CHICAGO – This one wasn’t just bad. It was franchise-worst bad.
The Hawks scored a meager 20 first-half points, including five points in the second quarter, in an embarrassing 97-58 loss to the Bulls Monday night at the United Center. The final, first-half and second-quarter point totals were the lowest in Atlanta team history.
Following the game, Hawks coach Larry Drew promised lineup changes and said his team has mentally and physically “flat-lined.”
The Hawks nearly set the record for fewest franchise points in game of 57 set in by the Milwaukee Hawks against Boston on Feb. 27, 1955. Only a Jeff Teague layup in the closing seconds prevented that record. The lowest point total in Atlanta history was 59 points, coming in a loss to New Orleans on Jan. 21, 2011.
The Hawks shot 9.5 percent (2 of 21) in the second quarter. They didn’t score until an Al Horford basket with 5:17 remaining after missing their first 11 shots. They were outscored in the period 22-5 as the Bulls built a 28-point halftime lead (48-20). The Hawks also committed six turnovers in the period. It wasn’t like the Hawks shot well in the first quarter at 33.3 percent (6 of 18).
In a brief post-game address, Drew told his team would be changes. Then he left the locker room. Drew again promised changes in his address of the media.
“This was a very, very embarrassing,” Drew said. “From where we were as a team to where we are right now we have lost all sense of team on both ends of the floor. Why that has happened, I really can’t put my finger on it. To have a team that started off so well, that really trusted and believed in each other at both ends of the floor, we have lost that sense of trust for one another. Why that has happened, I really have no idea. I will say, it’s time that we do shake things up. As we go back to Atlanta to prepare for Brooklyn (at home Wednesday), there will be some changes. We have to find a group that will compete on both ends at a high level with no excuses, with no finger-pointing as far as blaming officials, blaming each other. We have to go out and we have to play our first few games of the season.
“We need to shake things up and that will be the first line of business when we get back to Atlanta is to make some changes within our lineup.”
Asked what specific lineup changes might be made, Drew said simply “Lineup changes.”
It didn’t get much better for the Hawks in the second half.
Devin Harris was called for a Flagrant I foul on Kirk Hinrich at 10:23 left in the third quarter. Harris got his body into Hinrich as the Bulls guard went up for a layup, knocking him to the ground. Hinrich immediately got up and ran at Harris only to be restrained.
“More than I wanted,” Harris said of the contact. “I was wrestling with Rip (Hamilton) at some point and he pushed me and I hit him. It definitely was worth the flagrant. I didn’t try to hit him as hard as I did.”
The Bulls would lead by as many as 34 points in the third quarter. For the game the Hawks shot 28.4 percent (23 of 81).
“The disturbing thing is the effort part,” Drew said. “I shouldn’t have to come out and coach effort every single night. Effort is something that they should bring. They are being paid to bring effort every single night. Maybe it’s the chemistry right now. I don’t know but I’m going to have to do something to jump start us because right now we have flat-lined. Not just from a physical standpoint. Mentally, we have flat-lined and I’ve got to find a way to resuscitate this team.”
The Hawks (21-16) drag themselves home from the loss. They have dropped six of the past seven games, including five straight road games. Seldom used rookie Mike Scott was the only double-digit scorer for the Hawks with 10 points in 16 minutes.
“It’s totally different,” Zaza Pachulia said. “It’s not as fun. We are making things more difficult compared to the way it used to be. We are coming to play, offensively or defensively. Body language is terrible. I don’t know what to tell you.”
The Bulls (21-15) jumped the Hawks in the Eastern Conference standings. Carlos Boozer led the Bulls with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Luol Deng added 18 points and Joakim Noah had 16 rebounds. The Bulls out-rebounded the Hawks 59-39.
“I’m not the head coach. I’m just a basketball player,” Josh Smith said of Drew’s promised changes. “He is our leader and our director. Whatever he decides I have to be behind him 100 percent. … Whatever he thinks we need to do is what we need to do.”
At one point this season the Hawks were 20-10 but times have changed as they have won just once since. They had to come back from a 15-point deficit to win that game.
“We don’t play with the same sense of urgency,” Kyle Korver said. “We are not running the floor as well. We are not getting easy shots. We don’t get any easy shots right now. At the beginning of the year we really stressed being a fast-break team and wanting to get out and shoot and trap and cause havoc. We are not playing with that sense of urgency.”