Weeks of positive energy for the Hawks turned sour five minutes into Saturday's loss to the New Orleans Hornets. Sure, the seven-game winning streak is over. But they knew they weren't going to win them all. The real blow was point guard Mike Bibby going down with a sprained left ankle five minutes into the game.
Bibby came down on Darren Collison's foot and turned his ankle, the first significant injury to any of the Hawks' starters this season. He went to the locker room to have his ankle retaped so he could come back into the game, but it never happened.
"We don't the extent of the injury just yet," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "The way our schedule breaks, we'll have a few days to get guys ready to play against Orlando on Thanksgiving. That's really all we can do."
Bibby's absence highlighted not only the importance of having Jamal Crawford on the roster but also the need for Woodson to find more playing time for rookie point guard Jeff Teague.
"We're going to need everybody to pitch in whenever they can," Crawford said. "It might take a little bit longer than was initially planned, but we'll get it done."
HORNETS 96, HAWKS 88: In the Hornets, the Hawks found an opponent more than willing to challenge their status as the league's top team.
And challenge them they did. The Hawks struggled to locate their energy one night after they went to the wire against a similarly scrappy Houston team at home.
But losing point guard Mike Bobby was easily the biggest blow of the night. Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson split the majority of the minutes at the point for the remainder of the game. It didn't matter. The Hornets shot lights out from deep and never did allow anyone to replace Bibby's mastery of Mike Woodson's offense.
His absence was noticeable. The Hawks never did find an offensive flow without their veteran floor leader.
"Bibby's our quarterback," said Hawks forward Marvin Williams, who scored 17 points. "It's tough when your general goes down like that."
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