It's safe to say that it was not the general consensus that the Memphis Grizzlies (14-4) would go the rest of the 82-game season without losing another game.
Saturday (Dec. 8) proved that the early season is still early, and that the Grizzlies are going to have times when they just fall short.
The Atlanta Hawks, leading the league in fast-break points, swooped down and snapped the Grizzlies' five-game home winning streak 93-83 at the FedExForum in front of 17,612 fans. The Hawks scored 15 fast-break points compared to five by the Grizzlies.
"It was a lot of factors tonight," said Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins. "We played tired, we thought tired and we only had 15 assists. We didn't share the basketball. We didn't shoot it well or shoot free throws well. We looked like a team that was tired."
The Grizzlies went into halftime 47-41. They started the second half with a Zach Randolph layup. But things started to turnaround quick. With 5:07 left in the third quarter and Memphis leading by five (58-53), Atlanta went on a 20-0 run, which led to a 15-point cushion. Atlanta outscored Memphis 32-13, with guard Lou Williams notching 13 points during the period.
"They (Hawks) are quick," said Hollins. "We couldn't get to the paint, we missed shots, we turned the ball over and they just ran back on us."
Hawks forward Josh Smith led all scorers with 24 points followed by Williams off the bench with 21. Al Horford recorded his fifth consecutive double-double, with 19 points and 14 rebounds.
Both teams were coming off back-to-back games, with Memphis defeating the New Orleans Hornets (96-89) the night before at New Orleans Arena.
The Grizzlies' lack of execution on offense in the second half cost them the ball game.
"Sometimes you don't come out the way you wish and nothing was falling for us," said Grizz center Marc Gasol. " We know that teams really get out there to play us, especially at home. Teams are looking at us as a big, strong team that is consistent and knows how to play the game. We have got to prove it again. Once you stop proving that every night, you are not as good."
Gasol and Randolph both finished with 18 points.
"We've got to chalk it up and put this behind us," Randolph said. "It is a lesson learned. We have got to come out and play. We had a good first half. Well, an OK first half. The second half we didn't come with a lot of energy. You have got to find other stuff to do if you're not scoring, you've got to grab enough rebounds, play defense. We have got to figure it out. It is a lesson learned."
Randolph maintained his NBA lead in double-doubles, finishing with 13 rebounds.
Gay contributed 17 points and nine rebounds, but he shot 7 of 25 from the field. He did keep alive his streak of scoring at least 14 points in every game this season.
Hawks head coach Larry Drew said the Grizz do a really good job of playing a physical game.
"They run you off cuts, they're big, and they do a really good job of controlling the paint," said Drew. "I was concerned that it could possiblly wear us down, but our guys did a phenomenal job in executing our game plans."
The Grizzlies are now on a three-game road stint in hunt of their 15th win of the season, starting with the Phoenix Suns and will return home on Dec. 17 to face the Chicago Bulls.