Zaza Pachulia has been here before, pressed into service on a moment's notice. He's delivered, too.And now that the Hawks' starting center Al Horford is out indefinitely with a bone bruise in his right knee, the Hawks will need Pachulia more than ever.
And they'll need him, as a starter, for a while. Horford will miss the Hawks' three-game Western Conference road trip this week and possibly much more.
"We're looking at anywhere from five to 10 days," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "So it puts some extra pressure on Zaza, Solomon and Randolph (Morris). And we're probably going to have to look at playing a little more small-ball with Josh Smith playing some at center."
Horford was injured in the second half of Friday's loss at Orlando. A scheduled MRI after Saturday's practice revealed the bone bruise. In 33 starts this season, Horford averaged 10.8 points, a team-high 8.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.6 blocks.
But no one picked up that slack Sunday. The Hawks were smashed inside, outscored 56-36 in the paint and out-rebounded 39-24, while Pachulia and Jones combined for seven points and six rebounds in a 109-94 loss to Philadelphia at Philips Arena.
"We've got to get back to playing the way we were earlier in the season," said Pachulia, who missed back-to-back games against Orlando earlier in the week with the flu. "And Solomon and I have to really get it going."
Again, they'll have to do more than they did Sunday.
"No, not at all," Woodson said when asked if anyone rose to the challenge against the 76ers. "And I don't know how long Al's going to be out so I can't put it on Al Horford. But when (Josh Smith) was out for (12 games earlier this season) we had guys step up and that's how it's going to have to be now that Al is out."
76ERS 109, HAWKS 94: The Hawks need an intervention, and quickly if they intend to stop this current slide they are on.
They dropped their third straight game Sunday, losing 109-94 in a lifeless effort against Philadelphia at Philips Arena.
"I don't think we're playing together on either end of the floor," Hawks captain and All-Star Joe Johnson said while staring into his locker. "We're just not helping one another. We're not playing with any energy, and really, you have to put it on the starting five because we're not doing (anything) at the start of these games."
They were down by double digits in the first quarter of back-to-back losses to Orlando, and down by 50 at one point in the second half of Friday's loss to the Magic.
The 76ers opened Sunday's game on a 10-point tear and led by as many as 11 early while cruising down the stretch as the Hawks struggled to make a move regardless of the five players they had on the floor.
"We're in a rut right now," said Hawks coach Mike Woodson, who played Sunday, and will have to play for the foreseeable future, without starting center Al Horford, who is out indefinitely with a bone bruise in his right knee.
"Guys are kind of looking over their shoulder a little bit," Woodson continued, "and the only way we're going to get out of it is to work our way out of it. That's through practice and trying to get some confidence back in these guys and get them back playing.
"Orlando took some starch out of us, that last game. We're not competing defensively like we have been. And that's on me, I have to get them back playing defense because that's the only way we're going to have a chance to win."