This... wasn't the best start for the Atlanta Hawks. Mike Budenholzer's team did not perform particularly well in any single aspect on Tuesday night, and even with a relatively uninspiring opponent on the premises in the Detroit Pistons, the showing put forth by Atlanta was not enough to secure a victory as the visiting Pistons grabbed a 106-94 win.
Though the Peachtree Hoops crew was, perhaps, rattled by the notion that Tim Hardaway Jr. was inactive, the Hawks should not have been blindsided in the same way. However, the Pistons came roaring out of the locker room with a 20-10 start on the road, and Detroit converted 8 of their first 11 shots overall, including the first three attempts they launched from beyond the arc. To make things more interesting, the Hawks deployed Lamar Patterson (!) ahead of Justin Holiday on the depth chart with first-quarter minutes, and in general, things got weird.
Fortunately, Paul Millsap still exists, and the All-Star power forward got off to a hot start with 10 points (on 4-4 FG) in the first eight minutes. In fact, the Hawks closed the gap on Detroit with a flourish to close the quarter, as the home team put together a 9-0 run to tie the game after 12 minutes. From there, Atlanta would actually extend that run to 14-0 to claim a five-point lead to begin the second period, but that was the end of the positive momentum prior to halftime.
The Pistons would rally with strong play for the rest of the second quarter, eventually claiming a five-point halftime lead. Though it wasn't disastrous for Atlanta, the Hawks scuffled a bit offensively, posting just seven assists against eight turnovers, and on the defensive end, the team allowed Detroit to make 8 of 15 attempts from three-point distance.
The third quarter was, well, not ideal for the team in volt green. Detroit scored the first five points of the second half, and in the blink of an eye, the Pistons opened up an 18-point lead with a 21-8 charge out of the gate. It was a big quarter from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (who had 19 points through three quarters), but in total, Atlanta's defense was lacking (34 points on 24 FGA in the quarter) and the shots weren't falling for the good guys on the other end.
While there were some faint signs of life at times (including a 6-0 run that brought the deficit to just 12), the Hawks were never able to put together the big-time run needed to climb back into the game in realistic fashion. Detroit's shooting proved to be the difference, as the Pistons knocked down 12 of their 29 three-point field goals (even with six consecutive misses to end the night) while Atlanta struggled on the way to a 8 for 27 clip, and even Atlanta's faint late charge (cutting the lead to 6 ith less than a minute remaining) fell flat.
Atlanta's regular season debut certainly did not leave the best impression on the folks in attendance and those who were watching remotely, but it is, of course, simply one regular season NBA contest. Dennis Schröder (20 points in 26 minutes) and Paul Millsap (19 points, 8 rebounds) performed quite well, shots simply didn't fall and the defensive weakness (on the glass and in preventing three-point attempts) reared their ugly heads.
The Hawks will be back in action on Thursday evening in New York, as they take on the Knicks on national television, and following that contest, Atlanta will return to Philips Arena on Friday evening. Stay tuned.