Griffin, Pistons aim to bounce back versus Hawks

ATLANTA — Blake Griffin will play his first game on the road with the Detroit Pistons on Sunday when they meet the Atlanta Hawks.

The Pistons are bidding to bounce back after having their five-game winning streak snapped by Griffin’s former employer.

The Los Angeles Clippers got the best of Griffin and the Pistons in Detroit on Friday, using a 31-15 fourth-quarter surge for a 108-95 victory.

Griffin had 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists, but was 7 of 19 from the floor overall and 1 of 7 from behind the 3-point arc.

“We obviously didn’t play the way we wanted to. I didn’t play the way I wanted to,” Griffin said. “But that’s the NBA. We had a good five-game run and we go back to work (Sunday). We’ve got three more games before the (All-Star) break. Try to finish out strong.”

The Pistons (27-27) had won five in a row overall to match their season high following an eight-game losing streak.

This five-game winning streak, like the one to start November, came all at home. Detroit needs to turn things around on the road if the addition of Griffin is to help it to a playoff berth.

The Pistons are 9-16 away from Detroit and have won just one of their past nine road games.

Playing at Atlanta is hardly a daunting task this season. The retooling Hawks (17-39) have the worst record in the Eastern Conference and are 0-2 against the Pistons, including a 105-91 home loss on Dec. 14.

The teams will meet again in three days.

Atlanta had gone eight years without losing a season series to the Pistons before going 1-2 a season ago.

The Hawks were 11-1 at Philips Arena against Detroit over a seven-season stretch before the teams split two games in Atlanta each of the past two years.

The Hawks on Friday bought out the contract of Marco Belinelli after being unable to trade the veteran shooter prior to Thursday’s deadline.

Belinelli was averaging 11.4 points off the bench, but the Hawks wanted to give his minutes to younger players the rest of the season.

“It was the right thing for both of us,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We’ve been playing Tyler Dorsey and some of the younger guys more recently and we’d like to do more of that down the stretch here. Obviously, it’s a time where Marco can help a team that is in a different situation than we are.”

Dorsey, a second-round draft choice out of the University of Oregon, scored 14 points in Friday’s 123-107 home loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The rookie made three 3-pointers.

The Pistons bolstered their bench on Thursday, acquiring forward James Ennis and veteran point guard Jameer Nelson in separate deals.

Both could make their Detroit debuts against the Hawks.

Ennis, a good defender, was viewed as the most significant addition, but Nelson also is in need for now as a backup to Ish Smith with starting point guard Reggie Jackson on the injured list.