The 76ers have lacked quite a bit in the early part of this season, and their ability to move the ball on the offensive end could be at the top of the list.

While opponents whip the ball around with crisp passes in half-court sets, the Sixers often struggle to get good looks at the basket.

This was evident last night in an 88-79 loss to the enigmatic Atlanta Hawks at the Wachovia Center.

The Sixers shot 30 for 75 from the field. If one takes away Willie Green's 10-for-14 effort (for a game-high 23 points), they were 20 for 61.

That won't win many games in the NBA, the CBA, or at the local college or high school.

The Hawks continually got open shots while the Sixers forced too many. When they were open, they obviously didn't cash in enough.

"I don't know if we're not setting solid enough screens or using them properly; we're not able to get good shots," said Kyle Korver, who scored 11 points, shooting 4 for 12. "When you have it going, it's a good shot - and I'm not pointing fingers at anybody - but those are the shots we're getting and not making."

In the second half, the Sixers shot just 28.9 percent after hitting 51.4 percent in the first two quarters.

Although the Sixers entered this season placing an emphasis on good defense, they have seemingly forgotten the art of scoring, at least on a consistent basis.

Usually when Andre Iguodala doesn't play well, the Sixers have little chance. Last night was not one of his memorable performances.

Iguodala scored 11 points, shooting 4 for 14 from the field. He attempted just three shots in the first half, when the Sixers held a 46-45 lead.

"I'm fine," Iguodala said. "It's just a bad night."

The problem is that the 5-12 Sixers are having a lot of those nights. While many players insist the season is young, it is heading toward the quarter pole.

This was a night when the Sixers did not need to be great to win, but ordinary would not get the job done.

The Hawks (7-9) had lost seven straight in Philadelphia, but this isn't the same hopeless group that went 30-52 last season.

The Hawks are among the more athletic teams in the NBA. There are few forward tandems that display more athletic ability than Josh Smith, who had 22 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists, and Marvin Williams, who added 16 points.

Rookie Al Horford is an undersize center, but it didn't stop him from grabbing 13 rebounds. Horford, like Smith and Williams, runs the court extremely well.

The Hawks also played against a Sixers team that was more than matching them mistake for mistake. Atlanta had 26 assists and 13 turnovers, while the Sixers had 14 assists and 17 turnovers.

"We shared the ball tonight offensively," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said.

The Sixers trailed by 66-62 entering the fourth quarter, but Atlanta continually connected on open looks, while the Sixers shot 6 for 22 in the fateful final period.

While most of the Sixers, including coach Maurice Cheeks, have acknowledged the team has struggled in half-court sets, point guard Andre Miller had a different take.

"I don't think we really struggle that much," said Miller, who had 18 points and recorded all of his six assists in the first half. "I think the ball hasn't gone in."

Nobody would argue the second point.

"Teams get in a rhythm and get confidence, and when you miss a couple of shots, it makes it look worse than what it really is," Miller said.

Interesting spin, but like the Sixers' offense, it was probably a little off.

Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or mnarducci@phillynews.com. Read his blog at http://go.philly.com/deepsixer.