Atlanta Hawks Barely Avoid Embarrassing NBA Scoring Record in Loss to Bulls

Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2013

The Chicago Bulls set a franchise record and nearly erased an unsightly one from their history books in their 97-58 dismantling of the Atlanta Hawks at the United Center Monday night.

In holding the Hawks to a paltry 58 points on 29.3 percent shooting, coach Tom Thibodeau's defense worked its way into the franchise record books:

Hawks avoid lowest opponent FG percentage but set opponent franchise low with just 58 points.

— K.C Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 15, 2013


It still wasn't enough to remove the dubious record that the Bulls have held since 1999 for single-game futility, when the Miami Heat held Chicago to 49 points in the contest.

But that was the extent of saving graces for a Hawks team that finished the night with just 10 more field goals (24) than turnovers (14).

Atlanta's undoing came about shortly after creating themselves a 26-15 first-quarter deficit. By the time the halftime buzzer sounded, the Hawks had seemingly taken the NBA to a new low:

Hawks scored five second quarter points on 2 for 21 shooting (9.5 percent). #ATLHawks

— Chris Vivlamore (@ajchawks) January 15, 2013


While it may not have been the NBA's all-time worst effort for a quarter (the Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors each hold two-point quarters on their resumes), that didn't stop the Hawks from entering their own record books:

Hawks' 20 points in a half and five points in a quarter are both franchise lows. #ATLHawks

— Chris Vivlamore (@ajchawks) January 15, 2013


Sounds pretty atrocious, right? Well, it looked even worse:

The Hawks have made 9 of their first 40 shots against the Bulls tonight. That makes for a rough-looking shot chart

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 15, 2013


Ian Johnson dropped in a layup with 2:54 left in the first quarter, which cut Chicago's lead to 22-15. Following Johnson's bucket, the Hawks embarked on a 13:22 stretch in which they scored just two points (an Al Horford tip-in) and had 11 turnovers. By the time Josh Smith ended the stretch with a one-for-two visit to the free-throw line, the Hawks faced a 25-point deficit (45-20).

Atlanta's first-half line was the second-worst first-half performance of the shot-clock era (the Los Angeles Clippers scored 19 in the first half in 1999, via NBATV).

The Hawks' recent history has been marred by inconsistent effort and play, but this was unlike anything Atlanta residents had seen for quite some time:

Atlanta's had some bad nights before, but most had to do with Civil War.

— Sam Smith (@SamSmithHoops) January 15, 2013


''This was very, very embarrassing,'' said Hawks coach Larry Drew after the game, via the AP. ''From where we were as a team to where we're at right now, we have lost all sense of team on both ends of the floor. And why that's happened I really can't put my finger on it.''

''Right now we've flatlined," he stated. "Not just from a physical standpoint. Mentally we have flattened. I've got to find a way to resuscitate this team.''

Seldom-used rookie reserve Mike Scott was the only Hawks player to reach double-figures (10 points), a number reached by only three total players in the contest (Carlos Boozer scored a game-high 20, while Luol Deng chipped in with 18.)

Chicago reserve Taj Gibson tallied eight points and seven rebounds in just over 21 minutes of action, including this highlight flush in the fourth quarter.

Still, the Bulls (21-15) and Hawks (21-16) are both entrenched in the Eastern Conference playoff race—even if one side may have not looked the part Monday night.

Atlanta will have less than 48 hours to process their performance, with the Brooklyn Nets traveling to Atlanta on Wednesday night. Meanwhile, Chicago will next head north for a showdown with the Toronto Raptors, also on Wednesday.