Some might point to Atlanta's 42-point second quarter as the cause malheureux, but the mother of all bad offensive sequences can really be to blame.
First, the second quarter. The Hawks weren't terribly good on offense, and the Kings weren't terribly bad. Donté Greene and Calvin Booth had to play substantial minutes in the second due to foul trouble. Greene cannot guard Al Horford. Booth cannot guard Horford. Ergo, Horford scored pretty easily. Credit Mike Woodson for going to the well until Kenny Natt figured it out and stuck Jason Thompson in the game and on Horford's hip.
Also, Joe Johnson managed to abuse Rashad McCants off the dribble three straight possessions, resulting in a basket, a pair of (made) free throws, and an easy assist to Solomon Jones, the result of Booth being forced to bite on J.J.'s drive. Granted, McCants also had two steals in this stretch. But it stood as one of only two segments of the game in which Johnson basically scored at will. I wouldn't blame it on anyone but the cruel mistress named Reality.
Also, Josh Smith hit a three at the buzzer to end the second quarter. Josh Smith shoots 26% from three on his career. I can live with that shot.
But the fourth -- WHOA NELLIE! The Kings came into the quarter trailing by six points. Let's look at the offensive possessions ...
No. 1: Spencer Hawes misses a deep three.
No. 2: Hawes kicks out of a tight spot to Beno Udrih for a mid-range jumper, good.
No. 3: A broken play results in a Kevin Martin airball from 425 feet.
No. 4: Francisco Garcia dribbles into J.J.'s lap.
No. 5: Udrih hands the ball off to Acie Law IV.
No. 6: Coming out of a time-out, Law fouls Garcia before the inbounds pass. Garcia hits two free throws.
No. 7: Thompson gets a second-chance bucket, draws a foul, hits one FT.
No. 8: Will Solomon misses a deep three after a Martin kick-out, gets his own long rebound, curls inside the arc, and misses a mid-range jumper.
No. 9: Nocioni misses a three after a kick-out from (I believe) Martin (but possibly Udrih).
No. 10: Martin loses it going to the rim.
... and scene.
The six-point deficit has turned into a 15-point deficit in six minutes of game time. Because the Kings couldn't score more than a measly five points in 10 possessions. And okay, sure, maybe defense had something to do with it too. (Atlanta scored 17 points in their nine possessions.) But we know this team to be laughably bad at defense. You'd think they could score a little. Just ... a ... little.
The starters did play well though, winning the first and third quarters. For Martin, a tidy 31 points on roughly 22 shooting possessions. The defensive rebounding for our starting frontcourt was simply abysmal: two defensive boards for each of Hawes Nocioni and Thompson, in a combined 90 minutes of work. The Hawks had 16 offensive rebounds in 36 opportunities, all flavors of nasty rolled into one.
But (positivity! I'm a slave to you) Thompson was a maniac on the offensive glass (six in 28 minutes) and Hawes earned his Nifty merit badge on offense. Udrih shot like mud, but his ball-handling only once (the aforementioned fourth quarter turnover) veered into dingy. Six assists, one turnover ... don't make me swoon.
Three more opportunities for a victory over the East, fellows. Please. Do. It.