– The Hawks shot 54 percent from the field against the Pistons. “We did?” Al said, incredulous.
– You can see why he’s surprised. Despite pretty much everyone but J.J. making shots, Atlanta had to be nearly perfect in the final six minutes to beat hapless Detroit. The reasons: 17 offensive rebounds for Detroit, leading to 16 second-chance points. “We were a little careless in that area, and it almost cost us the game,” Horford said.
– Yet, and so far there’s always a “yet” with this team, the Hawks overcame all they did wrong by getting themselves right at the end. That’s been the theme early in the season. “We’re not going to go out and blow out a lot of people,” L.D. said. “We have to learn how to win at the end. Sometimes it’s going to be pretty, sometimes it’s going to be ugly but we have to win in those types of situations.”
– This one actually ended up being pretty at the end. During that 18-4 closing run, the Hawks made seven straight baskets and Detroit missed 7 of 8. Atlanta’s energy dragged for most of the game but not at the end. “We were a little sluggish,” Al said. “I think everybody was feeling tired from the night before. I think everybody just had to push through to get this win.”
– The Pistons played last night, too, and their opponent was Boston, not Cleveland. The Hawks were without Jamal (and it especially showed during that second-quarter lull) but the Pistons “are missing half their team,” as Al put it.
– Zaza’s 12 points in 19 minutes were essential. Otherwise, Detroit’s 35-25 advantage in bench points would have been much worse.
– Marvin’s eight rebounds were essential for the Hawks, too, since he was the only guy outside of Smoove and Al putting in work on the boards. Facing the rare opponent that doesn’t enjoy a size advantage inside, the Hawks gave up offensive rebounds due to lack of awareness and energy.
– “Totally unacceptable,” L.D. said. “We didn’t get out bodies on people. It’s not just our big guys, our guards have got to dig out long rebounds.” Bibby, J.J., Teague, and JC2 totaled seven rebounds.
– JC2 got his most meaningful minutes of the season and was OK. Early in the fourth he took an ill-advised 3-pointer and threw away a pass but he also had two assists and generally didn’t hurt the Hawks.
– Teague’s three first-half turnovers marred an otherwise solid game. The Hawks needed the energy he and JC2 provided.
– J.J. missed a lot of wide open spot-ups. He’s 11 for 36 in his last two games. “It’s been a little tough the last two games,” he said. “I just haven’t really been able to get in a rhythm. I know it will come. I’m not really worried about that.”
– Maybe he’s just tired after playing 42 minutes at Cleveland and then logging 42 again tonight. It’s apparent L.D. is going to ride him in situations like this and tell him to keep shooting, but the game changed when Al and Smoove started touching the ball more late.
– To J.J.’s credit, he recognized he wasn’t getting it done and shared the ball for three assists in the fourth quarter. He also converted an and-1 that made it 89-83.
– With Jamal out, L.D. didn’t have a lot of other options to close. When Marvin went down, Zaza came in to play power forward and started the closing run with a reverse layup on a nice feed from Joe.
– Jamal may not make the trip to Minnesota. Marvin is questionable with what the team called a sprained right knee. “I’ve already got a lot of treatment,” he said. “I will just go home and kick my feet up and see how it feels in the morning.”
– Already Atlanta’s decision not to add another wing over the summer could be a problem. No Mo (who is more of a guard) and no Marvin means no small forward other than Joe (who isn’t one).
– Good thing for the Hawks Villanueva likes to jack up bad shots. Josh Powell might have matched him brick for brick if he had played more than 13 minutes.
– Ben Gordon scored on everyone the Hawks put in front of him. J.J., Teague, JC2 and Bibby either couldn’t get to him through screens or lost track of him at the 3-point line.
– While Jamal’s absence was felt by the Hawks, Will Bynum (hamstring) would have made a difference for the Pistons. “Not to have Will has really hurt us,” Tayshaun Prince said. “He helps us play at a faster pace and attack the pick-and-rolls.”
– Strangely, Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey only played 14 minutes, apparently because coach John Kuester didn’t want to put him back in.
– I’m out, Hawks fans.