After two road losses in New York and Cleveland, the Atlanta Hawks returned with a bounce-back on their minds on Thursday evening. After a positive first quarter, that optimism quickly faded, though, and the final result was a 105-91 defeat that was not in doubt over the final minutes.
The early going was dominated by offense and, sadly for Atlanta, that was the case on both ends. The Hawks began the evening by making six of their first seven shots (including three from long distance) and the team assisted on its first six buckets. From there, the offense slowed a bit (as you may expect) and the defense suffered some issues in allowing 30 first-quarter points to the visitors.
Still, it was a positive start to the evening, including the appearance in two weeks from rookie big man John Collins. While he did not start (and was on a minutes restriction), Collins made an immediate impact on the offensive end and, in general, it was a simple positive to see him on the floor once again.
The second quarter was far less kind to Atlanta, however, as the Pistons scored the first eight points and didn’t slow down much from there. In fact, the Hawks didn’t score for nearly five minutes at the outset until, well, Collins ended that with authority.
Still, it was a 12-minute catastrophe from the Hawks, as they managed to implode to the tune of a 13-point deficit at the halftime break. Offensively, the ball movement and passing disappeared and, on the other end, the Pistons managed to continue scoring at will to establish full control before Jeezy took the floor to debut Atlanta’s “City” uniforms during the break.
The Hawks were not particularly inspired by the halftime festivities, however, as the Pistons asserted their will immediately in the second half and didn’t waver. Detroit scored the first seven of the third quarter and built their lead to 22 in short order. Atlanta did put together a mini-run to cut the margin back to 15 but the Pistons were able to stiff-arm their way to a 21-point lead after 36 minutes of clock time.
Down the stretch, there were moments of interest, as Tyler Dorsey and Tyler Cavanaugh appeared for the first time and the Hawks competed at a slightly higher level. Still, the margin never approached single digits on the way to the final 14-point deficit.
From an individual standpoint, the two standout performances came from Collins and Ersan Ilyasova. The youngster produced 15 points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes of action during his return and Ilyasova had another big night with 23 points on 10 of 14 shooting to lead the way in scoring. Elsewhere, though, there wasn’t much to write home about in a positive way and that was doubly apparent on the scoreboard.
Despite the loss, though, we’ll always have this.
The Hawks return to action Friday night in Memphis. Stay tuned.