Hawks 114, Pistons 103
With just under five minutes to play in the third, Kyle Korver hit his fourth three of the contest. Kyle Singler responded with an airball.
It was a pretty fitting metaphor for the Pistons’ night.
A strong start didn’t hold for Detroit, who led early until an 11-1 run from the Hawks at the end of the first quarter put them in a hole they were unable to recover from. Leading the charge was a monster effort from Hawks’ center Al Horford, who racked up a 20-20 performance – 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting, 22 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and a block. Horford flustered the Pistons’ defense in the first half, hitting five of six shots at the basket and adding a 20-foot jumper en route to a 61-51 halftime lead.
Joining Horford atop the Hawks’ scoring column were Jeff Teague (20 points, 12 assists), Josh Smith (23 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists), and Kyle Korver (15 points, 5-of-7 three pointers).
The Pistons’ offense sputtered at times with Brandon Knight (knee) and Will Bynum (suspension) both absent from the lineup. Rodney Stuckey submitted arguably his best performance of the season, scoring 22 points on 10-of-17 shooting and finding his way to the basket seemingly at will. Jose Calderon struggled with his shot, making only three of 11 and going scoreless in the second and fourth quarters. Some late heroics by Jonas Jerebko (21 points, 9-of-12 shooting), who scored 16 points in the fourth quarter, made it interesting, but the Pistons ultimately weren’t quite able to finish the job.
Notably, offense was not the issue for Detroit tonight, as they broke 100 points scored for only the second time since the All-Star break. Instead, the Pistons’ defense struggled to contain the Hawks both inside and out – Horford had free reign in the paint and the Hawks’ shooters sank 14 threes in 33 attempts, including Horford’s first triple of the season. The three point bombardment from the Hawks – coupled with a 3-for-14 mark behind the arc from Detroit – proved to be the difference.
A 10-0 run late in the third quarter brought the Hawks within 20, but Anthony Tolliver evidently tired of that, hitting a long two to close the third and a three to open the fourth. Jerebko provided some late-game excitement, with a left-handed putback, an alley-oop from Kyle Singler, a nice pass to Kravtsov, and a technical for screaming sweet nothings at a referee, but Atlanta held on just long enough. Had the game been ten minutes longer, the result might have been different.
Kim English, seeing a season-high 23 minutes, broke double-digit scoring for the first time in his career, with 10 points. He scored seven in his first 10 minutes, five of which came at the free throw line. jason maxiell (he who shall not be capitalized) hit two jumpers, which was probably the night’s strangest occurrence.
It was an improvement from back-to-back drubbings at the hands of the Pacers, but the loss drops the Pistons to 22-37. This team clearly misses Andre Drummond, who would seem to be nearing a return. Next up: a trip to the nation’s capital to square off with the Wizards, a game which will probably be awful for everybody involved.