The Atlanta Hawks watched another game slip away in familiar fashion Saturday night with a 107-99 loss to the Charlotte Hornets. Atlanta has won just four of their last 16 games since their 9-2 start and once again sink below the .500 mark of the season.
“It’s frustrating. We’re all competitive,” Mike Budenholzer told reporters after the game. “We want to win. I’d say frustrated. Our guys are competing, guys are trying to make plays.”
“We had chances. They obviously had a great second quarter. We didn’t play well. We were kind of playing from behind. We were able to take a lead. Down the stretch, a couple of plays, a couple of shots, they were able to make and finish.”
Atlanta deserves credit for fighting back after falling behind by 16 in the third quarter. Especially given the difficulty they had getting out of Toronto on Friday night. Still it painful to watch a game slip away in familiar fashion.
Dwight Howard turned in another big performance with 10 points and 23 rebounds but was yet again involved in a momentum changing play against Charlotte.
Two free throws from Tim Hardaway Jr gave the Hawks a one point lead at 87-86 with 7:41 remaining in the fourth quarter but Howard was whistled for a technical foul after getting tangled with Charlotte’s Cody Zeller. That led to a lengthy review and officials eventually ruled it a double technical foul on both players. However, the delay seemed to kill Atlanta’s momentum and the Hornets answered with five straight points to put the Hawks back on their heels once again.
This was the second such instance for Howard and Zeller this season. Howard was ejected in the fourth quarter after delivering an elbow to Zeller’s head back on November 18. That game coincidentally was the beginning of Atlanta’s 4-12 stretch.
Still the Hawks fought back yet again. Paul Millsap put the team back in front 95-94 with 3:54 remaining but the Hornets answered yet again when Marco Bellinari buried a three-pointer after a pair of offensive rebounds.
They had some guys make shots, especially Belinelli,” said Kyle Korver who finished with seven points in 19 minutes off the bench. “He hit some tough shots. We tried to bunch up the coverages there in the second half and tried to find something that was working. They got away from us a couple of times and made us pay.”
Atlanta was able to cut the lead back to two at 99-97 with 1:32 remaining but Marvin Williams iced it against his old team with a three-pointer with just 27 seconds left to put Charlotte back up five.
“They’re a tough team. We know their defense is pretty good,” Paul Millsap added. “They hit some tough shots. Belinelli got hot. Marvin Williams hit some shots. The whole game plan was to try to contain Kemba. Those other guys got free. Give them credit. They ran their offense and they hit some tough shots.”
As disappointing as another loss is for the Hawks, there were some positives to take away from this game. Despite the lapses, the defense was better for stretches and Kent Bazemore turned in his best performance in some time with 17 points and five assists off the bench.
Still ultimately it is another loss and the Hawks are left once again searching for answers.