The Atlanta Hawks are happy to hit the highway after their latest two debacles at Philips Arena. The Hawks embark on a seven-game road trip, sandwiched around the All-Star Break when they take on the Detroit Pistons at the Palace at Auburn Hills on Monday (7:30 p.m., SportSouth, 97.9 FM).
After taking 14 of 16 losses on its home court, Atlanta (33-20) has hit a lull at the Highlight Factory of late, suffering an embarrassing 117-83 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers last Tuesday before blowing a 22-point lead en route to dropping an 88-86 decision to the lowly Charlotte Bobcats.
The Hawks hope to soar back into the win column against a foe that they have not had much success against in Michigan. Atlanta's basketball team has dropped 10 of its last 11 games in suburban Detroit, including a 103-80 setback there on Dec. 14.
Atlanta hopes the beginning of their long journey away from Philips Arena, which will be hosting the circus later this week, will be a fruitful one. However, in order to get there, coach Larry Drew's team is going to have to learn a few things about winning basketball games.
When the Hawks are clicking on all cylinders, Josh Smith and Al Horford are attacking the post, dominating the paint and dictating the pace of the game. But in both of Atlanta's last two contests, the Hawks resorted to launching ill-advised jumpers instead of continuing the inside/out game that has made them one of the better teams in the East.
To make matters worse, Horford was out in Atlanta's embarrassing loss to the Sixers, but was back on Saturday night against the Bobcats. Even the Hawks' floor leader couldn't stop his team from pulling up and taking what the opponent's defense gave them instead of driving the lane and dictating the action.
Atlanta shot just 29p ercent in the second half as Charlotte overcame a huge deficit. Former Hawk Stephen Jackson secured the win with a jumper over Maurice Evans as the game clock hit all zeros.
The Hawks hope to take advantage of a pretty bad Pistons team, which has dropped three straight and five of their last six games on their home court. Detroit (20-35) is in the midst of a season-high five game homestand. They have lost the two on the stand, including a 105-100 decision to the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday.
Ben Gordon had 18 points and Will Bynum added 15 for the Pistons as the bench outscored Detroit's starters, 57-43.
Atlanta heads to New York for its final game prior to the break before heading to Phoenix, Golden State, Portland, Denver and Los Angeles to open the second-half of the season.