Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 1/6/12
The Atlanta Hawks are already in the midst of a grueling week, and it may be about to get even tougher with the Charlotte Bobcats coming off a stellar performance. The visiting Hawks look to fight off fatigue and overcome the Bobcats Friday night when the Southeast Division rivals meet for the first of two games in less than a week. Atlanta (4-3) is 1-2 so far in a stretch of eight games over 11 days, concluding with a visit from the Bobcats (2-4) next Thursday. The Hawks were forced to play three overtimes Thursday against Miami, falling 116-109 to begin a stretch of three games in three nights that will finish at home Saturday versus Chicago. Atlanta failed to take advantage of a Heat team playing without both Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. "There was a total, total mental letdown," coach Larry Drew said, adding his players lacked the spark they had when they won 100-92 in Miami on Monday. "I didn't see the sense of urgency I saw in Miami," he said. "The tendency is to let your guard down, and we certainly did." Joe Johnson finished with 20 points for Atlanta but missed 13 of 20 shots, including a 1-of-7 effort from 3-point range. Even that performance was better than Johnson produced two nights earlier in a 76-74 loss at Chicago, making 3 of 17 from the floor and scoring a season-low 10 points. The five-time All-Star has averaged 20.0 points in 10 career visits to Charlotte, but was limited to two on 1-for-6 shooting in 10:20 of playing time in a 96-85 loss April 13, when his ineffectiveness landed him on the bench for the second half. That defeat dropped the Hawks to 3-11 all-time at Time Warner Cable Arena. While Atlanta seeks to bounce back after a long and rough night, the Bobcats will try to maintain their momentum from Wednesday's 118-110 win at New York. Charlotte shot a season-high 53.3 percent from the field overall and hit 7 of 11 3-pointers to snap a four-game losing streak. Boris Diaw scored a season-high 27 points while connecting for 12 of 15 shots overall and all three of his 3-point attempts against the Knicks. That effort came a night after he shot 0 for 5 and went scoreless in a 115-101 loss at Cleveland. Diaw is averaging 11.2 points, while his 7.2 rebounds leads the team and his 5.7 assists rank second. "Some games I'm going to score a lot of points and some not, and usually it doesn't depend on what we do but what the opposite team is doing, and I always try to adapt to whatever the defense is giving me," Diaw said. Gerald Henderson also enjoyed his best offensive effort of the young season, scoring 24 points Wednesday while shooting 10 for 13. Charlotte will be without forward Corey Maggette, who strained his left hamstring against the Knicks and is out 2-to-4 weeks. Maggette is averaging 12.2 points and 6.2 rebounds. However, Bobcats big man Tyrus Thomas is expected to make his season debut after being sidelined by a sprained ankle. The Hawks and Bobcats split four meetings in 2010-11, with each winning once on the other's home floor.
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