The Atlanta Hawks are searching for answers.
Against a shorthanded Miami Heat team, their slump continued at State Farm Arena, going down 115-91, marking their ninth-straight home loss — a streak that dates back to November 22.
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The Heat, who were again without Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, improved to 11-4 without their star duo in the lineup, compounding the misery in Atlanta with Tyler Herro pouring in a near triple-double off the bench with 21 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds.
It was a brutal night on the offensive end for the Hawks, who shot just 37.8 percent (31-of-82) from the field and 28.9 percent (13-of-45) from the 3-point line and after trailing by just five points at the half (56-51), they let the game slip away with a poor third quarter performance.
Miami started the third quarter on a 19-2 run to extend their lead to 22 points, outscoring the Hawks 30-16 in the period thanks to a barrage of 3-pointers, knocking down five of their 16 in the frame. Meanwhile, the Hawks went 0-of-6 from deep in the quarter and shot just 5-of-18 from the field.
“We just weren’t able to sustain, really, anything,” Hawks head coach Nate McMillan said of their sloppy third quarter showing.
Coming off a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Hawks have underwhelmed this season, currently holding the fourth-worst record in the East at 17-23, 3.0 games back of the final Play-In Tournament seed.
In those nine home losses, the Hawks defense has been near non-existent, giving up 117.9 points per 100 possessions, which would rank dead last in the NBA this season.
Across their past eight games, they’ve given up 130-plus points on four occasions and while they’ve struggled for consistency in their lineup due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, they aren’t making any excuses.
“I don’t know, to be honest with you,” Trae Young said following Sunday’s loss to the LA Clippers. “I feel like this is getting repetitive since my early years losing, you try so hard to find a way to win and it’s just not enough, and you’ve just got to find a way. It’s tough. I don’t know how to answer that question. I think that stays between myself and myself.
“… We’re finally getting some guys back, but we’ve got to win. For me, I mean obviously, it’s frustrating. I hate losing. That’s pretty much it. I’m not the happiest guy in the world right now, but we’ve got to find a way to win.”
Atlanta has now lost three in a row and dropped nine of their past 12 games.
They’ll get another shot at the Heat on Friday when the two teams meet again in Miami, before a four-game homestand against the Knicks, Bucks, Timberwolves and Heat again.