Originally created 01/19/00

Atlanta continues to slump



ATLANTA -- Since team president Stan Kasten threatened a shakeup of the underachieving Atlanta Hawks a week ago, nothing much has changed.

Atlanta has continued its losing ways, dropping two of their past three games.

And it could get worse for the Hawks, who are 13-23 overall, including an awful 3-14 on the road, and play their next two games at Philadelphia tonight and Miami on Friday.

"We anticipated being in somewhat of a transijtion period because we made so many changes (this season)," Hawks general manager Pete Babcock said following Tuesday's practice.

"We brought in seven new players. That's a lot of change. And they were seven we felt would play a lot," he said.

"We anticipated some difficulty, but it hasn't come together as we thought it would. We're all disappointed -- the staff and the players -- and we're trying to find a way to break out of it."

Last week Kasten's patience in his new, young roster apparently reached its limit. He said he is looking at making some changes on the court if the Hawks don't turn it around by the All-Star break.

The Hawks are off to their worst start since the 1976-77 season, losing 10 of their last 13 and 14 of 18. They have 11 games left before the Feb. 13 All-Star game.

"It's disappointing," said center Dikembe Mutombo.

"We have dug ourselves a big hole and we've got to play better. Otherwise we'll be talking about next year," he said.

"We like our roster a lot ... but we just aren't getting it done," said Kasten.

"We were right there in the middle of December, so I know it's there," Kasten said. "If it doesn't happen by the All-Star break, we will think about doing anything we can to turn it around."

The Hawks traded away veteran guards Steve Smith and Mookie Blaylock. In return, Atlanta got controversial guard Isaiah Rider, swingman Jim Jackson, veteran guard Bimbo Coles and third year center Lorenzen Wright and added three first round picks in guards Jason Terry and Dion Glover and forward Cal Bowdler.

Babcock put some of the blame for the team's poor showing on the loss of Jimmy Jackson, who is averaging 18 points a game, for two games on Dec. 8, the same day second-year forward Roshown McLeod (8.7 points) was lost with a strained groin and hasn't played since.

"We had won five games in a row and beat some pretty good teams, then all of a sudden Jimmy had to have treatment on his knee and Roshown went down on the same day," he said.

"These two guys had been playing significant minutes, and for whatever reason, we've been out of synch since then," said Babcock. "We have to find a way to get it back."

Does the team need more time to jell or is a trade necessary?

"Some things don't have answers to. You just explore all the possibilities. All we know specifically is that we're not defending as well as we're capable of and we don't run consistently," he said.

The explanations, however, are wearing thin.

"It's the middle of January already and we are way past the time for excuses," Kasten said. "We should playing up to our ability. On some nights, we are the most underachieving team in the league."

HORNETS:

Charlotte announced makeup dates for the two home games postponed following the death of co-captain Bobby Phills.

A game against Chicago originally set for Jan. 12 will be played March 5 at 7:05 p.m. The Jan. 14 game against New York will be made up Feb. 7 at 7:40 p.m.