The Atlanta Hawks captured a much needed 99-89 win over the Detroit Pistons Friday night and snapped a two-game losing streak in the process. After two straight disappointing losses, Mike Budenholzer was looking for a better focus defensively and more effort at rebounding the basketball. The Hawks did just that holding the Pistons to just 37 percent shooting for the game and came away with a 46-45 rebounding advantage.
"It's good for our group to have a good first quarter, have a defensive second quarter that allowed us to get a little bit of separation," said Budenholzer after the game."We're still a long way from playing 48 minutes the we'd like to play. There were a lot of good stretches tonight."
Atlanta built a 19-point lead in the third quarter only to see the Pistons come roaring back to tie the game in the fourth. Given the Hawks recent struggles it was a critical moment, but they didn't falter and were able to maintain their composure and finish out the game strongly.
"We said 'we have to get stops and I think we have to execute offensively and stick with what got us up 19. Just keep our poise,' said Budenholzer. "Our players did that and it's a credit to them."
Jeff Teague played a huge part in slamming the door shut on Detroit's comeback attempt. Teague scored 11 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter. He finished 9-15 from the field and a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line but it was his effort defensively that drew praise from Budenholzer.
"Jeff Teague was very good. A lot of people talk about his points and his offense, but I thought his defense was very good on the ball. They run a ton of pick-and-rolls. I'm really pleased with Jeff's effort, particularly on the defensive end of the court."
"I think our team was just being aggressive offensively," said Teague. They made a big run in the third, and we continued to keep playing with pace and energy."
The Hawks needed a good defensive effort to secure the victory particularly with their struggles from three-point range and at the free throw line. Atlanta connected on just 5-24 three-point attempts and were an uncharacteristic 18-26 at the free throw line. Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll combined to go 6-14 at the charity stripe.
Its tough to characterize games in November as must-wins but Friday's game sure felt that way for the Hawks. Especially with a big week ahead.