Pistons 103, Hawks 80
The Detroit Pistons had one of the biggest meltdowns in
franchise history Saturday night.
On Tuesday, they weren’t going to let it happen again.
In their first game since blowing a 25-point lead in an
embarrassing loss to Toronto, the Pistons held off a third-quarter
rally before pulling away for a 103-80 victory over the Atlanta
Detroit led 49-37 at halftime before the Hawks scored the first
11 points of the third quarter. Detroit scored the next five
points, though, and Atlanta was never able to catch up.
”That was huge,” Pistons coach John Kuester said. ”This game
is fragile – don’t ever forget that. During a run like that,
everyone is second-guessing themselves, but we did a great job of
executing at that point and kept them from getting ahead of
Richard Hamilton scored 24 points and Charlie Villanueva added
23 points and 11 rebounds for Detroit (8-18).
”We know we are a much better team than our record shows,”
Villanueva said. ”We were desperate to get a win tonight after
what we did against Toronto.
Josh Smith led the Hawks with 26 points, while Al Horford added
17 points and 12 rebounds.
”Give Detroit credit – they made shots,” Hawks coach Larry
Drew said. ”We turned the ball over, we let them run out on us,
and we just didn’t get the job done.”
Detroit dominated the first half, leading from the first
possession on its way to the 12-point halftime lead. Hamilton had
20 points and the Pistons held Atlanta to 34 percent shooting.
The Pistons have become renowned for third-quarter collapses, so
they saw their recovery from the Hawks’ early surge as a
”We didn’t panic when they made their run,” Villanueva said.
”There have been too many times this year when we’ve been in that
situation and let it get away from us.”
Detroit led 64-61 going into the fourth. The Pistons went back
ahead by double figures on Tracy McGrady’s 3-pointer that made it
74-63 with 8:10 left. McGrady, who came into the game with two
3-pointers all season, had four in the fourth quarter.
”I just haven’t been shooting 3s this year – that’s not
normally a big part of my game,” he said. ”Tonight, though, they
were giving me open looks, and once I hit the first couple, the
basket just looked huge.”
The Hawks came apart down the stretch, allowing Detroit to pull
away for the easy win.
”We hung in there, but it seemed like nothing was going our way
and then it got out of hand quickly,” Atlanta point guard Mike
Bibby said. ”They hit three or four 3s in a row, and then it was
just a rampage that we couldn’t stop.”
Notes: Kuester juggled his rotation yet again, with Jason
Maxiell going from the starting lineup to out of the rotation.
Instead, Detroit started post players Ben Wallace and Greg Monroe
together for the first time. ”The rotation is going to always
change because of fouls or injuries, but we liked the way this
group played,” Kuester said. … While Horford was putting up his
double-double for the Hawks, his brother Jon was an hour away,
putting up nine points and nine rebounds for Michigan in its 64-44
win over North Carolina Central. … The end of the game was
delayed for a few minutes after the Palace crew released streamers
with 0.2 seconds still left on the clock.