Hapless Hawks Nosediving In New Year

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The timing couldn’t be any worse.

Struggling through their ugliest stretch of the season, including Monday’s night’s horrific and his historically bad scoring effort in a loss to the Chicago Bulls, the Atlanta Hawks are set to host their former franchise player and six-time All-Star, Joe Johnson, and the surging Brooklyn Nets Wednesday night (7:30 ET, League Pass) at Philips Arena.

Losers of seven of their last nine games, the Hawks are losing their grip on what was, two weeks ago, a comfortable top-three position in the Eastern Conference playoff chase. The humiliating 97-58 loss to the Bulls has to be the low-point. The Hawks scored just five (yes, five!) points in the second quarter. It was the Hawks’ second fewest points scored in a game in the shot-clock era and punctuated their fifth straight road loss.

When your coach speaks the way Larry Drew did after the game, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Chris Vivlamore reports …

“The disturbing thing is the effort part. I shouldn’t have to come out and coach effort every single night. Effort is what you’re being paid, to bring effort every single night. Maybe it’s the chemistry right now,” Drew said. “I’m going to have to do something to kind of jump-start us again.

“Right now we’ve flatlined. Not just from a physical standpoint. Mentally we have flattened. I’ve got to find a way to resuscitate this team.”

… it’s officially time to start worrying that your 21-16 record will get flipped in the coming weeks.

This is certainly not the sort of mood the Hawks were hoping for in their welcome back game with Johnson and the Nets.

Much was made of his departure, via trade last summer, barely a week into the Danny Ferry era. Ferry was celebrated for getting rid of Johnson’s monstrous contract (as well of that of Marvin Williams in a separate deal with Utah) and freeing up the Hawks’ funds for what could potentially be a huge free agent summer of 2013.

For a while, it seemed that Drew and the frontcourt tandem of Josh Smith and All-Star Al Horford could do the unthinkable and lead the Hawks back to the top of the Eastern Conference standings without their All-Star workhorse. But that was before their current skid, where an assortment of injuries and other issues have combined to stall that effort.

Instead of plotting a course to move up the standings in the New (calendar) Year, the Hawks are struggling to stay afloat while the Bulls, Indiana Pacers, Nets and Boston Celtics are all getting back into a groove.

The Hawks looked like a borderline playoff team before the season began. Their strong early season start gave me pause and made me rethink that stance for a minute. But the first impression of this team turns out to be the lasting one.

Drew better administer CPR quickly, because the upcoming schedule doesn’t ease up. Back-to-back home and road games against the Nets are followed by home games against the San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves, a road game against Charlotte. A road game against the New York Knicks is sandwiched between home dates against the Celtics and Toronto Raptors to finish off the month.

If the Hawks don’t clean up the mess within those next eight games, the first month of the year might very well do them in!


  1. mumbler says:

    The hawks need a new coach not from the Larry Brown tree(Woodson, Drew). A coach who will play young players. After the playoff series against the Bulls a couple of years ago Teague should be the point guard, but he is not allowed to dominate the ball as the main distributor as he should. Trade josh for Rudy Gay

  2. wuffe says:

    Don’t be surprised if Danny Ferry makes a trade for picks and players. He probably sees this team needing some key pieces. A center, a small forward, a starting shooting guard. Denver Nuggets has Javal Magee C , Wilson Chandler S.F./S.G. and maybe a 1st round pick for Josh Smith. Javal Magee center, Horford PF, Wilson Chandler SF, Lou Williams SG, Teague PG. Yes, its blue collar, but I guarantee this group would score more than 56.

  3. jsmoovefan says:

    they should trade josh smith before his career ends without a ring…trade him for pau gasol…smith would be on a team with a friend (howard)…howard would have a reason to stay in l.a…..and the hawks would have another all-star bigman…along with horford…OR the hawks could trade horford for draft picks or young promising guards…idk…i just want Josh Smith on a winning team…before his career ends!!!…i dnt want another Dominique Wilkins incident… 😦 and PLEASE make him an ALL-STAR already!!!!!!!

  4. kclean says:

    For all you crazies supporting joe johnson i have 1 word….PLAYOFFS look at the ‘6 timeall stars’ playoff stat. he was noexistant. we never got past thr first round accept once then got killed by a terrible celtics team. iso joe made more money than lebron and dwade…..dont tell me he was worth it bc if you do you know nothing about basketball. it was a great move, look at how great johnson did with the nets, he got his coach fired because he does not and cannot play team ball. our coach switched the lineup way too much for us to build chemistry. our real problem is we have no SF but hopefull korver n stevenson can hold it dowm

  5. Madogg says:

    The hawks were never going to be a contender this year, they suprised all by being as good as they were at the start of the year. They can stilol be a 6 seed in the east in my opinion… but at the end of the day this is a team waiting for nex season and waiting to be a player in the free agent market.

  6. When Michael was playing for the Bulls the Hawks never had a lost like that, I really am ask my self is that coach good enough to coach the Hawks?
    If so, there is something wrong with it, I’ve been seeing the games and what I see sometime are some players really walking , should they be running? try to see that, and you may see as well. that is socks. I love the Hawks.

  7. NHbleedsGREEN says:

    Wow Joe Johnson is THAT good huh?
    I say if he was on that Hawks team
    they would of had 70 points and
    Joe would of shot 4/15 from the field.

  8. thomas bone says:

    Josh Smith for Granger and Lance Stephonson

    • swatguy says:

      Make that yesterday even with Danny injuried. Harris is obviously showcased for the trade deadline.

  9. BlameTheCoach says:

    Getting rid of Joe was probably the smartest move. Starting Teague/Harris over Williams is what is the problem. Teague is performing horribly this season. Atlanta seriously needs to consider starting Pachulia at the 5, Horford at the 4, Smith at the 3, Williams at the 2, and either Teague or Harris at the 1. Or look to Dallas to make some quick trades, because this is getting pathetic.

    • imlan says:

      I’m with you dude. Why starting Harris over Williams is mind boggling to me especially Williams has been playing really well since replacing Harris as a starter.

    • Carl says:

      Getting rid of the ONLY player that kept your team relevant in the East was a good idea?

    • yoblob says:

      Agreed Williams needs to start at SG

    • BlameTheCoach says:

      Except he’s not the ONLY player that made Atlanta relevant. His on-court / off-court production statistics show that Atlanta was better with him on the bench. Plus he’s a huge salary sponge for limited production. I’m not sure if you watched the collapse that always occurred first and second rounds of the playoffs or not, but JJ was certainly not helping the situation.

    • Toocrunk says:

      Dude, you speak the truth. I also don’t understand why Larry Drew doesn’t use Tolliver and Johnson more often.

  10. Logic says:

    20 points in the 1st half. That is something I have never seen.

  11. voice of reason says:

    Looks like they are missing some Iso Joe. Did you really expect to get better after getting rid of a six time All-Star that hit game winner after game winner, and replacing him with …..? Really ???

    Hey Shultz “Not missing Joe” ? …(go figure)

    • Lance says:

      First, Joe Johnson was never really there in the playoffs to take over and lead the hawks to a championsip. Second, the Nets are doing ok this season, but its going to take Deron Williams to lead the team. Thrid, I don’t think his contract was well deserved. The hawks have shooters on the team like Kyle Korver, Louis Williams, and Anthony Morrow to replace Joe and better ball distribution. Joe Johnson is great, but we don’t need him back.

      • SaYO says:

        not a hawks fan but i can agree with this..

      • Voice of Reason says:

        The Hawks got better every year with Joe. If Al had been healthy last year, they beat the Celtics and get to the Eastern finals. Two years ago they got to a 6th game in the 2nd round. Only 8 teams out of 30 get to the 2nd round. True they paid Joe too much, but their core group was still very young and they still had room for tweeks and growth.

        More than likely, Joe’s contract will expire before the Hawks compete for a championship. If they had kept Joe and Jamal, trade Josh for Gasol, maybe lose Marvin, they still could have picked up Lou W., and Jenkins. Not a bad team.

        Anyway I’m glad for Joe that he is with a better team. His contract over shadowed the good that he did for the Hawks.