DETROIT -- The Hawks kicked off the NBA In-Season Tournament with a 126-120 win over the Pistons at Little Caesars Arena Tuesday night.

Here are five observations:

1. With 3:22 in the game, Alec Burks hit a 3 off a screen that pulled the Pistons within 114-113. A pair of free throws from Dejounte Murray kept the Hawks ahead briefly before Marvin Bagley countered with a hook shot off an offensive board.

Despite making a couple of stops, the Hawks couldn’t capitalize and they missed their next two shots before failing to get back in transition. It left the lane wide open for a Kevin Knox dunk, which gave the Pistons the lead.

But then with 1:32 left, De’Andre Hunter made a baseline jumper and 30 seconds later Murray found Clint Capela deep in the post for a dunk that forced the Pistons to take a timeout.

It was just enough to power the Hawks to the finish and they put up a huge defensive stand in the final 30 seconds. Plus a potential four-point play got wiped off the board after officials deemed no continuation and referees discussed that the foul came before the shot.

“Both teams are really competed and I think was a nod to the in-season tournament,” Hawks coach Quin Snyder said.

2. The Hawks kicked off the tournament without star guard Trae Young. Young remained with his family following the birth of his second child.

So, the Hawks looked to their roster to step up as playmakers in Young’s absence.

Murray got the team going early, helping the Hawks surge to a 12-point lead. He ended the night with 32 points but the Hawks moved ball well after early turnovers threatened to deter them.

The Hawks had six players finish the night in double figures as they continue to put an emphasis on sharing the ball and playing unselfishly.

“First of all, we’re missing a big part of our team ... Trae Young so we knew we had to come out extra aggressive, extra ready, different game plans,” Murray said.

3. The Hawks have struggled with taking care of the ball through the first 10 games of the season as they’ve looked to get offense going when it has fallen stagnant. But as they’ve tried to drive into the paint they’ve played indecisively and defenses have collapsed on them leaving them with a wall of bodies.

Though the Hawks had just 14 turnovers, the Pistons scored 17 points off them.

So, the Hawks have been left with tougher looks, blocked shots or turnovers. This season the Hawks have tied the Timberwolves for 23rd in the league in turnovers per game, averaging 15.9.

To try and limit turnovers, Snyder has implored his team to take more 3s.

4. The Hawks struggled to keep the Pistons out of the paint, giving up 66 points to a team that averaged 48.7 points in the paint coming into the night.

The Pistons carved the Hawks up on the perimeter, leaving their bigs on an island to try and shut things down. The Pistons used the physicality of Capela and Onyeka Okongwu to their advantage. Both of the Hawks’ bigs picked up five fouls.

“We just got to help as far as rebounds,” Murray said. “Because our bigs gotta box out and with us guards and the guys on the perimeter, we got to go help out, whether it’s boxing out the other guy or just help rebound in general.

5. Tuesday’s game marked Saddiq Bey’s return to Little Caesars Arena for the first time since the Hawks acquired him in February.

Bey played 14-straight minutes in the second half before the Hawks subbed him out with 3:07 left in the game. He began the game hunting for his shots and it contributed to a slow start. But he found his groove in the second half, hitting a key 3 with 4:41 left that briefly staved off the Pistons.

He ended the night with 19 points, four rebounds, two assists, one block and two steals.

Stat to know

4 -- The game marked Dejounte Murray’s fourth career outing with 30+ points and 3+ steals.


Frankly I think everybody’s really excited for Trae. Obviously you want him here but we want him back with his family and it’s a special, special day.” -- Snyder on players stepping up in the absence of Young.

Up next

The Hawks host the Knicks on Wednesday the second game of a back-to-back.