Once again the warning signs are starting to surface.After three straight impressive wins, the Hawks have lost their last two games. And Joe Johnson started noticing the warning signs during the Hawks' 95-79 loss to Miami.
"We're not playing together on either end of the court," Johnson said after a game in which the Hawks set a franchise record for the fewest points scored in the first half with 27. They trailed by 21 by then in a game that was all but over save for the final score. "We just weren't playing hard, and that's pretty much how it's been a lot of games that we've been down. We're not playing hard and we make it tough on ourselves.
"And I think everybody really has to check themselves. We're not making the extra pass on offense and we're turning the ball over and, honestly, it's very frustrating at this point in the season to see us spinning our wheels like this after all that we've done."
The Hawks remain in the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference with their 26-18 record. But the Heat and idle Detroit Pistons, both 24-19, are right behind.
The Hawks' bipolar routine -- they won three straight before Sunday's home loss to Phoenix and Monday's loss gave them yet another multiple-game losing streak -- doesn't help the cause.
"We really have to go back and look at the game we won and copy that blueprint every night," said Hawks forward Josh Smith, who finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds. "We're doing this to ourselves, and it just doesn't make any sense. I wish I could explain why we're not playing the right way to start these games, because I'd fix it if I knew."
HEAT 95, HAWKS 79: A six-minute scoring drought is one thing. But a 13-minute scoring famine is something altogether different.
The Hawks experienced both within a 24-hour span, the first coming in the fourth quarter of Sunday's home loss to Phoenix.
Monday's disappearing act during the first half of a 95-79 loss to the Miami Heat overshadowed the Hawks reaching a dubious historical mark.
Their 27 points by halftime set a franchise low for first-half points in a game the Hawks couldn't afford to lose with the Heat, their Southeast Division rival, gaining on them in the standings.
The Hawks fell to 26-18 with the loss while the Heat improved to 24-19 and a tie with Detroit for the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference standings behind the fourth-place Hawks.
While the Hawks were drowning in a sea of missed shots early (they were 8-for-26) and mistakes (15 turnovers that the Heat turned into 16 points), the Heat methodically turned a 17-14 lead at the end of the first quarter into a 21-point rout by halftime.
And they did it with their superstar Dwyane Wade playing just 11 minutes and 44 seconds in the first half -- he did, however, score 16 points on 8-for-10 shooting during that limited time. Wade finished with a game-high 35 points in 35 minutes.
Wade was the one that finished the Hawks off in the second half, when they crawled all the way back to within seven points, twice, in the fourth quarter, only to see the Heat stretch the lead back to as many as 18 points.