With Zaza Pachulia was sidelined with a tight Achilles tendon, Larry Drew deployed a more conventional starting lineup by pairing the Hawks Big 3 with DeShawn Stevenson and Kyle Korver. As a result, Al Horford, Josh Smith and Jeff Teague powered the Atlanta Hawks past the Detroit Pistons 114-103.
There was no question where the Detroit Pistons go for offense. In the first quarter, the Pistons outscored the Hawks 18-4 in the paint. They finished with a 66-26 margin but their poor perimeter defense allowed this to be a non-factor. Devin Harris hit a couple of three pointer to help the Hawks match the Pistons low post presence.
Dahntay Jones also saw time in the first quarter off the bench. He was able to hit his first bucket in a Hawks uniform in the second quarter. Jeff Teague and Rodney Stuckey matched up other with numerous run-out layups in the first half. Al Horford was near automatic in the first half going 6-7 with 13 points and 13 rebounds, including 5 offensive.
The Hawks defense was able to throw the Pistons’ offense out of rhythm in the second half, and they never even sniffed the lead from that point on. The Atlanta Hawks are simply in another league. It’s unfortunate to see the Pistons struggle so badly but there was clearly a more talented team on the floor tonight.
The Hawks assisted on 31 of 40 made buckets and broke down the Detroit defense with ease. Per usual, there was a high reliance on three point shots, but they were flying through the net with a high frequency.
This is the fifth win in six games for the Hawks, with the lone loss in Miami against the World Champions. There were numerous good signs, despite the weaker competition. The speed and aggressiveness of the point guards and the accuracy of the shooters is something that will carry the Hawks to success or failure in the months ahead. Make no mistake, the Hawks’s foundation rests firmly in its pillars in the paint: Al Horford and Josh Smith. When those two can use their athleticism and chemistry with one another, there are few defenses that can slow them down.
The Atlanta Hawks have risen to the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, pushing past the Brooklyn Nets. Within sight are the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks, both no more than 2 1/2 games ahead of Atlanta. If the Hawks can repeat this type of performance, they may find themselves near the very top of the conference.
1. Al Horford: He has been on a tear in recent games but this is his finest performance to date. He finished with a monster line of 23 points and 22 rebounds. Over the last 6 games, Horford has shot 69% (65/94) in the last 6 games. Al Horford even drained his fourth career three pointer in the state he attended high school.
2. Jeff Teague: He continues to push the pace in tandem with Devin Harris. He continued a streak of 9 straight games with at least 8 assists and finished one off his career high in that category.
3. Josh Smith: Rounding out the Hawks Big 3 is J Smoove. He started slow but finished very strong. Like the other two, he surpassed 20 points and added 7 rebounds, 4 assists and good defense like always.