The up-and-down Hawks are down again.
The Hawks trailed by as many as 23 points en route to a 93-80 loss to the Nets Saturday night at Philips Arena. It was the second straight loss, and fifth in the past six games, for the struggling team.
After starting the game on an 11-1 run, making 5 of the first 6 shots, the Hawks shot just 38 percent the remainder of the game. They finished shooting 5 of 18 from 3-point range and two of those came in the fourth quarter after the game was out of hand. Despite the fast start, coach Larry Drew said his team was tired from a heavy schedule of late, including an overtime loss at the Celtics Friday night.
“It would have been easy to go into our locker room after the game and start ranting and raving about our performance tonight but very early in tonight’s game I sensed our team was not very energized,” Drew said. “I’ve always made the statement as far as our play, our success, is predicated with playing with energy. Sitting there I sensed what we’ve gone through over the past two and a half weeks caught up with us. … Frankly, I think we hit a wall tonight. Big time.”
The Hawks (34-28) had an eight-game home win streak snapped against the Nets, who had not won in Atlanta since Nov. 15, 2008. The defeated dropped the Hawks into seventh place in the Eastern Conference, a half-game behind the Celtics.
Al Horford had a double-double for the Hawks with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Josh Smith finished with 12 points on 5 of 12 shooting with six rebounds and four turnovers. Johan Petro had 10 points, all in the first quarter.
“It’s been tough,” Horford said. “We’ve been in some of these games right down until the end. It’s a play here or there. We have 20 games left and it’s a tough stretch. We are going to have to do some soul searching and get it together.”
The Nets (37-26) won their third straight game and fifth of sixth on the road.
Brook Lopez and Andray Blatche led the Nets with 18 points apiece. Deron Williams had 17 points. Williams was coming off an NBA record nine first-half 3-pointers on his way to 42 points in a victory over the Wizards Friday. He made 2 of 7 from long range against the Hawks.
The Nets opened up a 21-point third quarter lead. The Hawks used a mini-run to trim their deficit to 13 before the Nets put the game away.
“Every game has been different,” Devin Harris said. “We’ve had different problems each and every game. Tonight, was an energy problem for us, sort of running out of gas. We have to find a stretch to find that confidence that we had from the All-Star break. I’m sure we can find it. We’ve done it before. We’ve been sort of up and down all year long. I’m confident that we will get back to the drawing board, correct the things that need to be corrected and get back on the winning side.”
Despite falling behind 11-1 to start the game, the Nets rallied to tie the game by the end of the first quarter. They started the second quarter on a 19-8 run to open a double-digit lead of their own. The Nets grew the advantage to 14 points, taking a 51-37 lead into intermission.
The Hawks shot just 30 percent (7 of 23) in the second quarter. They committed five turnovers leading to nine Nets points.
Petro paced the Hawks early scoring 10 first-quarter points. At one point, the center was outscoring the Nets 8-7.
“At this stage of the season, we cannot use any type of excuses,” Drew said. “Everybody has a tough schedule. Everybody is tired. Everybody is banged up. We have to step forward as men, accept the challenge and we have to come out and we have to do everything that we need to do to ensure we come out and play with energy.”
Kyle Korver extended his streak to 55 games with a 3-pointer. With his first-quarter long-range basket he tied former Hawk Mookie Blaylock for 31st on the NBA’s all-time 3-point list (1,283).
Next up for the Hawks is a matchup with the Heat in Miami Tuesday followed by a home game against the Lakers Wednesday.
“This point of the year everyone is (tired),” Horford said. “All the teams are dealing with it. I think that we had a little carryover from the game last night. We fought very hard in the game in Boston (an overtime loss) and I just think we started out OK but we couldn’t maintain that rhythm. It’s tough. We have a tough task ahead of us. We have to regroup and go into Miami.”