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Hawks once again searching for answers after loss to Heat

The Atlanta Hawks laid an egg in their return from the All-Star break.

NBA: Miami Heat at Atlanta Hawks Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks returned from the All-Star break in disappointing fashion Friday night with a 108-90 blowout loss to the Miami Heat. Atlanta is now 4-5 in February and players and coaches are once again searching for answers.

“Miami continues to play high-level basketball on both ends of the court. A lot of credit to them,” Mike Budenholzer said after the game.

“Their players are doing a great job. For the final quarter, we hung with them. It felt like with a couple of breaks, we maybe could’ve been up in the first quarter. The second quarter, 38 points defensively is....you look at it at halftime, a lot of it is basic transition defense. They’re getting inside us and finishing in the paint, getting inside us and hitting open three’s. We have to do a better job of keeping the ball in front of us. Offensively I think we can be a lot better. It was an ugly game for us.

The Hawks were without their starting point guard Dennis Schröder on Friday who was serving a one-game suspension by the team for failure to report following the All-Star break. Schröder reportedly had visa troubles when returning from Germany but the team was none too pleased with his absence. Atlanta could have used him against the Heat as their offense stalled and they finished with just 14 assists in the game.

“Credit to them,” Budenholzer said when asked about his team’s low assist total. “I don’t feel like it was a real sharp game for us. I don’t think we were crisp. I do think they were playing very, very good defense. It was a little bit of both. I don’t think we were very good. We had some opportunities.”

The Hawks shot just 38 percent from the field but also struggled to contain Miami on the defensive end of the floor and particularly at the three-point line. The Heat knocked down 17 of 37 three-point attempts in Friday’s game.

“We switched maybe a little more than usual tonight,” Budenholzer said of his team’s three-point defense. “Sometimes, just in our one-on-one situation....they’re doing a great job of driving the ball. They’re doing a great job of getting a shoulder and getting an edge. They finish enough when they kick it. They’re doing a great job of balancing it. We talked about it coming out of the break. It’s just coincidental that we played a team tonight where that’s an emphasis. We have to do a better job of keeping the ball in front of us.”

Atlanta is 18th in the league in opponent’s three-point percentage at 36.1 percent.

The loss drops the Hawks to 32-25 on the season and they fall 1.5 games behind the Toronto Raptors for fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta is 2.5 games in front of sixth place Indiana.

“Win the next game, that’s the mindset,” Dwight Howard said when asked what the mindset was for the remainder of the season. “This game is over with. No game is easy to flush, we just have to get ready for tomorrow. They hit a lot of three’s. We missed a lot of shots. We have to get ready for the next one.”

Atlanta will wrap up a back-to-back on Saturday in Orlando before flying to Boston for a matchup against the Celtics on Monday.