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The Other Side: Atlanta Hawks

You put your left foot in, put your left foot out. . . (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)

While the Wizards were the last Eastern Conference team to win, the Atlanta Hawks were the last Eastern Conference team to lose. The Hawks got off to a blistering start, winning their first six games. Their early success was broken down here, but they have struggled to stay on top after losing Josh Smith to a high ankle injury during a commanding win against Toronto on Nov. 7. The Hawks won their next two games over Oklahoma City and Chicago but they are currently on a four-game slide after a 113-96 loss in Indiana on Tuesday.

This is the first time in 48 years that a team started the season with at least six wins in a row only to lose the next four games (the 1960 Philadelphia 76ers started the year 9-0 before losing the next four). The reason for the losses is obvious -- yes, they are hurting (Smith recently got out of his walking boot and Al Horford was injured just over five minutes into the first quarter against Indiana), but they have also allowed their past five opponents to score more than 100 points.

The Hawks have slid into second place in the division behind Orlando. Here are some other things you should know about the hurting Hawks entering tonight's game against the reeling Wizards:

1. Horford is hurting
Last year's rookie of the year runner-up Al Horford had a monster game against the Chicago Bulls to lift the Hawks to their sixth straight win. It was an incredible performance that saw him record 27 points with 17 rebounds and six blocked shots, but he hasn't been able to match those totals in the past four losses, with a combined total of 25 points, 20 rebounds and three blocks. He sprained his right ankle against the Pacers and is questionable tonight.

2. Joe Johnson is balling
Johnson reportedly has an opt out clause in his contract that could make him a free agent this summer, and he is doing his best to carry his team despite injuries to Smith and Horford. The All-Star guard has scored at least 20 points in all but two games this season and ranks fourth in the NBA in scoring.

3. The Hawks have a tough road ahead
After tonight's game, the Hawks will play seven of their next 11 games on the road. They are 4-3 on the road this season, which is a much better start than last season, when they were 12-29 away from Philips Arena. The Hawks are hopeful that they can get some healthy bodies soon, because this wouldn't be the first time Atlanta got off to a great start and then plummeted.

By Michael Lee  |  November 19, 2008; 4:43 PM ET
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Next: Arenas Immortalized


Its bad enough my team is tanking but now i have to listen to Hawk fans boast about their team lets hope EJ can instill some pride in the Wiz tonite or else i'm calling in sick tommorow we might have a chance with Josh Smith out and Horford hurting(bad ankle) but the Hawks are deep and confident despite four loses in a row.

Posted by: dargregmag | November 19, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

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