You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

Hawks look like they’re near the end

(UPDATED: 11:20 p.m.)

In Game 1, they led five and a half minutes into the game (13-12) — and then never again.

In Game 2, they led six and a half minutes into the game (15-13) — and then never again.

Unfortunately, at that rate of progress, it would take two months for the Hawks to win a playoff game, and they don’t have quite that long.

All that this team’s players, coach Larry Drew and general manager Danny Ferry talked about before their series against Indiana was wanting to play hard and be competitive, and they wanted to see where that would take them. But this hasn’t been close. After losing the series opener by 17 points, the Hawks looked even more outmatched by the Pacers on Wednesday night, though losing only 113-98 (albeit, only 15 this time).

Indiana leads the best-of-seven series 2-0. Neither team has done anything to lead you to believe this thing won’t end in Atlanta in a four-game sweep.

The Pacers looked that much better again Wednesday. The Hawks looked like a team lacking flow and confidence and at times even seemed to be coming apart at the seams.

Horford acknowledges the lack-of-flow part, but attributes that to officiating, while not necessarily blaming referees for the two losses (kinda, sorta). He said his team “really got caught up with the refs. They got in our heads.

“You can’t get into a flow of a game [with fouls]. In game one, it was me. I thought [Lance] Stephenson flopped on my second foul. In the second quarter I got a technical foul. And tonight Josh got three fouls in the first half. We haven’t dealt with it well.”

More on the Horford’s technical in a moment.

First, actual basketball: The Hawks haven’t even shot free throws well (18 for 34, 53 percent). When Indiana’s Paul George made a 3-pointer to open the second half and give the Pacers a 62-50 lead, the deficit never was less than 10 points again. It also ballooned to as high as 24 points.

So much for giving rest to the players down the stretch. So much for this undersized collection of spare parts and expiring contracts coming together in the playoffs as they did so often during the regular season.

So much for really not believing there was a big difference between Indiana and Brooklyn as potential first-round opponents — and on second thought, scratch that. Nothing that we’ve witnessed in these past two games suggests the Hawks would have given anybody in the postseason a test.

Will playing two home games really make a difference?

Drew didn’t change his starting lineup from the series opener, saying, “We’re not going to panic.” Now would seem like a good time. The games generally have been one-sided enough that the Hawks can’t even use officiating as an excuse, not that there haven’t been some strange calls.

Official Ken Mauer hit Al Horford with a technical foul in the second quarter. What made that decision strange was that Horford had just drawn a foul by Indiana’s Jeff Pendergraph and all he seemed to be doing was celebrating with, albeit, an emotional outburst and arms flailing (though he was trying to shake loose from Pendergraph).

Horford, who doesn’t often show anger on the court, was so upset that he went after Mauer and had to be held back by teammate Devin Harris.

“I was celebrating, trying to get my team fired up, and I got a technical for that,” Horford said.

When asked if he sought an explanation from officials, he said, “I didn’t even ask the guy. I’m done even trying to talk to any of the referees. It’s a game you try to play with emotion, but [they think] you can’t show emotion. All I’m trying to do is get my team fired up, we’re on the road and it backfires on us. I’ve never seen that call before.”

There also was an amusing non-call (well, not amusing to the Hawks), when George double-dribbled (as in, with both hands), just before driving for a layup to make it 77-65. The Hawks’ bench went nuts.

Josh Smith cracked of the double-dribble, “That was like when I watch my son play. And he’s four.”

A few calls won’t decide this series. But any hope Drew had of his players being focused on the game and not officiating pretty much imploded. (Ivan Johnson also drew a technical in the third quarter for yelling at an official as he was walking off the court.)

“It kills us,” Drew said earlier Wednesday when asked about his players’ reacting to perceived bad calls. “… We can’t let that totally take us out of our game.”

Those few times when the team made runs in Game 2, the Pacers responded. Consider the final minute and a half of the third quarter. Consecutive buckets by Horford, Harris and Mike Scott had cut a 16-point lead to 10, but immediately following Scott’s jumper, Gerald Green blew past John Jenkins, caught a long inbounds pass and finished with a layup just before the horn.

History is not on the Hawks’ side. They’re 0-17 when trailing a playoff series 2-0. They were 1-24 just when trailing a series 1-0.

Officiating aside, history isn’t with them. Neither, it would seem, is logic.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

Hardaway Jr. a restricted free agent as Hawks extend qualifying offer
Hardaway Jr. a restricted free agent as Hawks extend qualifying offer

The Hawks extended a qualifying offer to Tim Hardaway Jr. on Monday officially making the shooting guard a restricted free agent. The move was expected and gives the Hawks flexibility regarding Hardaway’s contract. Hardaway would have been an unrestricted free agent had the Hawks not made the qualifying offer. Now, the Hawks have the right of...
Pitch command no issue for Braves prospect Newcomb so far
Pitch command no issue for Braves prospect Newcomb so far

Braves lefty pitching prospect Sean Newcomb walked too many batters in Triple-A. seems logical he will walk even more in the big leagues. Major league hitters may not know his tendencies but that’s more than offset by their superior talent and plate discipline. But it hasn’t worked out that way so far for Newcomb, who is walking a substantially...
Dwight Howard to Charlotte: ‘I got a lot left in the tank’
Dwight Howard to Charlotte: ‘I got a lot left in the tank’

CHARLOTTE – For the second time in less than a year, Dwight Howard was staging one of those buoyant, welcome-to-town press conferences Monday. This being his fifth team in seven years, and his third in three, Howard was nothing if not polished. The Cirque du Dwight comes with a very experienced ringmaster. In 2016, his welcome was quite the production...
Hawks got desired combo-guard skills in selecting Dorsey
Hawks got desired combo-guard skills in selecting Dorsey

No need for Tyler Dorsey to be offended. The Hawks may have cancelled a predraft workout with the sophomore shooting guard from Oregon earlier this month. Still, the team selected him with the 41st overall pick in last week’s NBA Draft. Go figure. “That’s how the process goes,” Dorsey said after an introductory press conference...
Two young players shining for Atlanta United
Two young players shining for Atlanta United

Atlanta United finished Saturday’s 1-0 win over Colorado with a right fullback who had all of three appearances in MLS, and a right midfielder who had all of five. The fact that Anton Walkes and Brandon Vazquez were in the game in the crucial final minutes wasn’t necessitated by injuries or red cards. Gerardo Martino wanted them in the...
More Stories