New York --- The Hawks' current struggles travel as well or better than any frequent flier. They haven't won anywhere the past five days.
Not Atlanta, Miami or New York.
Wednesday night's 112-104 loss to the sub-.500 New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden was the Hawks' third straight failed attempt at recapturing the magic that led them to a top-four spot in the Eastern Conference standings by New Year's Day.
They could be out of that spot by the weekend, with both Detroit and Miami clawing at their heels for that coveted space as the playoff chase heats up heading into next month's All-Star break.
The Hawks (26-19) are clinging to a half-game lead for the No. 4 playoff slot. But their issues are bigger than that right now, having lost eight of their past 12 games.
"We're going to keep getting our [expletives] kicked if we play like this," Joe Johnson said. "We're playing [terribly]."
Not even an eight-point halftime cushion was enough room for the Hawks to work with Wednesday night.
They promptly turned that advantage over to the Knicks before the end of the third quarter, they went from leading 55-47 at the break to trailing 82-74 to start the fourth quarter.
The Knicks stretched that lead to as many as 13 before this one was over, schooling the Hawks' down the stretch with back-door plays and outhustling them for offensive rebounds and put backs to seal the deal. Knicks backup guard Nate Robinson torched the Hawks for 20 points in the fourth quarter alone to help the Knicks (20-25) put this one away.
But the Hawks did just as much to hurt themselves as the Knicks did.
They made just 17 of 32 free throws Wednesday, including Josh Smith's 2-for-10 effort And Smith actually played well otherwise, finishing with 26 points, a team-high 12 rebounds and two blocks.
Marvin Williams led the Hawks with 28 points and also grabbed seven rebounds.
"In the first half everything was clicking," Smith said. "We were having fun and everything was positive. And then everything changed in the second half. It doesn't even matter about the free throws. If we played the same way in the second half that we did in the first it wouldn't even have been a game.
"But instead we were giving up straight-line drives to our basket, they get 35 points in the third and 30 more in the fourth. It's like they just took the game away from us."
And without much fight from either Johnson or starting point guard Mike Bibby, a duo that's led the Hawks all season up until this three-game skid.
They average better than 37 points combined, but they couldn't find the mark against the Knicks. They combined for just 20 points, shooting 7-for-28 from the floor in the process.
"If I do anything at all we win," said Bibby, who was 2-for-13 from the floor and finished with five points and seven assists. "They outscored us by 16, and that's my average. Give them credit, they picked it up, but we weren't scoring in the second half and they were scoring easy. That's the game right there."
With the bulk of their offense running through their veteran backcourt, a power outage like the one they experienced against the Knicks makes it almost impossible to survive.
"It's tough when those two guys aren't making shots," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "And they're struggling a little bit right now.
"But we have to stay positive and keep pushing them and try to get them through. And the only way you do that is to practice and to put in a little extra time shooting the Basketball."
NEXT FOR Hawks
* Who: vs. Nets
* When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
* TV; radio: SPSO; 790 AM