After taking crippling losses to the Cavaliers and Lakers in the past week, the Hawks finally got back on the right track with a 99-89 win over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.
Jeff Teague was magnificent, particularly in the second half. Teague scored 19 of his 28 points in the second half and absolutely dominated Brandon Jennings and DJ Augustin on both ends of the floor. “His defense on the other end of the court [was good],” said head coach Mike Budenholzer on his starting point guard. “A lot of people talk about his points and his offense, but I thought his defense was very good on the ball. They run a ton of pick-and-rolls. I’m really please with Jeff’s effort, particularly on the defensive end of the court.”
In addition to the 28 points on 9-for-15 shooting, Teague also recorded four rebounds, six assists, two steals, and two blocks. It seems that Teague always gives extra effort against Brandon Jennings and the result was one of the best games of Teague’s career.
Although the Hawks had control for most of the game, they did run into some trouble at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth. The Piston completely wiped out a 19-point Atlanta lead to tie the game at 74 with eight minutes left. The Hawks then used a group effort to drive back into the lead, as each starter scored in the final eight minutes to get the lead back into double digits.
“Just keep playing,” said Teague on Budenholzer’s message after giving up the 19-point lead. “They were going to make a run. It’s the NBA. Things can swing fast… We were able to withstand their run and make big plays at the end.”
DeMarre Carroll was back for the first time after missing four games due to a groin injury. His presence was needed, as he does a lot to improve offense, defense, and rebounding. Carroll finished the game with 10 points, seven rebounds, and two assists in 31 minutes.
Neither Millsap nor Horford played an overwhelming game, but both put out solid outings on both ends of the court that the Hawks need to create success. While Horford did not actually grab a ton of rebounds (just two) he was boxing out and sealing enough to create opportunities for other Hawks players and it showed; Six Hawks players had at least four rebounds, including a total of 15 rebounds from Teague, Kyle Korver, and Thabo Sefolosha. Budenholzer is always preaching about his guards being aggressive on defensive rebounds and in this game, his backcourt accomplished that. It was a factor that helped the Hawks outrebound the Pistons, 46-45.
For the Pistons, their entire offense was deplorable. Josh Smith’s shot selection is often the most criticized, but Brandon Jennings’ selection might be even worse. One memorable shot taken by Detroit’s starting guard was in the first half, where the Pistons were in transition offense and Jennings took a somewhat contested 3-pointer with nearly all of the time left on the shot clock. Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy did not approve of the attempt.
The Hawks have another long break off, as they do not play again until Tuesday. However, Tuesday marks the beginning of a four-game, five-night stretch for the Hawks, with the opponents being Washington, Toronto, New Orleans, and Charlotte. While it is a tough stretch, the Hawks are graced with three of those four games taking place in Philips Arena.