The Atlanta Hawks battled the Detroit Pistons for the second time in the past four days on Wednesday night, this time in Detroit. Atlanta sneaked by the Pistons in a 118-115 comeback thriller on Sunday, featuring late game heroics from Dewayne Dedmon. The rematch was not so familiar, however.
With Dennis Schroder (lower back tightness), Kent Bazemore (rest) and Ersan Ilyasova (right shoulder sprain) unavailable to play, the Atlanta Hawks starting lineup lacked some familiar faces tonight. Dewayne Dedmon, Malcolm Delaney, and Taurean Prince started along side rookie guard Tyler Dorsey (first career NBA start), while fellow rookie John Collins drew his fifth career start. New G-League call-up Andrew White also made his NBA debut off the bench for Atlanta.
The Detroit Pistons got off to an rather slow start, with four turnovers and two baskets more than four minutes into the game against the young Atlanta lineup. The Hawks led 12-5 before Blake Griffin hit two mid-quarter three-pointers, helping Detroit ultimately take control early. Atlanta struggled to find open shots against a stout Pistons defense, shooting 27.3 percent in the first. Detroit closed the quarter on a 17-2 run and led 22-14 after the first.
The second quarter was very similar to the last six minutes of the first. Atlanta struggled to create open looks and Detroit stayed reliant on the three-point shot for offense. Detroit shot only 38.1 percent for the half but it was enough for a 12-point lead as the Hawks failed to score 20 points for the fourth time in their past five quarters, going back to Tuesday’s game in Milwaukee. The Hawks trailed the Pistons 45-33 at half.
Ish Smith posted 12 points and six assists while Griffin scored ten points (3-for-4 from three-point range). White scored seven points in nine minutes off the bench and Dedmon posted a solid eight points and seven rebounds to lead Atlanta in the first half.
Detroit started the second half on another 17-2 run as the Hawks continued to struggle on offense. Detroit jumped out to a 30-point lead as the Hawks faltered on both ends of the floor. White was again the lone bright spot in the third, hitting two three-pointers in the third with eight more points, giving him 15 points (6-for-10 from the floor) in his first 13 minutes in the Association.
Detroit came out slow yet again in the fourth, allowing the Hawks to sneak back into the game down the stretch. Atlanta got as close as four in the fourth, outscoring the Pistons 37-22 in the final period. The Hawks’ youth and energy got them out in transition as they out-hustled the opponent for the majority of the quarter, but they fell short, 104-98.
Playing without three starters is a tall task for any NBA team, but especially a young one, as Atlanta’s youth was evident for much of the game tonight. It was a great debut for newcomer Andrew White, who finished with 15 points off the bench in 17 minutes. Collins posted another double-double with 11 points, ten rebounds and two blocks, while Prince scored 14 (11 in the fourth quarter).
The Hawks go in to the All-Star Break with a record of 18-41, worst in the Eastern Conference. While Atlanta lacks an All-Star, you can check out John Collins and Taurean Prince in the Rising Stars game Friday night at 9 PM. Atlanta will be back in action next Thursday in Indianapolis for a matchup with the Pacers.