It’s been a crazy year for the Atlanta Hawks, who once looked like a lock for the 3-seed in the East but are now in danger of missing the playoffs.
Once 25-21, Atlanta has gone 7-20 in its last 27 games.
“We just kind of dug our own grave,” Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll said on Ferrall on the Bench. “We just out here trying to compete and be aggressive. We got nine games left, and we just want to leave it all on the line.”
The Hawks endured a brutal stretch in February and early March in which they lost 14 of 15 games. Then they won won five straight. Then they lost six straight before beating Phialdelphia, 103-95, on Monday.
“It’s a win we needed,” said Carroll, who had nine points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Paul Millsap, meanwhile, was a beast, finishing with game-highs in points (28) and rebounds (17), while also adding four assists and three steals.
“He’s been carrying us the whole year,” Carroll said. “That’s why he was named an All-Star. We just try to ride Paul as long as we can. I think some other starters got to step up like Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver and myself. Hopefully we can pick up some big wins.”
Teague (12) and Korver (11) had 23 points against Philadelphia but combined to shoot just 2-of-9 from three-point range. Luckily, shooting guard Louis Williams scored 22 points off the bench for Atlanta.
“It was greta for Lou,” Carroll said. “When you got Lou playing like that, it’s amazing. He’s our X-factor. We brought him in to be that type of person, to put the ball in the hole. He had a great game against his former team.”
Carroll didn’t expect much fight from Philadelphia, which had lost 26 of its previous 27 games, but he came away impressed with a young Sixers squad.
“They actually looked more aggressive than I thought they would look,” he said. “They’re a team that doesn’t have nothing to lose. It’s a lot of young guys that just trying to play hard and a couple guys (are) on 10-day contracts, so they’re out there playing their lives off. I think we just took them for granted first, and then we had to turn it on towards the end of the game.”
Atlanta actually trailed by two points entering the fourth quarter.
Still, the Hawks (32-41) got the win to maintain a one-game lead over the Knicks (32-43) for the final playoff spot in the East.
Carroll said he and his teammates aren’t concerned with what the Knicks do.
“We’re trying not to worry about that,” he said. “If we take care of Hawks basketball, we won’t have to worry about the Knicks. The best thing for us is to keep staying under the radar and try to pick up wins.”
Six of Atlanta’s nine remaining games are at home: Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Boston, Miami and Charlotte, among them.
If the Hawks miss the playoffs, they’ll have only themselves to blame.
“Yeah, I agree,” he said. “I think we just got to keep playing hard and keep doing what we doing and hopefully we pick up some wins. We can’t really focus on just trying to make the playoffs and New York right on our back. We got to focus on trying to get better and staying true to Coach (Mike Budenholzer’s) system. We just trying to get this thing rolling and build something here.”