It’s not yet December but the Hawks held a players-only meeting in an effort to right a wayward offense.
It worked exactly for one quarter of basketball. And then 24 hours later, they had to face the toast of the NBA West.
The team conducted a meeting before the Hawks’ latest loss, a 109-94 defeat to the Lakers on Sunday in Los Angeles. The Hawks had lost two straight, both in convincing fashion, and five of their last six games. A dreadful loss to the Jazz in which the Hawks scored just 68 points prompted the meeting.
All this came before the team had to face the Warriors, 15-2 and winners of 11 straight, late Monday night.
Against the Lakers on Sunday, the Hawks assisted on 11 of 13 field goals in the opening quarter in building a 13-point lead. But they finished with 14 more assists and 26 more field goals. After a 32-point first quarter, they closed out with 16, 29 and 17 points respectively in each of the final three quarters.
Several players declined to offer specifics about the meeting. However, one player said the conversation was not heated.
“It was just reassuring everybody that we’ve got each other’s back,” the player said. “Nobody is pointing fingers at each other. It’s just a matter of us figuring it out together.”
When they were off on a 9-2 start to the season, the Hawks’ offense averaged more than 107 points per game. Those days are long gone. Now 10-7, the Hawks had failed to score more than 96 points in any of the past six games going into Monday’s game. The trend has the members of the team frustrated.
“Very much so,” said Paul Millsap when asked about the rising concern of coaches and players. “We’ve got to keep fighting. We’ve got to try to figure it out. It’s early, but it’s definitely frustrating.”
The Hawks are nearly finished with a stretch where they will have played seven of eight games on the road. The stretch ends with the current five-game road trip following games with the Warriors and at the Suns on Wednesday.
The Hawks had the NBA’s second-ranked offense early in the season. They have fallen to 21st.
“There have been a lot of conversations the last couple days,” Kyle Korver said. “We know we are not playing as well as we are capable of. We are trying to figure it out. It’s a long season and there is a lot of time but these losses are starting to pile up on us.”
The Hawks point out that the current roster has 10 players returning from last season. The core of the unit has been in coach Mike Budenholzer’s system for several seasons. It makes the fact that the offense still gets bogged down troublesome.
The Hawks are learning to play with a new center in Dwight Howard and a new starting point guard in Dennis Schroder, which is apparently going to take some time.
“It’s not going to happen overnight but we showed a glimpse of us being able to do it,” Kent Bazemore said. “We have the group. The really good teams in the league can do it for 48 minutes every night. That’s the task for us right now, figuring out how to do it on a nightly basis. It’s early.”