The Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies are struggling to find consistency, and recent sloppy play has only made that more difficult.
Atlanta hopes to correct those mistakes and beat the visiting Grizzlies for the 11th time in 13 meetings on Wednesday night.
The Hawks (26-21) have dropped 11 of 17 games after going 17-6 over the previous 23 as they seemed to be a factor in the Southeast Division. They've gone from 1 1/2 games back of first-place Miami to six.
Memphis (30-17) finds itself in a similar situation in the Southwest Division. A 6-7 stretch has dropped the Grizzlies from one-half game back of first place to seven games behind division-leading San Antonio.
This series has been one-sided lately with the Hawks taking 10 of the last 12 meetings. Atlanta has averaged 101.6 points on 49.4 percent shooting - 40.2 from behind the arc - in those games.
That success continued Dec. 8, when Josh Smith led the way with 24 points in a 93-83 victory at Memphis. However, he was held to 11 points in a 96-77 loss in the most recent matchup at home on Feb. 2, 2012, ending Atlanta's five-game winning streak in the series there.
The Hawks are coming off consecutive losses to two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, following a 17-point loss to Indiana on Saturday with a 114-103 defeat at Indiana on Tuesday.
Smith scored nine points on 4-of-12 shooting against the Pacers and was responsible for four of his team's 18 turnovers. The Hawks also committed a season-high 33 personal fouls, as the Pacers made 31 of 40 from the stripe.
"When I look at the stat sheet, the most glaring thing is the free throws," coach Larry Drew said. "We fouled way too much. From the game plan and game strategy, I thought we tried to execute the game plan, but we put them on the free throw line too many times."
Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins has his own concerns after watching his team fall 96-90 to Phoenix on Tuesday. Memphis coughed up the ball up seven times in the final quarter - three in the final 3 minutes.
"The disappointing part is they outscored us in the paint 52-40, and they got 11 offensive rebounds for 16 second-chance points," Hollins said. "Then we made some sloppy turnovers coming down the stretch for no reason."
Jerryd Bayless continues to emerge as a solid contributor for the Grizzlies. He's scored in double figures in seven straight games, averaging 21.0 during that span while shooting 53.3 percent - 6 for 13 from behind the arc - over the past four.
The guard is coming off his best performance yet, pouring in a season-high 29 points on 11 for 15 from the floor.
Zach Randolph averages 21.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in eight career visits to Atlanta, but he missed the latest matchup there with a knee injury. The big man hasn't been very productive on the road lately, averaging 8.6 points on 30.6 percent shooting (19 for 62) in his last five away games.
He may find himself battling Al Horford in the paint. The Hawks' forward-center is averaging 19.8 points over the past six games. He had 19 points and 14 boards at Memphis in December.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved