Vivlamore reporting from Auburn Hills, Michigan.
The Hawks take on the Pistons tonight and will use the same starting lineup from the past six games of Jeff Teague, Lou Williams, Kyle Korver, Josh Smith and Al Horford.
In speaking with coach Larry Drew before the game, he is wary of the Pistons’ bench players. It was the Detroit reserves, you’ll remember, who combined to score 85 points, erase a 22-point deficit and force two overtimes on Dec. 26 in a Hawks’ 126-119 win.
Will Bynum scored a game-high 31 points off the bench for the Pistons.
“We have to be better against their bench,” Drew said. “That particular game, their bench just played well. I don’t think that has happened to us thus far this season but that game. Their bench played well, really shot the ball well. We have to be better defensively. We know what each guy is capable of doing. Defensively we have the game plan, the game strategy and we just have to be good when those guys come into the game.
“We have to make those guys a priority. Given the way this team has played the last seven or eight ball games, their bench is a huge part of why they’ve had the success they’ve had. We have to really buckle down and we have to really zone in on their bench.”
The Pistons have won five of their past six games with the only loss coming to the Hawks.
Drew said the issues in blowing the 22-point lead rested mostly with his team.
“I was actually just in there watching a little bit of it,” Drew said. “Defensively, we had breakdowns. Offensively, just bad shot selection, bad floor spacing, bad execution. That was the result. It was funny as I was watching the fourth quarter. I believe at the six-minute mark we were up by 14 or 16 (points) and you had not seen that game or stopped the game at that point you would have never guessed it went to double overtime.
“We didn’t do a really good job offensively. We settled – a lot. When you settle, that’s the end result especially if you are not making the shots. And the Pistons just ran the ball down our throat. Bynum got to the basket pretty much at will. They had some guys who made some shots. You have to be more efficient in those situations. When you get a lead you have to understand how you got the lead and you have to learn how to really work the offense. That game we didn’t do it.”
In other news:
* The Hawks played without guards Devin Harris (sore left foot) and Anthony Morrow (right hip strain) and center Johan Petro (stomach illness). The three did not travel to Detroit and their status for Saturday’s game against the Celtics in unclear.
* Josh Smith ranks eighth on the Hawks’ franchise list with 5,001 rebounds. He entered Friday’s game trailing Cliff Hagan by 18 rebounds for seventh on the list.
“It’s a great honor,” Smith said after getting his milestone rebound against the Hornets Tuesday. “It lets me know I’m getting older. I still have a lot more in my tank to go but it’s a blessing to be doing this as long as I have.”
* Entering Friday’s game, Al Horford had 207 field goals this season with 45 (21.7 percent) assisted by Smith.
- Chris Vivlamore
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