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News » Atlanta Hawks Getting Inside 2009-04-05

Atlanta Hawks Getting Inside 2009-04-05

Atlanta Hawks Getting Inside 2009-04-05
The sense of security is gone.

If the Hawks aren't careful, the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff chase and the home-court advantage that comes with it won't be far behind.

Three consecutive losses, each of them to teams bound for the Eastern Conference playoffs, like the Hawks, has a way of washing away any sense of entitlement.

And the Hawks (43-34) are just two games ahead of Philadelphia for the fourth spot with five games to play.

"We're treading on thin ice right now," Hawks center Al Horford said. "The only good thing is that when we've faced this kind of adversity this season, we've always found a way to rise up and face it together."

That'll be easier said than done with three of the five remaining games on the road. The first two come this week at red-hot Toronto on Tuesday night and at Milwaukee on Wednesday.

"It wouldn't matter to me where we're playing," Hawks forward Josh Smith said. "We've got to get it together, man. And we've got to do it as a group. There isn't one or two guys that can fix this. We've all got to find a way to pull each other up and dust each other off and get this thing right."

A team that backed into the playoffs last year and earned the No. 8 spot hasn't exactly wowed its critics with this recent swoon.

Shaky performances in losses to Philadelphia, Boston and Orlando in the last week have highlighted two of the Hawks' fatal flaws -- they lack a ball-stopper in the backcourt to slow down opposing penetrators, and they lack inside depth, allowing opposing teams to work them over around the basket without any retribution.

Coach Mike Woodson, however, remains optimistic that his team will pull through the current slump.

"You can have the fourth spot, but you have to go out and earn it," he said. "We've held it for months now, and we're still in the driver's seat, but we have to handle our business. We have to take care of it ourselves."

MAGIC 88, HAWKS 82: That stranglehold the Hawks have had on the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference standings for the past couple of months is suddenly a tenuous hold, at best.

Southeast Division rival Orlando handed them their latest loss, a gut-punch before a sellout crowd of 19,608 at Philips Arena on Saturday night.

It was the Hawks' third consecutive loss and third straight to an Eastern Conference team bound for the playoffs, another bad sign for a team just a couple weeks away from the postseason.

The first two came on the road, in Philadelphia on Tuesday and Boston on Friday, and the Hawks have been atrocious away from Atlanta all season.

But Saturday's meltdown occurred at home, where, for the most part, the Hawks had been immune to bouts of futility.

After controlling the action for much of the night and leading by as many as 10 points in the third quarter, the Hawks shot themselves right out of the game.

They went from leading by 10 points with 5:45 to play in the third quarter to down by 11 with just over nine minutes to play in the fourth. They had a 14-minute stretch where they were outscored by 23 points as the Magic, led by All-Star center and former Southwest Atlanta Christian star Dwight Howard, wrestled away control of the game.

Howard led the Magic in points (21), rebounds (22), assists (five) and blocks (four).

That second-half scoring drought, though, is what did in the Hawks on this night. They managed just 38 points after halftime, wasting double-double efforts from Josh Smith (19 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two blocks) and Al Horford (13 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks).

Hawks captain and All-Star Joe Johnson led the way with 21 points but shot just 6-for-21 from the floor. Mike Bibby and Flip Murray added 12 points each.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: April 5, 2009


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