With 9:48 left in the first quarter, and Josh Smith was already heading to the bench with two fouls. After getting blown out in Game 1 by the Indiana Pacers, this was not a good omen for the Atlanta Hawks at the outset of a crucial Game 2.
Sure enough, Smith was hounded by foul trouble all night, and the Hawks were blown out again to fall behind 2-0 in their first-round series against the Pacers. Smith managed to scored 16 points in just 20 minutes, and his presence would have helped immensely on both offense and defense.
Hawks head coach Larry Drew said the early foul trouble forced some unexpected adjustments.
"That did throw a little bit of a monkey wrench into things when he picked up two quick fouls," Drew said. "We had to make some adjustments in terms of our substitution pattern."
It was the second straight game where Atlanta had issues with foul trouble. The Hawks racked up 26 fouls in Game 1, which led to 34 Pacers free throws. Meanwhile, Atlanta only attempted 14 free throws of their own. On Wednesday night, the Pacers shot 29 free throws to 20 for the Hawks, which did not please Devin Harris.
"We felt like we didn't get the good whistle tonight," Harris said. "But we can't let that affect us. We just have to focus on our team and focus on ourselves and play through the calls we feel we're not getting."
In addition to the foul trouble, the Hawks also racked up three technical fouls. That indicates some frustration is seeping in, which is certainly not surprising considering the outcome of the series so far. But Atlanta must regain their focus as they head back home to a building where they've beaten Indiana 11 straight times.
Quotes via NBA.com.