Against the Lakers, the Hawks were in a 30-6 hole with 4:22 left to play in the first quarter, and against the Clippers, they got down 25-8 with 6:34 left in the first.
The game in Denver started similarly, with the Hawks getting down 12-0, but Trae Young’s 42 points helped turn the tide in that game.
Those first-quarter struggles reminded Pierce of last year's team, which started the season 3-16 and didn't reach 10 wins until Dec. 28.
“That was a knock on us last year,” Pierce said of falling behind early. “We were really bad the first six minutes of every first quarter, for about three months. I mean, really bad. And we got a glimmer of that on this road trip. The road trip in and of itself was brutal. We faced four of the top seven teams out west. Maybe four of the top seven teams in the league.”
Young, who had expressed disappointment with the Hawks’ effort in the deflating Clippers loss, said the need to start games off stronger was his main takeaway from the team’s time out west.
Young (who is averaging 27 points, four rebounds and 8.7 assists per game) continues to face plenty of pressure from defenses, especially considering Collins and Huerter aren’t there to draw any attention away from him.
“I think it’s just getting off to better starts,” Young said. “A lot of that has to do with the starters, a lot of that has to do with me getting off to better starts and not putting our team in such a big hole. You go up against really good teams like we’ve been playing on the road trip, you get down that much it’s hard to get back into the game and have to take the lead. We’re able to fight our way back into the game (but) it’s so hard that it takes all the energy out of us.”
The Hawks may be down Collins, who was suspended for 25 games on Nov. 5 for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program, and Huerter, who was diagnosed with a left rotator cuff strain with an associated shoulder capsule strain and will be re-evaluated Nov. 28.
But they’ll have to find ways to overcome that if they want to be competitive in Collins’ and Huerter’s absence.
“If you lose two of your main players, it’s going to affect your team drastically,” Young said. “So it’s definitely tough but it’s what it’s come to right now, so we’ve got to find a way to win without them right now until they get back.”