Ten days ago, it was the new year, and everyone was looking to leave 2020 in the rearview — but not the Hawks. The Hawks beat the high-powered Nets on New Year’s Day, which sparked a conversation about Atlanta being the real deal. With the next four games against 2020 bottom-three Eastern Conference teams, the Hawks had a fantastic chance to start with seven wins in their first nine games.
After back-to-back losses to the Charlotte Hornets, the Hawks have now lost each of those four games. Not to mention the possible on-going feud about the offensive struggles between John Collins and Trae Young, clearly spilling on to the court. I will say that last night’s loss wasn’t due to the lack of energy but one of the poorest shooting performances I have seen in a long time; more specifically, the open looks that normally fall — were not.
Bogdan Bogdanovic got the start for Cam Reddish, which was exciting with Cam’s recent shooting struggles. Bogdan would eventually leave the game in the first half after a knee injury, and Cam was the team’s leading scorer — ironic. So, the Hawks resorted to an eight-man rotation with injuries to Danilo Gallinari, Rajon Rondo, Kris Dunn, Tony Snell, and Onyeka Okongwu. Even with the injuries, the tale of the tape was still the shooting woes. Glen Willis of Peachtree Hoops had this quote from Lloyd Pierce.
“You know, we had two or three shots to cut into the lead, they were up 79-76, and we had a couple of good looks, Brandon (Goodwin) I think and Solo (Hill),” Pierce continued. “And to me that (next) possession summed up the rest of the game. We couldn’t make the open shots and they hit a couple of big ones. All of a sudden you think you could tie the ballgame up to swing the momentum and as they were hitting their shots it went up to about 15 (point lead) after that.”
What was different about this loss than the previous three was the offense working and getting open shots. But again, the Hawks just couldn’t hit them. “I feel like they were just hitting shots,” De’Andre Hunter said after the game. “I feel like we were playing solid defense for the most part. They hit some tough shots at the end of the shot clock. We weren’t really hitting on our shots.”
The Hornets made one more three-pointer (15) than the Hawks but did so on 13 fewer attempts. Atlanta shot 37.4% from the field and 30.4% from beyond the arc. A majority of the shots were good looks, too; I couldn’t count the number of wide-open shots that didn’t fall. Not to mention LaMelo Ball came off the bench and recorded a triple-double, the youngest player ever to do so.
I will say at least the team looked to move the ball instead of a more isolated offense. The Hawks just couldn’t hit their open shots, and with Bogdanovic expected to miss some time, it could get worse. Atlanta still has many players yet to play major minutes; getting them back will ease the shooting and defensive woes.