Jeff Schultz

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Hawks emerge from All-Star break a sloppy and miserable mess


The Hawks emerged from the All-Star break Friday night, looking for a sign that the hiccups over the first four months of their season was some sort of aberration.

Instead, they got confirmation. And borderline humiliation.

They lost at home to the Miami Heat 115-111 Friday night. A close loss to Miami might not seem like such an embarrassment, given the Heat (30-24, .556) is now two percentage points better than the fifth-place Hawks (31-25, .554) in the Eastern Conference standings. But it was an inexcusable performance and result considering the Heat was missing their top three scorers: Dwyane Wade (injured), Chris Bosh (injured) and center Hassan Whiteside (suspended).

Luol Deng scored a season-high 30 points. Josh McRoberts went for 19. That's a felony in 37 starts.

The Hawks allowed the Miami remnants (the team dressed nine players) to shoot 50 percent, while committing 21 turnovers.

So. Looking forward to the playoffs?

When asked whether the All-Star break rust could have contributed to the sloppiness, coach Mike Budenholzer said, "They (Miami) are coming off the same break. They should have the same rust."

And this from Kyle Korver: "We want to do the right thing. But we’ve got to have more fire in us on a nightly basis."

When a team is 56 games into the season and is still searching for reasons why it doesn't play with "fire" on a nightly basis, that's a problem.

I have some theories about this which I'll explore in a full column on MyAJC.com Saturday (Sunday print).

Do I believe one game after the All-Star break confirms the Hawks are doomed? No. But it's potentially ugly foreshadowing. A performance like this should elevate the level of concern, regardless of how many times Budenholzer and players want to reference the team's character.

The Hawks chose not to make a major move at the trade deadline that would involve one of their core players. I wrote, and believe that was the correct decision . But by doing so, coach and Budenholzer is showing enormous confidence in his roster. What happened Friday night didn't make him look good.

FOR A FULL COLUMN on the Hawks, go to this link on MyAJC.com

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About the Author

Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.