AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — On the second game of a tough road trip, Al Horford and the Atlanta Hawks made the most of a chance to put away a weakened opponent.
Horford had 23 points and 22 rebounds, leading the Hawks to a 114-103 victory over the banged-up Detroit Pistons on Monday night. It was the fifth win in six games for Atlanta.
The Pistons were without injured guard Brandon Knight and suspended guard Will Bynum.
“Obviously, Detroit’s a little depleted, and in the past, we’ve kind of relaxed when that happens,” Horford said. “I think that we did a great job of coming out and staying aggressive.”
Josh Smith added 23 points for the Hawks, who were ahead 61-51 at halftime and led by as many as 26 in the third quarter.
The Pistons have lost three straight, all without Knight, who has a hyperextended right knee. Bynum was also out Monday, suspended for a game for striking Indiana forward Tyler Hansbrough during a game against the Pacers on Saturday.
“When you are a little short-handed, everyone has to put more into the game, but that didn’t happen tonight,” Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. “We let them have too many easy baskets, and when you let a team like that get into a rhythm, it is hard to stop it.”
Jeff Teague had 20 points for Atlanta, which shot 14 of 33 from 3-point range. Kyle Korver scored 15 points, all from beyond the arc.
Rodney Stuckey led Detroit with 22 points, and Jonas Jerebko added 21.
Horford equaled his career high in rebounds.
“The key to the rebounds was our guards honestly,” Horford said. “Our guards did a great job containing off the dribble, and that allowed me to stay attached with those big guys. In the past, I usually have to go help, then we have problems with offensive rebounding.”
Atlanta’s only loss in its last six games was to Miami, and the Heat lead the Hawks by 8 games in the Southeast Division. But the Hawks are very much on the bubble for home-court advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. They moved percentage points ahead of Brooklyn for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
Now Atlanta heads to Utah before finishing the road trip against Phoenix, the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver.
“We just have to keep trying to play well and try to win as many games as we can,” Horford said. “Our stretch only gets tougher. We’re not trying to look ahead, but we know what our schedule is.”
The Pistons were already without rookie big man Andre Drummond, who has a stress fracture in his back, and losing Knight and Bynum only made matters worse.
The Hawks were without Zaza Pachulia because of an Achilles strain, but they shot 55 percent in the first half, including 7 of 16 from 3-point range. Horford already had 13 points and 13 rebounds by halftime.
“We got out and ran. Defensively we did some good things,” Atlanta coach Larry Drew said. “The start of the third quarter we really got it going. The third quarter I thought really set the tone for the rest of the game.”
Horford’s shot from the baseline in the third made it 76-58, and Frank took his second timeout of the quarter. It was no use. A 3-pointer by Smith pushed the lead to 24, and Teague’s two free throws made it 86-60.
The Pistons cut the deficit to 14 and had the ball midway through the fourth quarter, but Teague’s steal and layup made it 97-81.
Near the end, Horford capped his terrific game with a 3-pointer from around the top of the key — his first of the season and fourth of his career. NOTES: Korver has made a 3-pointer in 49 consecutive games. … Horford also had 22 rebounds against Miami on Feb. 27, 2009.