The All-Star break is just days away and it appears this Atlanta Hawks team needs the time off to collect their thoughts and to recharge. Atlanta saw a big early lead slip away Monday night in a 117-110 overtime loss to the Orlando Magic that once again left them searching for answers to the inconsistent play that has plagued them this season.
"This is unfortunately, how our season has been," Mike Budenholzer said after the game. "Tough loss. We can't seem to put good games back-to-back. We don't always respond in a difficult situation."
The Hawks looked like they were ready to avenge Sunday's loss at the buzzer in Orlando when they jumped out to a 26-8 lead in the first quarter. The Magic closed the period with a 10-4 run and began to chip away at Atlanta's lead. Orlando outscored the Hawks 29-18 in the fourth and 16-9 in the overtime period.
"I thought we actually did respond in the first quarter," Budenholzer added. We came out with the right mentality, came out with the right approach. In the third quarter, same thing. We get up 18 and give up an 11-0 run coming out of that timeout. From that point, it's a game. They had 30-point quarters in the third and fourth quarters. They made more plays than us. We made a couple of mental mistakes, focus mistakes. We just have to be better. It was a tough loss."
For much of January, it was Atlanta's defense that was carrying the Hawks. Coming into Monday's game, the Hawks had climbed to fifth in defensive efficiency allowing less than 100 points per 100 possessions. Yet their inability to get stops in Monday's game wasted a pretty good performance offensively.
As Budenholzer mentioned in his opening statement, this season has been a bag of inconsistencies. The team has shown flashes of solid performances but has failed to put it together for any stretch of the season and the frustration is clearly starting to show.
"It's a 48-minute game," Budenholzer said. "I think we came out with the right approach but I think when you're up in the third quarter like that, we have to find a way to be better. I think we've got to be better late in games - myself, the players, everybody has to be better."