Win or lose these days, the Hawks' problems at the free-throw line remain.They don't make enough of them often enough to give themselves any advantage by attempting free shots.
"We've coughed up at least four or five games this season because we can't seem to get the job done at the free throw line," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "It's been our Achilles' heel, I guess.
"At the same time, I don't want to linger on stuff like that. And I don't want players overthinking it. But it's cost us four or five games. That's just the reality."
The Hawks are the league's second-worst free throw shooting (.739) team. Only Orlando is worse. A year ago they shot .772 from the free throw line, a mark that would rank them among the top 12 teams in the league this season.
"We have to have the mindset that we're going to make them at all times, not just when the game is on the line," said Marvin Williams, who lived up to that statement by sinking 18 of his 20 free throws to help the Hawks to a win in Charlotte Friday night.
No Hawks player has struggled the way Josh Smith has this season. He's shooting just .597 from the free throw line on the season and has made just 13 of his 32 attempts (.406) since Jan. 23.
"I call myself a free throw practice shooter," Smith said acknowledging that his troubles are more psychological than they are physical. "I make them in practice but then it kind of turns into a mental thing in the game and I don't give myself a chance to make free throws.
"I was a confident free-throw shooter last year and the years before that, so it's hard to explain. I think we all have to get back to having confidence in ourselves and step up and make those shots. I know for me it's a matter of concentration. It's that simple."
If only it were.
HAWKS 102, BOBCATS 97: Who says the Hawks can't win without Joe Johnson? They've done so twice now in just three days.
And thanks to a yeoman's effort from Marvin Williams, they were able to do it in style Friday night, rallying from a 17-point first-half deficit to beat back the Charlotte Bobcats late, 102-97 at Time Warner Cable Arena Friday night.
Williams scored a career-high 29 points and was the man on the spot down the stretch as the Hawks rallied for the win. Williams was just 5-for-15 from the floor but sank 18 of his 20 free throws to help the Hawks battle back for the win.
Williams' 40-minute night cost him late as he cramped up and spent his time after the game in the training room getting pumped full of fluids before the flight home.
"It's like I said before we left Atlanta," Hawks center Al Horford said. "We needed different guys to step up with Joe out. And Mo Evans came out and shot the ball great. Josh Smith stepped up late and made defensive plays. And Marvin was just huge. He really took over the game in the second half and made plays."
The Hawks won their second straight road game without Johnson, their captain and All-Star, who was back in Atlanta trying to recover from a viral infection that cost him an entire week of work.
Wednesday night the Hawks survived a late rally from the home team to upend the Minnesota Timberwolves 94-86 at Target Center.
"We can do this every night," Smith said. "We're capable of doing this every night."