Things went from bad to worse for the Hawks late Thursday night.They were already in the midst of being knocked silly by the Cleveland Cavaliers for a second straight game.
And that's when Hawks' captain and All-Star Joe Johnson turned his right ankle on a lay-up attempt with 3:32 to play in the third quarter.
Johnson limped to the bench with a severe ankle sprain and the Hawks trailing by 32 points, both of them done for the night long before the final buzzer.
While the Hawks' reserves were on the court finishing up -- the Cavaliers' biggest lead was 36 points -- Johnson was in a wheelchair being pushed by one of the team's doctors.
They were leaving the Cavaliers' locker room, where Johnson's right ankle was being X-rayed.
The results were negative. And Johnson was upbeat on his way out of the building, leaving in a walking boot and with his team in an 0-2 hole in a best-of-seven series against the best team in the league.
"I've got a boot on but (I'm not) walking out of here on crutches," Johnson said. "I can't see me not playing in Game 3 (Saturday at Philips Arena). I'm looking forward to getting back out there with guys. And we've got 48 hours to get some treatment and try and get better, and we'll see what happens."
Johnson isn't the Hawks' only injured starter. Al Horford (ankle) and Marvin Williams (wrist) both sat out Game 2.
With the series shifting to Atlanta for Games 3 and 4, Saturday and Monday respectively, the major question is whether or not the Hawks will be able to field enough healthy bodies to compete.
"We were in the same situation last year with the blowouts in Boston," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "And we were able to go home and make a series out of it. Sure, we're a little banged-up right now. But we have a couple of days to try to regroup physically and get ready for Saturday's game. But we do have to go back and nurse some injuries and see if we can get some guys ready to go on Saturday."
CAVALIERS 105, HAWKS 85: The white flag went up early for the Hawks this time.
They didn't wait until the second half to surrender to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
It took 31 minutes in Game 1 for the Cavaliers to establish their dominance over their visitors.
But with the Hawks ailing and LeBron James at his MVP best early and often, the 105-85 score Game 2 of this Eastern Conference semifinal was never in doubt.
James knocked down a step-back 40-footer over Mario West at the halftime buzzer, stirring up a sellout Quicken Loans Arena crowd of 20,562 as the Cavaliers pushed their early lead to 24 points and eventually 36 before finishing off the Hawks.
"They ate us up inside and out," Hawks forward Josh Smith said after his foul-plagued night. "When a team is beating you like that, from all over the floor, it's tough to get a lick in."
It was another dazzling showing from James and the Cavaliers, who have yet to be challenged for an entire game in six playoff appearances -- they swept Detroit in the first round.
Guards Mo Williams and Delonte West, before he took a Zaza Pachulia elbow to the face in the third quarter and did not return, worked the Hawks' on the perimeter, shooting over the Hawks' guards and anyone else that got in their way.
James assaulted the Hawks in transition, in the half court, at the rim and from beyond the three-point line.
He finished with a game-high 27 points on 9-for-14 shooting from the floor. He also had five assists, four steals and three rebounds, igniting the crowd and his team with his every move.
"It's not just LeBron," Smith said. "Any time you let a team shoot 60 percent on you throughout an entire game, you're just not giving yourself a chance to win."