Quick Thought: Hawks don't win without Jeff Teague attacking and Josh Smith hitting his shots. But they did and they did.
What can be said -- the Hawks attacked the Pistons with guard penetration into the lane to consistently set up baskets. This always kept the Pistons at arms length, but the pesky guests stayed close by doing the exact same thing to the Hawks, primarily with Rodney Stuckey.
There were times when it seemed like Mike Bibby was back in a Hawks uniform the way Stuckey was easily getting to the rim. His game-high 27 points came on 22 shots in 29 minutes. Basically, the Pistons offense became, "Here you go, Rodney -- we'll be over here if you need us." Sadly for Detroit, when it ceased to be that, the offense suffered.
But the Hawks did more than Detroit, from making more field goals, rebounding more, turning the ball over less and garnering assists. Whoa boy, the Hawks had another 30 assist night, their sixth on the season. The ball moved so well, especially from Teague, who had a number of nice feeds to cutters around the basket tonight.
The Pistons did evaporate the lead Atlanta had going into the final quarter, but Smith, Teague and Ivan Johnson all came through along with a usual Joe Johnson killer swish sauce down the stretch to win 101-96.
Jeff Teague deserves one for his season highs with 24 points and 11 assists. He was so much better than Kirk Hinrich, Jannero Pargo and Willie Green tonight that even Marvin Williams played down the stretch and Joe slid back to shooting guard. Five steals, only two turnovers and a fantastic block.
It's old hat and he probably doesn't have anymore room for them, but another game ball has to go to Josh Smith. Smith played under control, was a noticeable leader on the floor and produced time and time again. With the shot clock winding down, Josh hit jump shot after jump shot. He ran the floor hard, cashing in when the backcourt could get him the ball. He ripped the ball out of Detroit's hands for one of his six offensive rebounds on the night and ended the contest with a typical 22 point, 12 rebounds, four assist, three block effort. Ho-hum, another All-Star level game from the man who wasn't one.
Finally, there was something a bit amiss about Zaza Pachulia tonight. A step slow, if Zaza were a car from the 1980's, he'd need a tune up. Fortunately, Ivan Johnson was able to come in and play the aggressive, charge-taking, strong finishing brand of basketball that should have Rick Sund looking to lock him down for next season as well. Ivan had 16 points, six rebounds on 8-12 shooting.
Hey, does anybody believe that Acie Law IV will ever become the Hawk Hater Rodney Stuckey is today? Just checkin'.
Stuckey wasn't the only Piston guard getting it done against Atlanta tonight: Will Bynum had 15 on 7-12 shooting and rookie Brandon Knight scored 13, going five of eight from the floor.
Currently the fifth seed in the East, one and one half games behind Indiana and the Hawks own the tiebreaker. Are you feeling it?