Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
The Hawks had a big lead early and a big lead late, but the Pistons fought back in throughout the game behind an historic bench performance (85 points) led by 31 from Will Bynum. The Hawks proved too much in double overtime led by double-doubles from Josh Smith, Al Horford, and Jeff Teague.
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The Hawks took over the first quarter, taking a 28-13 lead, with Josh Smith scoring 14 points in the quarter. Atlanta used great defense to jump-start their offense and get out in transition. They forced seven turnovers (scoring eight points off them) and had 16 fast-break points in the first quarter. They limited the Pistons to 25% shooting in the quarter, while shooting 45.8% themselves.
The Hawks appeared to let off the defensive pressure in the second, allowing Detroit to shoot 50% in the second quarter. The Pistons bench provided a lift in the second and at the half the Detroit bench has 26 points (ATL bench has 12). The Hawks offense stayed consistent shooting-wise in the second quarter, but forced only two turnovers and six fast-break points. By playing more of a half-court style, the Hawks allowed the Pistons to take advantage of their size advantage to climb back in the game. Detroit out-rebounded the Hawks 15-8 (7-1 OR) and had eight second chance points.
The third quarter went much the way the first did, with Atlanta regaining their large lead, outscoring the Pistons 31-17 in the third to take an 81-62 lead into the fourth. Smoove added nine points to his 21 first half points, while Atlanta heated up from the field, shooting 76.5% in the quarter. The Hawks defense tightened up forcing three turnovers, but were able to get out on the break for 12 fast-break points in the quarter.
The Pistons, like they did in the second, charged back in the fourth quarter. Despite being down 19 points, Detroit’s guards kept plugging away and followed a red-hot Will Bynum on the come-back trail. The Hawks led all the way until Austin Daye hit a three-pointer with four seconds to play to put the Pistons up 101-100. Horford went to the line with 1.8 seconds to play after faking the hand-off to Kyle Korver and getting fouled taking it to the rim. Horford split the free throws and sent the game into overtime.
The first overtime period started like the fourth ended, with Will Bynum getting whatever shot he pleased and pushed the Pistons to a 108-104 advantage. The Hawks were able to get the game tied at 108 and push it to a second overtime.
Jeff Teague took over in the second overtime, scoring nine points and hit a three that gave the Hawks the lead for good. Kyle Korver hit a dagger three (after going 1-for-10) to give the Hawks a six-point cushion and they would ice it with free throws down the stretch to get the 126-119 victory.
Will Bynum caught fire, scoring 26 second half points (15 in the fourth quarter), and was the catalyst for the Pistons comeback. Andre Drummond was big as well, scoring 16 points and grabbing 12 rebounds and the bench scored 85 points, the most in the NBA in a decade. The Pistons out-rebounded the Hawks 62-47 (21-8 OR) and hit an incredible 14-of-27 (51.9%) three-point shots.
Josh Smith finished with 31 points, 10 boards, and six assists, but didn’t score in his final 18 minutes on the court. Al Horford had 22 points and 10 rebounds, but struggled again from the free throw line. Horford and Smith went 8-for-16 from the stripe and accounted for all eight Hawks missed free throws (most of those misses in crunch time). Lou Williams had 18 points, eight boards, and seven assists and had 14 in the second half and overtimes. Jeff Teague, who closed the game out, finished with 17 points, all in the second half and overtimes, along with 11 assists.
The Hawks moved the ball extremely well, assisting on 35 of their 46 made shots and turned the Pistons over 18 times (for 25 points) and had 36 fast-break points to Detroit’s nine. Once again, free throw shooting played a role as the Hawks were 23-of-31 (74.2%) from the stripe, but were able to overcome it. For Atlanta, they’ll take the win, but with a 22-point lead with 11 minutes to play, it was definitely a frustrating way to get what should have been an easy win.