The Atlanta Hawks came up short on Thursday night against the Detroit Pistons, 105-91, at Philips Arena.
The Hawks were led by Ersan Ilyasova’s 23 points while John Collins added 15 points.
For the Pistons, they were led by Andre Drummond’s near triple double, 12 points, 19 rebounds and eight assists (“Call me ‘Santa Dre’, I’m handing out gifts...” said Drummond postgame, great quote) while Tobias Harris added 19 points as Detroit snapped their seven game losing streak.
Second/third quarter woes
The key stretch in this game was the second quarter, just in the run-up to halftime.
After going very cold in the second quarter, the Hawks found some rhythm and made some shots. They trailed the Pistons by just five points (51-46) with just over two minutes remaining.
From there, however, things went downhill.
The Pistons would hit two threes and Langston Galloway would hit a shot with a hair left on the clock before the half while the Hawks couldn’t get anything to go down. A five point deficit quickly turned into a 13 point hole at the half as the Pistons outscored the Hawks 29-15.
Similar to the Cleveland game, the Pistons made a quick start to the quarter and the Hawks didn’t. As a result, the Hawks quickly found themselves down by 20 points and that was effectively it — they never found a way back into the game, and the second half turned into a drag with extended garbage time minutes for Tyler Dorsey, Malcolm Delaney and Tyler Cavanaugh (who wasn’t part of the rotation with Collins coming back into the fray).
If third quarter was the final nail in the coffin, the second quarter was the hammer blow.
The Hawks shot 33% in the quarter, partly because the Pistons played some good defense and partly because the Hawks just couldn’t hit shots. They had some pretty good looks, often too, but they just wouldn’t fall.
Here’s an example (and there were many of these for good three-point shooters like Bazemore and Ilyasova): Taurean Prince — who shoots the three above 40% — misses an open three:
“I think we made an effort to get stops,” said John Collins of the second quarter. “But, there was a lid on the rim. Certain stretches in the game where we moved the ball and got great shots. We made a great effort, but some days the shots aren’t going to drop.”
Some good Pistons D also kept the Hawks to the perimeter (the Hawks only scored 30 points in the paint:
Both sides commented on the second quarter, with Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer acknowledging his side just wasn’t good enough in the second period.
“I think the second quarter, obviously, we just didn’t play well enough,” said Bud postgame. “We didn’t play well enough for the last three or four minutes of the first quarter. From that point on, we were playing from behind. They executed well, they defended well. They did a lot of things, after a really good start for us. A little bit frustrating in that we started out well and it didn’t stay that way for long enough. The great thing about the NBA, we have a game tomorrow. Keep our heads up, get ready to go get on a plane, go to Memphis and play tomorrow.”
Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy, meanwhile, was happier with his side’s improved defensive work — after conceding 31 points in the first quarter — and was happy with his offense.
“I thought we were better defensively after the first quarter, and we were pretty good offensively all night,” said SVG. “So, I thought we played well against this team. I’ve seen their last few games. They’re playing everybody close. I think we played very well tonight against a team that has been playing well.”
Had the Hawks made a few of those shots in the second quarter, this is a completely different game in the third and possibly the fourth. But it’s a make-or-miss league: you make shots, you win. You miss shots, you lose. Sometimes it’s as simple as that.
The return of John Collins
John Collins made his return to the court after missing the last six games with a shoulder injury and it looked like he hadn’t missed a beat, scoring 15 points on 7-of-10 minutes and seven minutes in 20 minutes.
And Collins wasted no time doing the things that he did before the injury: bringing the energy and being active on the glass:
Coach Bud was clearly delighted to have his rookie back and all that he brings to the table.
“It was great to see John back on the court,” said coach Bud of Collins. “He brings an athleticism. He brings a pop. Going to the offensive boards, the ability to put pressure on the rim, the pick-and-roll game and the lob game, and defensively. For his first game back, (I’m) really pleased with how he played. We’ll keep ramping him up, but it’s great to have him back, no doubt.”
Collins himself was happy to be back and seemed to relish the opportunity to test out his shoulder against the physical Pistons.
“It felt great to get back on the court to test my body out to see if I’m back to feeling 100%,” said Collins. “I feel like I was; it was good to run up and down the court again.”
“It (the shoulder) feels good,” said Collins. “Obviously, to come out and have to battle physical guys with Detroit. Testing my shoulder out to see if it was really back to 100 (percent). It was definitely a good game to come back and test it out.”
As a coming back gift, Collins finally got his poster. He’s been knocking on the door all season for a poster and he got one: Luke Kennard the unfortunate victim:
Wrong place, wrong time.
Interesting AP photo from the NBA tonight -- at least for @WakeMBB fans, maybe not so much for @DukeMBB fans -- John Collins over Luke Kennard (but Kennard's Pistons team won) pic.twitter.com/YE4X1jgjsq— Bob Sutton (@tnBobSutton) December 15, 2017
Poster. #TrueToAtlanta pic.twitter.com/Tgd9cXZHRZ— JJ (@JameelahJNBA) December 15, 2017
And that is what we call being ‘Baptised’.
John ‘The Baptist’ Collins is back, and back with a bang.
The struggles of Dennis Schröder (and literally everyone else)
We just talked about John Collins: he was only one of two (2!!) players to score in double digits for the Hawks — Ersan Ilyasova scored 23 points.
Outside of those two players, everyone else struggled.
Kent Bazemore: eight points on 2-of-10 shooting
Taurean Prince: four points on 1-of-7 shooting from the field and 1-of-5 from three
Miles Plumlee: scoreless (not that you’d expect much scoring from Plum anyways)
Marco Belinelli: five points in just 10 minutes of action
DeAndre’ Bembry: scoreless
And then there’s the Hawks’ leading scorer, Dennis Schröder, who scored just nine points on 3-of-7 shooting.
A lot of credit has to go to the Pistons for this because they, very smartly (not sure why more teams don’t do this more often) decided to double/show Schröder off of pick-and-rolls, preventing him from turning the corner, going downhill and forced him to give the ball up.
Here, it’s Anthony Tolliver who extends the pressure to Dennis:
Schröder finds Ilyasova, who exploits the mismatch in this instance but it very rarely ended up this way...
Here, Drummond prevents Schröder from turning the corner. Dennis tries to make a play but carelessly throws the ball away:
Hugely effective strategy by the Pistons and well executed: Schröder had no real bearing on this game (and his body language didn’t look great at times).
In general — outside of Ilyasova and Collins — no one played well.
Hawks unveil ‘City’ jerseys at halftime
At halftime, rapper Jeezy unveiled the Hawks’ new ‘City’ jersey as he performed at Philips at halftime (hopefully more folk were around then than they were at the beginning of the game, whoo boy, attendance was not great).
Here it is:
Exactly the same as the leaked version in NBA 2k18, so if you don’t like Jeezy’s chain and limbs in the way of the jersey, here you go (it’s in there somewhere. You’re better off checking the tweet itself and enlarging the images but you may as well check out the other rumoured City jersey’s, some humdingers there):
I took a pic of some of the other teams #NBA2K18 #Nike #uniforms pic.twitter.com/0KA2FZgSMh— Johnathan Parks (@JayTeeP216) December 14, 2017
No idea when we’ll see these on the court but when they do they should be awesome. If they’re only being worn four times though...that would be criminal.
I personally think they’re very nice. What do you make of it?
The worst/best halfcourt shot
Not too long after the last halfcourt shot made at Philips, another one was made. This, however, was... Well, I’ll let you judge:
"A little sidewinder. Nothing but the bottom. GET PAID." #TrueToAtlanta pic.twitter.com/TSejBcHRwh— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) December 15, 2017
That should never, ever go in. Ever. But it did, and it made this man $10,000. Happy Holidays!
Sadly, that was literally the most Hawks fans had to cheer last night — and for those in attendance, the loudest the fans cheered...
The loudest moment of the evening. Not even remotely close. https://t.co/XXKhKIiZYa— Brad Rowland (@BTRowland) December 15, 2017
The Hawks (6-22) are back in action tonight in Memphis against the Grizzlies, who are flailing just as hard as the Hawks at 8-20. Should be interesting, indeed...