Ten observations from Hawks 118, Pistons 115 .. . .
1. Dewayne Dedmon (career-high tying 20 points) gave the Hawks the fourth-quarter scoring punch that they needed. When Hawks guard Dennis Schroder got his shot blocked by Andre Drummond on a drive, Dedmon collected the loose ball and scored as Ish Smith grabbed him. Dedmon made the free throw to put the Hawks ahead 109-107 and, after Drummond missed a shot in the lane, Dedmon made a corner 3-pointer for a 112-107 Hawks advantage. Dedmon's three came near the end of the shot clock on a pass from Kent Bazemore.
Dedmon: "What I saw was 'Baze' coming off the pick-and-roll and I was in the middle of backpedaling and he found me. So it was just, 'let if fly.'"
2. Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer started Dedmon at center instead of Miles Plumlee. Budenholzer said he had been starting Plumlee because of his bulk, which would seem to come in handy against Drummond, but Plumlee was a DNP-CD. After the game, Budenholzer said he planned to keep Dedmon in the starting lineup.
3. Before this game Budenholzer said he wanted shooting bigs on the floor to pull Drummond and Blake Griffin away from the paint. Thus Dedmon and Ersan Ilyasova as the starting frontcourt. That plan didn't materialize because there was no need for Dedmon to step outside and shoot; he was doing damage as a roll man. But when it was time to make a big jump shot, Dedmon delivered. Dedmon was disruptive as a help defender too (three steals). Chances are, Dedmon is going to opt out of his contract in the summer and get a nice deal.
4. The Hawks led by a point after three quarters. The Pistons quickly opened up a five-point lead in the fourth quarter amid a flurry of poor offensive possessions for the Hawks, who also couldn't handle Drummond during that stretch. Drummond (25 points on 14 shots, 9-for-13 free throws, 15 rebounds) also was a deterrent at the the rim.
5. It appeared Schroder was very eager to get the ball early so he could go at Ish Smith (too slow-footed to stay in front of him) and past Drummond (too lumbering to block Schroder when he get those quick extensions at the basket). Schroder kind of receded into the background after that early spurt until coming alive in the final period.
6. Budenholzer pregame said rebounding was the other part of the equation against Detroit's bigs: “Drummond is such a force on both the offensive and defensive boards. If you can limit those it’s such a huge step against this team.” Drummond had five offensive boards and Griffin three as the Pistons scored 17 second-chance points on 12 offensive rebounds. Dedmon and Ilyasova did their part by with 16 defensive boards between them but the rest of the Hawks combined for just 14.
7. Griffin had an inefficient scoring game with 20 points on 20 shots. The Hawks were happy to watch him settle for 3-pointers (1-for-8 before making his final two, including a meaningless bank shot at the buzzer). After halftime Griffin (six assists) did make more of an effort to draw attention in the paint and find open teammates. This also happened:
8. Taurean Prince missed all five of his 3-point attempts after he missed all nine against the Cavs on Friday. Prince also had two bad turnovers on consecutive possessions early in the fourth quarter. At that point Budenholzer summoned Prince to the bench and left him there.
9. Pistons guard Reggie Bullock, who is a threat as a volume 3-point shooter, got loose to make all four of his shots in the second quarter, including two 3-pointers. Those 10 consecutive points to staked the Pistons to a 56-55 halftime lead.
10. John Collins (nine points on seven shots, three rebounds in 18 minutes) got into foul trouble dealing with Drummond. He was called for his fourth personal more than two minutes before halftime, picked up his fifth at 2:06 of the third quarter and fouled out on what appeared to be an inadvertent bump of Griffin with 3:25 to play.
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