Initial Reaction: Hawks 94, Pistons 79

Quick Thought: Marvin Williams---7th Man of the Year?

Summary:

When the Pistons' Charlie Villanueva  made a shot to put the Pistons up 41-26 with 7:28 seconds left in the first half, it wouldn't have been shocking to peer inside the mind of a Hawks fan to see him/her rolling their eyes, wondering if the Hawks would ever find their mojo again.

Over the next 31 1/2 minutes, the Hawks would outplay the Pistons to a 68-38 advantage, and showed that they can still knock out an inferior opponent, and extended their road record to 17-11.

Yes, it's no great accomplishment to drill the 5th worst defensive team in the league, but it's an accomplishment all the game. As a great sage once claimed, it is better to win than to not.

The Pistons used good ball movement and the ability to knock down open three point shots to take that one-time advantage. Too often the Hawks would get lost (Damien Wilkins, Jamal Crawford, Josh Smith--we saw you!) on screens or just simple side to side ball movement and leave Austin Daye, Charlie V, or Ben Gordon open and those guys made the Hawks pay.

After the Pistons went back to their starters, and the Hawks did the same, save for Marvin Williams in for Jason Collins, the Hawks went on lopsided runs of  10-2 and 15-3 to take the lead into halftime. 

Whatever the Pistons said to each other at halftime didn't help, as Atlanta blitzed the Pistons further to start the second half with an 8-0 run, giving the Hawks a 10 point lead. To get there the Hawks used outside shots by Josh Smith and drives to the hoop by Mike Bibby. (I'll wait a second for Bret LaGree to stop throwing up.) 

Seriously though, the Hawks began to do two things that changed the game for the better. Staying at home on defense, thereby limiting the open looks the Pistons had to choose from, and defensive rebounding. 

Apart from the open bombs the Pistons were using to make up for their atrocious defensive "effort", they were getting plenty of extra opportunities thanks to Ben Wallace and a treasure chest full of offensive rebounds. During their opening run to take that early 15 point lead, they had (7) offensive rebounds in (16 1/2) minutes. Six of those were in the first quarter alone. For the remaining 31 1/2 minutes, they snagged only (3) and soon the Hawks 57-39 percent advantage led the Hawks past their hosts and on to victory.

The Stars:

Hey, Bret can lampoon about its un-sustainability, but Josh Smith was making those outside shots again tonight. Smith must have read the Hoopinion tweet that, no matter the result, Smith's productivity against the Bobcats did NOT equal a good game and took that as a dare. Smith upped the ante from the previous game and went 7-11 from 16 feet and beyond to make up the majority of his 11-17, 27 point extravaganza. More importantly, Smith pulled down 14 rebounds, 10 of which came in the second half and 4 were offensive.

Talk about un-sustainability....there is no way that Mike Bibby can play 39 minutes a night on this entire road trip, but against the Pistons perimeter "defense", it worked. Bibby made half of his three point attempts (3-6) and went past the overplaying Rodney Stuckey to score three layups as well. Adding 6 rebounds and 7 assists against 2 turnovers made the most of his time. Only Will Bynum seemed to be interested in making Bibby pay defensively, and he played 12 of his 20 minutes in the fourth quarter with the Pistons on empty.

Love seeing Marvin Williams taking the ball to the rim. The man has a knack for getting to the line, but hasn't used it as much this season, but tonight he went 8-8 from the line. From the 4:53 mark of the second quarter through the end of the game, Williams was 2-4, 8-8, and grabbed all (7) of his rebounds. 

Also:

Stat line of the night: Jamal Crawford: 30 minutes, 1-2 shooting, 2-2 FT, 2 assists, 2 rebounds, a steal, and 3 turnovers. He played 30 minutes in a game the Hawks won by 15 and still posted a -3 for the night. That he might have been gun shy after a 1-9 performance against Charlotte that facilitated that loss is....I don't know how to describe it. You want him to show restraint if he's not hot shooting, because therein lies his only value, but 2 shots in 30 minutes means he's doing an awful lot of nothing over that time. My attempt at a bottom line: Nothing is better than something extremely negative like Saturday night?

Al Horford came out of the game after 3 quarters and never returned, giving his back a much needed rest after 40+ minutes Saturday night and as they are on this grinding road trip. Still, it's hard not to want to see more of Al when he piles up such numbers (10 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists) in that small amount of time. 

Horford authored my two favorite plays of the night: A beautiful baseline spin move and two handed slam and a "where you going" stuff of Greg Monroe's layup. Bossy.

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