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Hawks fall to Pistons in third preseason game as starting backcourt sits

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They had a strong start but fell behind in an ugly second quarter and never made it close down the stretch.

NBA: Preseason-Atlanta Hawks at Detroit Pistons Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Hawks lost their third preseason game on Friday night 109-87 to fall to a record of 1-2 in exhibition play. They matched the play of the Pistons until they got into the middle of the second quarter when Detroit created some separation and never looked back.

If you are afraid of what this team might look like should they lose Dennis Schroder for any extended time this season, this game might have provided a glimpse of that. The Hawks sat both members of their starting back court as well as their most experienced wing player in Marco Belinelli.

The good news in this game is that the Hawks did something they struggled to do all of last season: outproduce their opponent at the 3-point line. The Hawks converted 14 of their 36 3-point attempts, a performance that would probably be acceptable in any of their games in the coming regular season.

They were able to limit the Pistons to just 25 attempts from deep. While Detroit was an impressive 44% from the 3-point line with 11 makes, the work the Hawks did to chase shooters off of the line was more than acceptable.

Malcolm Delaney had a strong showing playing 24 minutes with the make-shift first unit. He had 15 points on 11 shooting possessions including hitting 2 of his 3 attempts from three point range.

Taurean Prince had another steady offensive performance with 10 points on 8 shooting possessions in just 17 minutes of play. The second year wing has put together encouraging back-to-back games after struggling mightily in the preseason opener in Miami on Sunday.

It was also encouraging to see John Collins play in this game after seeing him leave Wednesday’s game versus Cleveland with an injured shoulder. He was active in 20 minutes of play with 10 field goal attempts and 6 rebounds. He missed 4 of his 6 free throw attempts. But opponents continue to struggle to keep the rookie away from the rim without fouling his thus far in the preseason.

Nicolas Brussino tried to help chase down the Pistons by hitting 3 of his 4 3-point attempts in the 4th quarter but it was not enough to close the gap.

In the end, it was the defense that let them down as they played first and second year players almost exclusively at the point guard and wing positions. John Jenkins played 12 minutes and while he is not a first or second year player he is very unlikely to make this roster and his defensive play is what continues to keep him on the fringe of the NBA as a player.

DeAndre’ Bembry saw his first action of the season in this game. He missed on all 4 of his field goal attempts but did contribute 5 rebounds 4 assists and a steal. He offered the most defensive resistance of any of the Hawks’ back-court players in this game, a role he is expected to play from the bench througout his second NBA season.

The Pistons were able to get a ton of comfortable looks from mid-range and veteran guard Avery Bradley (18 points) and veteran swing forward Tobais Harris (17 points) helped lead the charge. Seven-year veteran and journeyman point guard Ish Smith refused to let the Hawks get a foot in the door down the stretch making all 7 of his field goal attempts in the second half. He also compiled 8 assists in the game and had a +26 net rating in 27 minutes of play.

The Hawks will resume exhibition play on Monday night versus the Memphis Grizzlies with their first home appearance. They will be playing in Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavillion. The first game in the renovated Philips Arena will not be until their home opener on October 27 versus Paul Millsap and the Denver Nuggets.