Bobcats-Hawks Preview

The Associated Press

The struggling Charlotte Bobcats haven't played many close games in the new year, though one of those tight contests came against the Atlanta Hawks less than a week ago.

They still couldn't earn a victory, which have been few and far between for the Bobcats this season.

Atlanta looks to beat Charlotte for the eighth time in the last nine matchups at Philips Arena when the teams meet Thursday night.

The Bobcats (2-8) have been beaten by at least 12 points four times in their seven games since Jan. 1, including an 82-70 loss to Houston on Tuesday. It marked their fewest points in a home game since a 93-62 loss to Boston on Dec. 11, 2010.

"I thought we were tired and couldn't really do anything, couldn't execute, couldn't run, couldn't defend,'' coach Paul Silas said after his team's fourth game in five nights..

D.J. Augustin went 4 for 13 and had 11 points, while Boris Diaw scored four points and finished 2 for 13.

"It's just one of those nights. Even layups. We had shots right at the hoop but we couldn't convert," Silas said. "We just didn't have it. We played a tough game Monday night (in New York), and then to come back and have to play, that's rough. It's rough.''

It wasn't the first time Silas mentioned fatigue as a reason for the Bobcats' struggles, and it's what kept Tyrus Thomas from playing Tuesday. It's unclear if Thomas will return for this matchup after being held out due to fatigued legs while playing big minutes over the previous three contests.

Charlotte has lost eight of nine since beating Milwaukee in its season opener Dec. 26, with the only win coming at New York on Jan. 4. Two nights later, the Bobcats overcame a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit against Atlanta, but eventually fell 102-96 in overtime.

Josh Smith had 23 points and 12 rebounds in that contest for the Hawks (7-4), who had their three-game winning streak snapped with a 96-84 loss at Indiana on Wednesday.

Smith scored a team-high 16 points, but Atlanta couldn't overcome 18 turnovers and a nine-point third quarter after heading into the half down three.

"We did everything wrong,'' coach Larry Drew said. "We turned the ball over, we missed layups, we missed blockout assignments. Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong in the third quarter. It seemed like we just hit a wall after that.''

Atlanta shot only 37.5 percent after hitting 51.2 percent of its shots during its winning streak.

The Hawks, though, were playing without two key players, and they may be without another Thursday.

Marvin Williams did not travel with the team due to an ankle injury, and Tracy McGrady was held out Wednesday because of back spasms. Al Horford then suffered a sprained shoulder midway through the first quarter and did not return.

Though initial X-rays came back negative, Horford will be evaluated again before the morning shootaround to determine if he will play against Charlotte.

Atlanta had won seven straight home meetings against the Bobcats before an 88-86 loss Feb. 12. Augustin and Diaw went 2 for 11 with six combined in Charlotte's win, while Smith scored a team-high 28 in the defeat.