DETROIT—Ten observations from Pistons 111, Hawks 104. . .
1. Give the Hawks credit for coming back from 19 points down to tie it in the final four minutes. They cranked up their defensive intensity after halftime and the Pistons didn’t respond well. But the Hawks had some hurried, frantic offensive possessions at winning time and Reggie Jackson buried them with two (open) three-pointers in the final minute.
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer: “Hopefully we can build off the second half. The way we played there is the way we need to play the whole game. It was just not good enough in the first half. . . . I think all the players would look at ourselves and say have got to be more active, more competitive, scrappy. You’ve got to to do that more individually and collectively and then you see in the second half when you do that you can see how it looks and feels.”
2. But the Hawks were down 57-41 at halftime because they couldn’t slow Detroit’s assault on the basket. Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith had little trouble getting into the lane against the Hawks. Really, all of Detroit’s ball-handlers got to the paint over and over and Hawks bigs didn’t offer much resistance when helping. The Pistons scored 32 of their first 57 first-half points in the paint.
Budenholzer: “Tonight we were very (aware) of Tobias Harris and trying to stay connected to him and a little bit Avery Bradley. The first half the other guys may have had more opportunities. But I think it was more just kind of effort. They were getting to the paint some but it was more a little bit of bad offense, not enough effort, not enough competitiveness. We got a lot more aggressive in the second half.”
3. The Hawks also had 12 first-half turnovers, leading to 19 points for the Pistons. John Collins had three of those giveaways and Taurean Prince, Luke Babbitt and Dennis Schroder had two each. Budenholzer: “I thought our offense didn’t help us in the first half (with) the turnovers. I felt like we turned down some open shots that then were leading to turnovers eventually. Second half it was a better balance of catch-and-shoot threes and attack the basket and get to the rim.”
4. As usual, Bazemore (22 points on 16 shots) was aggressive going to the basket from the start. He was looking to score and finished strong for the most part but he only got three free-throw attempts despite working hard to create contact. During winning time Bazemore made plays on three straight possessions: a three-pointer to get the Hawks within three, another three to tie it and then a alley-oop lob for John Collins dunk that tied it again.
5. Marco Belinelli’s outside shot wasn’t falling early so he tried to create space in the mid-range with some nifty moves. He got some good looks but couldn’t make many. Belinelli got some of those shots to fall in the second half but still needed 16 shots for 14 points and missed an open three to tie in the final minute.
6. Dewayne Dedmon’s outside shot was falling. My skepticism about his ability to be a jump shooter is slowly subsiding but so is my optimism about his ability to be a deterrent at the rim as a help defender. Dedmon does consistently good work on the glass.
7. Babbitt was the primary ball-handler during several first-half possessions. He had three assists in the first quarter but missed some open teammates because he was mechanical and wasn’t seeing the floor well. Babbitt had a good all-around game, though, with 11 points on five shots, seven rebounds and solid defense. Coach Mike Budenholzer will have a lineup decision to make once Ersan Ilyasova (knee) returns.
8. Dedmon was called for his second foul after a little more than five minutes. Both fouls were unnecessary: Dedmon bumped Andre Drummond along the baseline after the Pistons center already was at the rim, and then got a loose ball foul while trying to get to a missed shot that he had no chance to grab.
9. Dedmon’s foul trouble meant that Collins probably spent more time on the court against Andre Drummond than he otherwise would have. That’s a tough matchup for Collins, who gives up 50-plus pounds to Drummond. But the Pistons surprisingly didn’t go to the Drummond much against Collins, though Drummond (20 rebounds) did muscle Collins on the boards. Collins had another stint against Drummond in the third quarter and bothered the bigger man with his quickness.
10. Early on Collins was having one of those nights when he fumbles the ball and is indecisive . His energy and explosiveness are his best attributes but sometimes he probably could benefit from slowing down and playing more under control. Collins steadied himself after halftime and ended up with an efficient, productive game: 16 points on 13 shots, eight rebounds.
Budenholzer: “That was like two different players. The second half John is what we need. You can see how good he can be, how effective he can be (and) it doesn’t matter who he’s playing against. We just need more of that the way he played in the second half. It was a real bright spot individually. He needs to kind of bring that from the beginning to the end.”
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