It wasn't always pretty, but the Atlanta Hawks pulled together long enough to snap a two game slide with a 94-79 victory over the Detroit Pistons. Josh Smith once again came up very big for the Hawks with 27 points and 14 rebounds with the only blemish on his stat line being the five turnovers that he committed. As good as Smith was in this one, I thought it was Mike Bibby that set the tone. After the Hawks struggled to get high percentage looks in their last two games, it appeared that Bibby made a concerted effort himself to get the ball inside. His performance last night again underscores the kind of affect a strong game from the point guard can have on a team. Bibby finished with 17 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds in 39 minutes of action. While it is foolish to expect that kind of performance on a regular basis from Bibby in this stage of his career, he came up big when the team clearly needed him.
If you look at the numbers from this contest, Atlanta outclassed the Pistons. What the numbers don't show is that Detroit actually held a fifteen point lead in the first half of this game before a Bibby led comeback brought the Hawks from the edge of the cliff. Truth is the bench once again struggled big time in this game. Other than Marvin Williams 15 points and 8 rebounds, there was very little to get excited about. It was so bad in the first half, that coach Drew elected to only go with Williams and Jamal Crawford off the bench in the second half.
Crawford put up one of his most interesting lines of the season and his short Hawks career by playing 30 minutes and going 1-2 from the field. He finished with four points, two rebounds, two assists, and three turnovers. That is a lot of minutes for a small amount of production especially when you take into account his defensive deficiencies. Jamal is a game changer when he is scoring, but the Hawks bench is weak even when he is in Sixth Man of the Year mode. When he goes four straight games without scoring in double figures like his current streak, then the Hawks bench becomes a ticking time bomb.
In addition to Mike Bibby and Josh Smith's heroics, the real difference was made on the glass. The Hawks out rebounded the Pistons 39-26. Six of the Pistons ten offensive rebounds came in the first quarter. Once Atlanta started holding Detroit to one shot, then they had no hope of outscoring a good shooting Hawks team.
This was a big win considering the turmoil of a two game losing streak that was mired with trade talk and potential lineup changes. No the Pistons aren't a great team having a great season, but the game was at the Palace where historically Atlanta hasn't enjoyed a lot of success. It is a win that doesn't really answer any of the questions from last week. However, it does allow the team to take a slight step back from the edge of the cliff and move on into the season's longest road trip.