Detroit Pistons end 3-game skid with victory over lowly Atlanta Hawks, 104-98
By DAVE HOGG
DETROIT — Ending a three-game losing streak wasn’t enough to make Stan Van Gundy happy.
Not after the Pistons made it much harder than necessary.
Detroit led by 30 points midway through the third quarter, but was outscored 59-35 in the final 17 minutes as Atlanta got as close as four before the Pistons held on for a 104-98 victory on Wednesday night in their final game before the All-Star break.
“We gave our bench a 30-point lead, and they didn’t even try at either end of the floor,” he said. “We should have been able to shut down our starters, but we had to bring them back, and they didn’t bring anything either.
“We left 15 minutes early for the break, but I’ll take the win and move on.”
Blake Griffin narrowly missed his first triple-double with the Pistons, finishing with 13 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists, but agreed with his coach that the end of the game wasn’t acceptable.
“We moved the ball and we played great defense to build the lead to 30,” he said. “But there’s no excuse for the way we played defense for the rest of the game. We were still OK on offense, but we missed a lot of open shots.”
Van Gundy thought his team’s poor shooting — 26.3 percent in the fourth quarter — cost Griffin his milestone.
“He probably should have had 14 or 15 assists, but we kept missing wide-open looks and layups,” Van Gundy said. “He was doing a great job of passing.”
Ish Smith had 22 points and nine assists, while Andre Drummond added 13 points and 15 rebounds. Detroit had seven players in double figures.
Andrew White III had 15 points for the Hawks in his NBA debut, while John Collins had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
“I’ve only had two shootarounds with the team, so I’ve been trying to memorize the video playbook they gave me,” White said. “I’ve worked as hard as I’ve ever worked over the last three days, just to get ready for the minute or two I thought I might play.”
The Hawks, who beat the Pistons 118-115 on Sunday, were missing three key players, including leading scorers Dennis Schroder and Kent Bazemore. Former Piston Ersan Ilyasova also sat out.
“It is pretty obvious that this was a night that didn’t look like it was going to go well for us as a group,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “It looked like they were going to pull away on us, but it is a credit to the character of these guys that they fought back and made it a game.”
Detroit led by 12 points at the half, then started the third quarter with its second 17-2 run of the game. That put the Pistons ahead by 25, and the margin was 30 before the Hawks finally broke 40 points with 5:20 left in the third.