What happens when your offense can't penetrate a New Orleans Hornets zone defense and you shoot up jumpers with reckless abandon? You turn the joys of defeating a tough Miami Heat team three days ago into the agony of an epic defeat.
Chris Paul added 16 points and eight assists and David West and Marco Belinelli poured in 15 each in the Hornets' 100-59 demolition of the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night at Philips Arena.
"We just came out and laid an egg," Hawks sixth man Jamal Crawford admitted. "Unfortunately, teams go through situations like that over the course of an 82-game season. You just hate to have it happen to you."
Crawford had 14 and Josh Smith added 13 for the Hawks, who set an Atlanta franchise with their poor offensive performance. That's right folks, in the 43 seasons here in the ATL including this one, this Atlanta team had never been held under 60 points. The previous mark was 63 in the Hawks' 10 point loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Nov. 19, 1996.
Then tonight happened.
- The Hawks shot 29-percent from the field. They took 20 3-point attempts, connecting on just four.
- Atlanta was outrebounded 55-32 as New Orleans dished 26 assists.
- The Hawks on the other hand made just 23 field goals and found the open man on 11 of them.
- The Hornets attacked the paint and went to the line 15 times in the first half. Atlanta had just five free throw attempts in the first 24 minutes.
It was a complete and utter domination by the team from the Big Easy that sure as heck didn't take it easy on the Hawks.
"Nobody wants to lose that way, especially at home," Hawks coach Larry Drew said. "That's very embarrassing to lose in that fashion."
Paul and the Hornets stung Atlanta by scoring 21 of the final 26 points in the second quarter to turn a one-point Atlanta lead to a 49-34 edge at the break. Sensing a lack of energy, Drew elected to start Jamal Crawford to begin the third quarter.
The change did no good as New Orleans opened the third with a 17-2 run to take a 66-36 lead on a pair of free throws with 6:08 left in the frame. Atlanta couldn't buy a bucket. They had just three field goals and seven points in 12-plus minutes of basketball.
This one was over.
The only one in uniform fortunate to not be around at the end of it was center Jason Collins, who was ejected for a flagrant-2 foul on West early in the third quarter. He didn't get to hear the chorus of boos that rained down on the home team by the few fans left at the Bulb at the end of it.
"You can't explain it," Smith said of the loss. "You have games like this. I think Chris Paul is a very smart point guard. He dissected our defense. It's kind of disappointing. We played our hearts out against Miami. We came here and (New Orleans) did a good job against us."
The Hornets cruised to a 43 point lead in the fourth as Atlanta's bench couldn't score either. The Hawks briefly flirted with beating the all-time franchise mark of 57 points in a game before Jordan Crawford nailed a 3-pointer with 32 seconds left for Atlanta's final points.
Instead, the Hawks were on the receiving end of the sixth worst loss in Atlanta history and their worst loss since a 46 point setback in a 113-67 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 9, 2004.
Atlanta's worst margin of defeat was 47 points against the Philadelphia 76ers with a 132-85 beatdown in the City of Brotherly Love on Dec. 8, 1982.
Of course, there's no rest for the weary Hawks, who immediately headed north to Charlotte for a Saturday night matchup against the division rival Charlotte Bobcats.
If there's any silver lining for Atlanta, it's that they get to play the next day.
"That's the good thing about it," Atlanta forward Joe Johnson said. "After such an embarrassing game tonight, we right back tomorrow. I expect the result to be a lot different."
Al Horford sat this one out with a sprained right ankle and may also miss Saturday's game in the Queen City. Marvin Williams also missed this one with a back injury. While you can certainly point the finger at the injury bug in a close one, any excuses that Atlanta lost this one because those guys were out are about as realistic as expecting tween pop star Justin Bieber to come into a basketball arena, get shown on the scoreboard and get a standing ovation.
(Yes, folks the Bieb was at Philips Arena to witness Atlanta's epic loss. He was greeted with a smattering of boos, too.)
Trevor Ariza was a late scratch with right ankle tendinits for the Hornets, who have won seven straight games.