The Atlanta Hawks entered Friday night on the heels of a disastrous road trip, but with full knowledge that home cooking can often be good to right the ship in the NBA. Instead, the team put forth another ugly effort and it resulted in a lopsided 121-85 loss to the Detroit Pistons.
In keeping with recent tradition, the Hawks began the night on a sour note and that continued for a while. Detroit scored the first eight points of the evening as Atlanta missed its first five shots, and while the Hawks quickly responded to climb back into the proceedings, the worst of the half was yet to come.
The home team trailed by only three points to begin the second quarter, but the offense stagnated in a sharp and decisive way in the period. Atlanta scored only ten points over the first ten minutes of the quarter (yikes), and the Pistons zoomed to a 20-2 overall run to claim a 58-34 lead. The Hawks did score the final five points to cut the lead (insert laughter here) to 19 before the half, but it was a ghastly showing.
Prior to halftime, the Hawks shot 33.3% from the floor on the way to only a 77.9 offensive rating, and that was even more telling when concerned with the poor shot-making given that Atlanta only committed four turnovers. In fact, it would be a tall order to pick a Hawk that played above-average basketball in the first 24 minutes, and that is the recipe to dig a sizable hole.
Post-halftime, things did not get better. In fact, they got worse.
Mike Budenholzer elected to deploy an all-bench lineup to begin the third quarter, theoretically to send a message of some sort to his lackluster starting group, and that set a weird tone that was driven home by horrid play. By the time the third quarter ended, the Hawks were trailing by a comical 33 (!) points, and the game was over by all intents and purposes.
All told, the numbers were hideous on all sides. The Hawks scored at a sub-standard rate of 88.8 points per 100 possessions on the way to the 36-point defeat and, on the other end, the defense wasn’t exactly inspired in allowing 126.4 points per 100 and 59% shooting from beyond the three-point arc. Individually, there also wasn’t a lot to be excited about and that is putting it mildly.
This is one of those nights that would be easy to write off, except for the fact that there have been a handful of them recently. The Atlanta Hawks have lost eight of their last nine games to slip back to .500 on the season, and even with the caveat that Paul Millsap was not available for this game, it was an embarrassing effort by all parties.
On Saturday, the Hawks will face off with the Toronto Raptors on the road (without Millsap again) and, if Friday night and the last two weeks are any indication, expectations should be set quite low. Stay tuned.