offense has always been fueled by its defense and they were absolutely shredded by the Pelicans.
“They were too comfortable,” Mike Budehnolzer said. “They were too free. They had a lot of open looks.”
New Orleans shot 56 percent from the field, made 11 of 20 three-point attempts and turned the ball over just eight times. The Hawks manufactured just nine points from those eight turnovers. Atlanta “only” turned the ball over 12 times in Tuesday’s game but those led to 24 points for the Pelicans.
The good news is that in the NBA the next game or opportunity is usually just a day away. Atlanta travels to Indiana on Wednesday which is the first of five straight on the road. The Pacers are dealing with a number of injuries to key players so the Hawks will have to opportunity to get back on track.