Atlanta Hawks: Pistons 86, Hawks 85
Auburn Hills–So Joe Johnson has an efficient scoring night in his return, driving for scores and earning free throws, but at winning time the Hawks lose the game when Iso-Joe goes awry with a fadeaway 20-footer over Rodney Stuckey.
- I can’t imagine my blog people will have anything to say about that development.
- “We wanted to create the switch, and we did that,” Larry Drew said. “We wanted Joe to take it to the hole and try to force a foul. He made the pass back out to [Jeff] Teague. But what we wanted, we got. We got the switch, we just didn’t complete the play.”
- “We didn’t know how they were going to play it,” Joe said. “We wanted to run a high pick-and-roll and just see what we got out of it. Obviously it didn’t go as we thought. [The shot] looked good. I had to shoot it a little higher than normal. I didn’t think I really had enough time to put it on the deck and try to get a little closer.”
- Truth be told, the Hawks were fortunate to even be in position to win. You could see they were in trouble when the Pistons scored the first three baskets of the second half with no resistance in sight. “We came out very slow, very lethargic,” Drew said. “We had no bounce. We had no zap.”
- Things only got worse when Josh Smith went to the bench late in the quarter with his fifth foul. (Yes, Drew left Smith in with four fouls after he gave Zaza Pachulia the two-foul rule treatment in the first half.)
- The Hawks went more than 13 minutes without a basket but rallied once Josh returned to the game. It was Josh, Joe and Teague leading the way with a Marvin Williams 3 thrown in for good measure.
- But that 11-2 run wasn’t enough. Detroit’s two points came on a tip dunk by Jason Maxiell, who came flying through the lane as Josh and Marvin watched the ball bounce on the rim. Maxiell muscled the Hawks around the basket all night. “He’s always been a thorn in our side,” Drew said. “He treats every shot as a missed shot. You have got to get a body on him. That tip-in dunk was a huge play.”
- The Pistons shot 56 percent. “I think we didn’t let them feel us defensively the whole game,” Josh said. “They made shots. Maxiell hit a ton of jump shots tonight. He has been hitting some jumpers this season but he made a lot of them tonight. You can live with guys making jump shots and not getting into your paint.”
- Except the Pistons scored 44 points in the paint and enjoyed a 37-24 rebounding edge. “Physically, we had no presence defensively,” Drew said. “If it was going to be ugly, so be it, but more importantly we had to grind it out if it was going to be a physical game. We didn’t bring the physicality that we should have brought from a defensive standpoint.”
- Joe scored 18 points on 12 shots while making all five free-throw attempts. He missed four of five 3-point tries. “It actually feels great,” Joe said of the knee. “I was a little skeptical at first but once I got past that mental [block] everything was good.”
- “I thought he looked OK,” Drew said. “I kept asking him how he felt every time he came out he said he felt pretty good. We are just going to have to monitor him. His legs were a little weary. You could see that his shots were short. We are going to have to keep him out there until he gets his wind back, gets his timing back and gets acclimated again.”
- Zaza had trouble handling Greg Monroe’s quickness and never really got involved while playing 15 minutes.
- Marvin Williams had his best offensive game in a while with 16 points on 11 shots and three assists with no turnovers.
- Teague spent a good chunk of the night calling for the ball in vain. When he got it at winning time, he passed it back to Joe. He was active on defense.
- Josh needed 19 shots for his 21 points, missed four of eight free-throw attempts and had seven rebounds in 26 minutes. Like all of the Hawks, he dragged after a good start.
- Ivan Johnson, playing after learning about the death of a family member, had five steals and 10 points on seven shots and was offered the most resistance around the basket by far of any of the Hawks. Kirk Hinrich had nine points on five shots and was dogged defensively.
- That was about it as far as the bench guys. “We didn’t get the production from the bench we’d gotten the last few games,” Drew said.
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat