Who knew it would be this hard, hanging onto the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff chase?The Hawks had no idea.
It means no letdown games like the one they had against the Knicks Wednesday night. And certainly not another one like it Friday night in Charlotte, where the Hawks play next.
Clinging to the fourth spot themselves right now with their 34-27 record, the Hawks can't afford another slip-up like the Knicks' game, even on the road, and especially not against sub-.500 ball club.
"This is a tough time," Marvin Williams said. "We don't want to be in the fourth spot now and then be in the fifth spot or the sixth spot a few weeks down the road, knowing that if we had taken care of business in a game like this we'd be right where we want to be.
"Every game from here on out counts for us and we have to play with that same sense of urgency we had early in the season."
That sense of urgency didn't make the trip north with the Hawks after Monday's win in Washington. But they better find it in time for Friday's game against a rugged Bobcats team that always seem to frustrate the Hawks.
"You can only play with fire so many times before you get burned," said Hawks swingman Mo Evans. "We're on the roller coaster ride just like everybody else. And it's hard to deal with from the inside. The bottom line is things have to change. We've got to put an end to the mess and get back to playing solid basketball every night."
KNICKS 109, HAWKS 105: The math seems pretty simple for the Hawks. When the Hawks hold teams to 100 points or less they're 28-8. And when they don't, the record tumbles 6-19. So it shouldn't have surprised anyone that the Hawks got popped 109-105 by the New York Knicks Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Hawks coach Mike Woodson knew it early in the fourth quarter, when his team's body language changed dramatically as the New York Knicks kept pouring it on.
He might have known it earlier than that. But when his team's early nine-point lead turned into a 16-point deficit early in the final quarter, he realized what was at hand.
"There's no excuse," Woodson said. "We went up nine and were playing extremely well and we just got (too) comfortable. We let them get going and this (Knicks) team is a shot-making team that scores a lot of points here in the Garden. Once they got going we couldn't stop them."
The Knicks are lurking outside of the playoff chase right now, much like the Hawks were this time a year ago before securing the final spot in the last week of the season. So the Hawks should have known what they were dealing with in Mike D'Antoni's team. But they had no idea.
"We got into their kind of game and tried to outshoot them and hoist up three-pointers," Woodson said. "We really played out of character. After having a great game in Washington and then coming here and playing like this is really disappointing."