The Hawks might want to set their alarm clock 15 minutes early for Wednesday night's game against the Los Angeles Clipper at Staples Center.Maybe that'll keep them from another one of these awful first-quarter starts that have led to their current four-game losing streak.
Even a struggling team like the Clippers, losers of 11 straight, will know how to take advantage if the Hawks decide to show up 15 or 20 minutes after the opening tip, the way they did Tuesday night in a loss to the Suns.
"We've been starting games like that," Hawks forward Marvin Williams said. "We've just been coming out with no energy and digging ourselves big holes early and then we have to fight our way back the rest of the game. We've got to come more prepared.
"The coaches did a good job putting together a game plan for us and it's our job to come out and execute the game plan."
That's fine. But it doesn't answer the main question surrounding the Hawks' pitiful starts.
Why do they keep coming out so flat?
"We haven't been playing well, anybody can see that," Hawks captain and All-Star Joe Johnson said. "But it's not the end. It's a long season. And now have to go out on the road and get it back. Because this isn't just a spell we're going through right now. It's about a lack of focus on our part.
"It's just about playing with more energy, more heart and more determination. We've been going out there lately playing lackadaisical, like we can win games because we think we're good. When you don't respect teams and players in this league you can go out there and get your tail kicked like we have lately."
SUNS 107, HAWKS 102: Nothing changed for the Hawks or Shaquille O'Neal Tuesday night.
The Hawks lost again, their season-high tying fourth straight, and O'Neal dominated again.
O'Neal led the Suns with 26 points and 10 rebounds in their 107-102 win over the Hawks, who fell to 22-15 and are slowly creeping their way back to the dangerous .500 realm.
If not for a 5-for-24 shooting start, the Hawks might have actually had a chance to come back and hold on for the win. But after digging a 19-point hole early, it was hard to imagine them actually finishing the deal against a Suns team that's rising up the standings as O'Neal's star continues to shine.
"That's been our trend the last four games, starting slow, and we haven't won any of them," Hawks forward Josh Smith said. "The starting unit has to get off to a better start because our bench is coming in and doing a good job for us, really coming in and giving us big energy. As starters, we have to put it on our shoulders that we're not going to dig ourselves a big hole."
The Hawks got everything they needed from everyone but their best player, Joe Johnson, who struggled through an awful 4-for-21 shooting night, finishing with just 11 points against his former team.
Smith led the Hawks with 24 points and 10 rebounds, his fifth double-double of the season. Mike Bibby added 17 points. Marvin Williams snagged his third double-double of the season with 16 points and a team-high 12 rebounds, while Flip Murray tossed in 14 off the bench.
Even Zaza Pachulia, filling for the injured Al Horford, managed 10 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out late after wrestling all night with O'Neal.