The Atlanta Hawks suffered another defeat on Monday at the hands of the undermanned Portland Trail Blazers, with defense being a key issue yet again. The Blazers scored 136 points without Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, as Anfernee Simons went for a career-high 43 points while Norm Powell poured in 26.
Despite Trae Young scoring 56 points and dishing out 14 assists, the Hawks were unable to pull out the win as they allowed Portland to score 30+ points in all four quarters in the loss. The three-point line was particularly an area of concern, as the Blazers were able to generate a ton of good looks. They were 12-of-24 from three-point range at the half, and didn’t slow down from there.
Atlanta Hawks President of Basketball Operations Travis Schlenk went on 92.9 The Game on Tuesday morning to discuss the state of the team, and offered a seemingly angry, extended rant regarding the teams poor defensive performance.
“We’re seeing the same thing every game,” said Schlenk to 92.9. “Again last night, we had the lead going into the fourth quarter then we can’t keep it. I sound like a broken record here, but it’s the same thing every game.”
Schlenk added that in the end, he’s responsible for what happens on the floor and that he and his staff will have to continue to look at what changes can be made to fix some of the recurring issues.
“Again, ultimately this all falls on me,” added Schlenk. “So we’ve got to take a long look at this and see if this group is the group we saw last year in the second half of the season of if it’s the group we’re seeing this year. And that’s what we have to determine and we have to make adjustments off those. Obviously, you can tell I’m a little frustrated.”
Accountability and urgency are some of the big issues Schlenk seems to have with his club’s defense.
“I think there’s a belief that we’re a good team, there’s a belief that we can score,” added Schlenk on the Hawks’ defensive struggles. “But right now there’s no sense of urgency to make a stop, no sense of accountability...it’s just not there. You guys watch the games, if somebody gets scored on, they go down on the other end. It doesn’t bother them (the Hawks).”
Schlenk added that potential changes may need to be made ahead of the trade deadline in a few weeks, and questioned himself and construction of the roster in general in quite surprisingly candid fashion.
“It’s a hard pill to swallow when your team is not playing as well as you think it should. Maybe I need to lower my expectations for this team, ultimately this all falls on my shoulders. I put this group together and they’re not responding. We need to take deep look into this for sure.”
In regards to what moves need to be made, Schlenk naturally did not offer much of a response, but he did say “I don’t think there’s any reason for us not to be” in regards to whether the team would be active ahead of the NBA’s trade deadline in a few weeks.
“Maybe it wasn’t such a great idea to bring everybody back, that’s on me. We have a few weeks here at the trade deadline and that’s what I need to figure out...it’s my responsibility to put a product on the floor that can win. Right now I’m questioning whether or not I have done that.”
Schlenk also added a bit of an injury update on De’Andre Hunter, who is near the eight-week timeline that was laid out for him. Hunter played some 1-on-1 “the other day,” and will soon progress to 3-on-3 before moving to 5-on-5, hopes Schlenk. A timeline was not offered.
Additionally, John Collins, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Gorgui Dieng are all “moving in the right direction” in terms of clearing health and safety protocols, per Schlenk.
These were interesting comments from Atlanta’s lead decision maker to say the least, as he directly called out the team for their defensive performance. His critiques are warranted, though some may question the public manner of his remarks.
The Hawks will be back in action from Sacramento vs. the Kings on Wednesday as their road trip continues.