Pistons Beat Hawks at Board Game

By Vershawne Pennyamon | 4/9/2014, 9:21 a.m.

Holding onto the lead versus the Detroit Pistons proved to be just as difficult as holding onto the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoffs spot for the Atlanta Hawks, following a 95-102 defeat.

“The way we started tonight we dug ourselves a hole,” Hawks’ Coach Mike Budenholzer said after the game last night. “I guess at one point we were able to come back and take the lead. But I think the energy and effort that it took to dig ourselves out the hole that was created in the first quarter really in a lot of ways was the game.”

Starting off the game, you could see why the Pistons are a top-3 rebounding team in the league, as they thoroughly cleaned the defensive and offensive glass.

Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe dominated the boards with 30 rebounds total, and about half were on the offensive end. These offensive rebounds resulted in second-chance points, as the Pistons owned the Hawks 26-9.

“The biggest challenge was boxing out and keeping the big bodies out of the hole (i.e. Drummond and Monroe),” Hawks’ Paul Millsap said.

Millsap had his hands full trying to keep up with the Pistons’ big men. He still managed to show why his is an All-Star forward, with 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 assists.

The Pistons’ guard Rodney Stuckey had a stellar game finishing off with another 29 points, providing a spark in the absence of forward Josh Smith. Stuckey went to the free throw line 14 times, making 12. This was more than half of the attempts than the Hawks had as a team. Drummond reached double-double status with19 points, along with his 17 rebounds but he struggled at the free throw line (5 for 11). Monroe finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds.

The Hawks’ Brand was able to stabilize Monroe, stating that he “sent him to the right, which is his non-dominant hand, and stayed between him and the basket.”

Brand had two ball-deflating blocks, which were crucial to a few runs for the Hawks.

The Pistons were leading the whole game, but the Hawks took a four-point lead in the fourth quarter with two huge 3’s by Korver and layups by Carroll and Millsap.

Early in the game, Kyle Korver reached the 1500 3-pt made mark. He finished with 1503.

Still, there were not enough shots falling and stops in the post for the Hawks to come away with the much-needed W.

The biggest storyline leading up to the game was a report coming out of Detroit that longtime and oft-criticized Pistons’ exec Joe Dumars is set to resign at the end of the season. This didn’t seem to slow the Pistons down instead it ignited a fire outscoring the Hawks 35-27 in the first quarter.

At halftime, Rodney Stuckey was impressive, going to the free throw line eight times compared to the Hawks as a whole (11). In addition, he went 4-6 from the field, as Brandon Jennings was virtually ineffective going 2-7 from the field, ending up with seven points on 30 percent shooting.

Even Kentavious Caldwell-Pope provided a spark in the second quarter, with a couple of big-time dunks, which started a run on the Hawks.

The Hawks are struggling on the offensive end missing open shots and not capitalizing on the turnovers. Many times, the Hawks ran sets without a PG, which shows how bad they missed another ball handler like Lou Williams (out with a hamstring injury), when Teague was resting.

You could see the struggles of the Hawks, when Millsap had to run the offense, during the resting periods of Teague.

The Hawks will look to rebound (no pun intended) versus the Celtics tonight, as the New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers look to takeover that final postseason spot.