Three times this season, the Atlanta Hawks have come into Philips Arena, only to leave it on the wrong side of a lopsided loss. Two of those times have come without Al Horford in the middle, including Atlanta's latest debacle against the resurgent Philadelphia 76ers.
South Gwinnett High School superstar Louis Williams lead six Sixers into double figures with 20 points as Philadelphia showed no love, downing the Hawks by a 117-83 margin on Tuesday.
Josh Smith had 16 points and Damien Wilkins added 12 off of the bench for Atlanta, which had won 14 of their last 16 on their home court.
"You can't make any excuses," a candid Marvin Williams told the team's TV broadcast afterward. "You tip your hat to what Philly did. They were extremely ready to play and we weren't ready to play and that's what happens."
Williams' assessment that the Hawks weren't ready to play may be the understatement of the week. The Hawks were simply overmatched by a streaky 76ers team that dominated the boards, controlled the paint and made mince meat of Atlanta's porous defense.
The Sixers shot 62-percent (27-for-42) in a first half where Philadelphia seized control of the contest by a 65-33 score. Unfortunately for the poor souls on hand to witness this one first hand, the score was a true reflection of the Hawks (lack of) effort in the game. Most alarmingly, it was the little things -- like proper switching on the pick-and-roll -- where Atlanta was woefully deficient.
"We can not -- especially at home -- come out with that type of energy, come out with that kind of effort," Hawks coach Larry Drew said. "We can not come out and play that type of game. It's just totally inexcusable. To play such a game, we're fighting for our lives trying to move up the standings. To come out and play like that... is totally, totally..."
Totally what, coach?
"Bad defense, that's all it was," Drew explained. "We were broken down on the dribble. Man-on-man. We were exploited on the dribble. We can not come out and constantly as a team (have them) penetrate our interior."
Unfortunately, this hasn't been the first go-round for a Hawks home performance like this. Buried in that 14-2 home stretch was the ugliest win in Atlanta history -- a forgettable 100-59 loss to the New Orleans Hornets on Jan. 21. The Hawks set an Atlanta franchise low in points in that one.
The common thread in both of those huge setbacks was the absence of Horford. Atlanta brought little effort without their floor leader on the court and were run over by the opposition. In this one, they couldn't even muster a passable effort despite pregame warnings from Drew.
"This is a game going into that I knew and told the guys this would be a really tough balllgame," he said. "It had to be a situation with playoff intensity. I know this team comes hard and keeps coming at you. This is not a game going into it in my mind that we were in position to take it lightly. This Philadelphia team plays hard. They've climbed back into the playoff race after a 3-16 start."
If only his team heeded the warning. Atlanta lost every battle on paper. They shot 41-percent from the field while Philadelphia connected on 54-percent of their chances. They were outrebound, 50-35, and turned over the ball 14 times.
Jeff Teague and Marvin Williams had 10 points each for the Hawks, who do not play again until Saturday night vs. the Charlotte Bobcats.