THE ATLANTA HAWKS STRUGGLE TO FIND THEIR WAY AS THE NBA PLAYOFFS APPROACH

With the playoffs nearing, the Atlanta Hawks are facing all sorts of trouble as they continue to be dominated on their home floor. The Hawks boast a 40 – 32 record and need one more game to clinch a playoff spot in the east but their recent form has been dismal at best.
Atlanta has recently looked like a disjointed group of players. The Hawks have recorded losses in 14 of the last 21 games and are quickly losing ground in the ever-changing eastern conference playoff scene. Sixth-place Philadelphia 76ers are hot on the Hawks’ heels and only 2 ½ games behind them.
With a 114 – 81 loss against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday, Atlanta looked confused and too tired to fight-back. The Bulls led by 47 at one point in the game to embarrass Atlanta in front of their home crowd. Atlanta Coach Larry Drew was unable to fathom why his team seemed to crumble when other teams made big runs, especially at home.
“It’s something I’ve been preaching it seems like every day this month, about how to respond to runs,” Coach Drew said. “This game is a game of runs. Teams make runs. You make runs. You respond to it and we just don’t respond to it well at all. It looks like we lose interest, lose confidence. We just don’t handle it well.”
The 100 -59 loss to the New Orleans Hornets in January, and another 117 – 82 loss to the 76ers in February have uncovered countless flaws in the way the Atlanta Hawks’ players react to tough opposition.
“Everybody on this team knows what we have to do to win. Yet still we don’t come out and do it” guard Joe Johnson said. “We’re a team that sits here in this locker room and talk all the time about what we want to do and what we need to do. Then we go out on the floor and do things that are out of our character or that’s not within ourselves. It makes us all look bad. ”
Atlanta has now been routed in the Philips Arena more than any other team with a 50-plus winning percentage in the history of the NBA. The Hawks have been silenced by 20 points or more five times.
No other team with a winning record has ever looked as bad as the Hawks right now.
According to Joe Johnson there have been a lot of ‘player-only’ meetings this season aimed at deciphering the problem and finding a solution, but all of them have proved unsuccessful. Johnson, a five-time All Star selection has been having a bad year, averaging less than 20 points for the first time in five seasons.
Forward Josh Smith believes it has to do with the Hawks’ inability to group together and help each other on both ends of the floor, to fight-back against the odds and still look for victory.
The Hawks have been also been mired by point-guard troubles, which resulted in Mike Bibby being traded to Washington in exchange for Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong. But after the trade, the Hawks are doing worse than they had planned. The Hawks main group have been together for the past four seasons but still struggle to find their respective identities in the team.
While Coach Drew has considerably experimented with starting line-ups, shuffling players in and out, he hasn’t quite found the correct mix. From benching Marvin Williams to starting Jeff Teague at the 1-guard position, Coach Drew has tried everything.
But, to no avail.
Time is of the essence for the Atlanta Hawks, who need to shake out of their trance quickly and come together as a team if they plan to make a serious run in the approaching playoffs.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: San Diego Chargers Grab Nate Solder at No. 18

For a team that will be picking in the middle of the pack when Draft Day comes, the San Diego Chargers really don’t have that many holes. As a matter of fact, they have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball.
Nevertheless, the Chargers could use an offensive lineman, and they could have a chance to grab the best of the bunch with their No. 18 pick. That would be Colorado offensive tackle Nate Solder, who absolutely owned the NFL Scouting Combine on Saturday.
Solder measured out at 6’8” and 319 pounds, yet he still managed to pace all offensive tackles with a 40 time of 5.05. He also had the top 10-yard split at 1.62 seconds, which basically means that there is very little to complain about regarding his initial burst.
In short, he’s just the kind of guy the Chargers would love to have watching over Philip Rivers’ blind side.
1. Carolina Panthers: Nick Fairley
17. New England Patriots: Cameron Jordan2. Denver Broncos: Da’Quan Bowers
18. San Diego Chargers: Nate Solder
3. Buffalo Bills: Von Miller
19. New York Giants: Anthony Castonzo
4. Cincinnati Bengals: Robert Quinn
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Aldon Smith
5. Arizona Cardinals: Marcell Dareus
21. Kansas City Chiefs: Gabe Carimi
6. Cleveland Browns: A.J. Green
22. Indianapolis Colts: Tryon Smith
7. San Francisco 49ers: Patrick Peterson
23. Philadelphia Eagles: Jimmy Smith
8. Tennessee Titans: Blaine Gabbert
24. New Orleans Saints: Muhammad Wilkerson
9. Dallas Cowboys: Cam Newton
25. Seattle Seahawks: Jake Locker
10. Washington Redskins: J.J. Watt
26. Baltimore Ravens: Rahim Moore
11. Houston Texans: Prince Amukamara
27. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Rudolph
12. Minnesota Vikings: Mike Pouncey
28. New England Patriots: Shane Vereen
13. Detroit Lions: Akeem Ayers
29. Chicago Bears: Benjamin Ijalana
14. St. Louis Rams: Julio Jones
30. New York Jets: Adrian Clayborn
15. Miami Dolphins: Mark Ingram
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Aaron Williams
16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Ryan Kerrigan 32. Green Bay Packers: Justin Houston
For some thoughts on Auburn’s Cam Newton, check out our 5 Predictions for Cam Newton’s Pro Day.
Most recent updates:
2011 NFL Mock Draft: New England Patriots Welcome Cameron Jordan at No. 172011 NFL Mock Draft: Jacksonville Jaguars Nab Ryan Kerrigan to Bolster Pass Rush2011 NFL Mock Draft: Miami Dolphins Grab 2009 Heisman Winner Mark IngramView all updates

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South Carolina 79, Mississippi 73

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Sam Muldrow had 23 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:02 left, as South Carolina snapped a five-game losing streak with a 79-73 victory over Mississippi on Tuesday night.

Muldrow’s points tied his career high and he added 10 rebounds to help the Gamecocks (14-12, 5-8 Southeastern Conference) build a 69-55 lead with 6 minutes left.
That’s when the Rebels (17-11, 5-8) went on an 18-4 run, tying the game at 73 on Zach Graham’s layup with 1:21 to go.
Muldrow answered back for South Carolina, striking for his third 3-pointer of the game.
Graham missed a tying 3-pointer on Ole Miss’ next trip and the Gamecocks closed out their first home victory since Jan. 19 with three free throws.
Mississippi’s Chris Warren had a career-high 33 points off eight 3-pointers, also the best showing of the senior’s career.
South Carolina shot 20 of 22 foul shots and outrebounded Ole Miss 42-38.
It was hard to determine the bigger surprise — that South Carolina built such a large lead after its poor play of recent weeks or how quickly it disappeared down the stretch.
South Carolina came in off a horrible, month-long run, losing seven of its past eight. It managed nine first-half points its last game here, a loss to Georgia. In the Gamecocks’ last game at Kentucky, they fell 90-59 — a contest that wasn’t that close.
But behind Muldrow’s dominance inside and outside, South Carolina grabbed its first halftime lead in six games. Muldrow hit a 3-pointer and a bucket to put the Gamecocks up 69-55 over the confused Rebels.
With Warren on the court, though, Ole Miss is rarely out of it. The SEC’s No. 2 scorer led the rally with a three-point play and his eighth 3-pointer.
Muldrow, though, was the senior with the final response that Warren couldn’t match. It was Muldrow’s sixth game with double-figure points and rebounds.
This one didn’t start so well for the Gamecocks, either. Warren, second in SEC scoring average this year, had four 3-pointers the first 9 minutes as Ole Miss led 21-13.
Then the Rebels went cold and the Gamecocks played like they hadn’t in some time with a 16-2 run to move in front. Muldrow hit a 3-pointer to start the run and Brian Richardson kept it going with another 3. When Ramon Galloway followed a short jumper with three foul shots, the Gamecocks were ahead 29-23.
South Carolina ended the half up 38-34, the first time since a 64-56 win over LSU on Feb. 2 that it held the lead at the break.
Ramon Galloway had 15 points for the Gamecocks while Malik Cooke added 13 and Damontre Harris 11.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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