MILWAUKEE--It came as no surprise that Larry Drew was late to his postgame news conference.
After what could be called his team's worst performance in a season of lackluster showings, the Milwaukee Bucks' head coach held a closed-door team meeting that lasted approximately 20 minutes Saturday night.
During the meeting, Drew questioned his players' will to fight on in the face of adversity. He questioned their commitment. He questioned their pride.
"That was just a totally, totally unacceptable performance," Drew said following the Bucks' 112-87 home loss to the Atlanta Hawks. "I told the guys after the game it's beyond basketball. It's about going out there and representing what's on your chest and what's on your back."
The Hawks may be the third-best team in the Eastern Conference, but they were playing short-handed Saturday night. Two of their top three scorers, Jeff Teague and Al Horford, didn't make the trip due to injuries.
And yet the Bucks didn't have any answers for the likes of Louis Williams and Mike Scott, who scored 18 and 14 points, respectively, off the bench.
Paul Millsap dominated the paint on the way to 20 points in just under 29 minutes. Milwaukee turned the ball over 20 times leading to 26 Atlanta points and at times showed little to no effort as the Hawks' lead ballooned as large as 34 points.
"I saw times where possessions were taken off," Drew said. "I don't care what the situation is from a wins and losses standpoint -- guys are being paid to play hard. We did not play hard.
"I'm disappointed in everybody with myself included."
As has been the case many times this season, leadership did not come from the Bucks' veterans. Instead, it came most ostensibly from Brandon Knight, who is in his third year in the league and first with the Bucks.
Knight never stopped playing. He scored 27 points on 11-for-15 shooting. Most importantly, he made efforts to encourage his teammates when things were at their darkest and was on the court when the game ended.
Drew said he wants to go with the players who are going to compete, and when the final buzzer sounded Knight and Giannis Antetokounmpo were the only starters on the floor.
"At any point of the season, effort is for love of the game," Knight said. "We've got to love what we do no matter what our record is. Not everybody has the opportunity to play at this level. We've got to take advantage of it.
"You've got to cherish it. It can come and it can go quickly. When I say a lack of commitment, I just mean playing hard and cherishing the game that has paved the way and takes care of us. You've got to take care of it as well.
"With the way things have been going, it's easy to fall into bad habits."
Drew wouldn't let on to what changes might be coming to the lineup, but they're coming. As the coach of the Hawks last year, he showed that he wasn't afraid of shuffling things around by making more changes than most NBA teams.
With his team consistently demonstrating poor execution, discipline and effort, he vowed to play only the players who will commit to changing for the better.
"Right now what we've shown is we'll have a lineup and it may work a game, and then it'll go back to the way it was for three games," Drew said. "I'm looking for a lineup that will give us consistency." as far as how we play.
"I don't care which lineup I put out there. I want them to compete and I want them to compete at a high level."
(c)2014 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Visit the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at www.jsonline.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services