After Sunday afternoon, the Atlanta Hawks will not return to Philips Arena for more than two weeks but the “first half” of the campaign ended on a high note. The Detroit Pistons were in town for the matinee and, after a 48-minute, back-and-forth battle, the home team emerged victorious by a final score of 118-115.
The first quarter was relatively kind to the Hawks, especially on the offensive end, and the opening moments featured a few highlights. First, Dewayne Dedmon posterized Reggie Bullock with a memorable throwdown.
Then, John Collins (as you may expect) got into the act.
In general, the offense was clicking in the first 12 minutes, with a 113.7 offensive rating for Atlanta. Defensively, the Hawks also held their own and, for the most part, the second quarter included strong performance from the home team.
Atlanta used seven consecutive points to take a 44-38 lead and the Hawks led by as many as nine points before halftime. On cue, though, the Pistons spurted to the end of the half in the form of a 10-2 run and, in a weird twist, the Hawks went into the break trailing by a 56-55 margin.
Ersan Ilyasova led the team in scoring with 12 points before halftime but the Hawks were generally unable to contain Bullock (18 points on eight attempts) and that defensive hiccup cost them to some degree. Still, Atlanta performed well on the whole, providing some optimism as the third quarter arrived.
That optimism existed for portions of the third quarter but, near the end of the period, things flew off the rails for the Hawks. The Pistons used a 10-2 run to overcome a nine-point deficit and, early in the fourth quarter, Detroit pushed their advantage to six points with a flurry of quality offense.
The Hawks fought valiantly from there, closing the gap to one point on multiple occasions and, eventually, taking the lead on a Dewayne Dedmon lay-up with 1:34 to play. After the veteran big man converted a free throw to cap a three-point play, the Hawks led by a 109-107 margin. From there, Pistons guard Jameer Nelson delivered an airball and, on the other end, it was Dedmon again, knocking down a three to push the home team in front by five points 56 seconds to go.
Blake Griffin, who struggled offensively for much of the night, then converted a three to place things back in peril for Atlanta. After an empty possession, the Hawks received the benefit of a carom that sent the ball out of bounds, allowing Atlanta to inbound in a must-foul situation for Detroit.
That sent Dennis Schröder to the free throw line with the game in the balance at 19.5 seconds remaining and the point guard converted both attempts to reinstall the Hawks with a four-point lead. Griffin (on a quick bucket) and Schröder (on free throws) then exchanged two-point possessions and the Pistons were left with 9.2 seconds to close the four-point gap. In the end, they were unable to do so and the Hawks escaped with the win.
Dewayne Dedmon, replacing Miles Plumlee as the team’s starting center, enjoyed a big afternoon, scoring 20 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. In support, Schröder added 23 points and seven assists, with Atlanta’s roster boasting six players in double figures.
The Hawks will be back in action on Tuesday evening, when the team hits the road to take on the Milwaukee Bucks. Stay tuned.