Short-handed and playing on the second night of a back-to-back, the Hawks looked the part, falling to the rebuilding Pistons 122-101 Wednesday in Detroit.

Next up, the Hawks will take a day off before hosting the Warriors Friday.

ExploreThe AJC's complete coverage on the Hawks

Below are some takeaways from the loss:

1. Missing both their starting power forward (John Collins with a right ring finger sprain/right foot strain) and backup power forward (Danilo Gallinari with right Achilles soreness), plus two backup guards (Lou Williams out for personal reasons and Skylar Mays out with a non-COVID illness) the Hawks were quite short-handed for this game. They started Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (three points, two rebounds), typically not in the rotation, and gave first-quarter minutes to rookie Jalen Johnson, who fans have eagerly anticipated seeing with the Hawks after averaging a double-double in the G League with the College Park Skyhawks (21.1 points and 11 rebounds). Johnson played just under 25 minutes, adding 11 points, seven rebounds, one assist and one steal, with two turnovers and three fouls. Overall, Hawks coach Nate McMillan liked what he saw from Johnson.

“We’ll see, but I thought he earned some minutes tonight,” McMillan said on if Johnson had earned more playing time in the future. “What he did out on the floor, I liked what I saw from him at that four position. He was rebounding for us, which is something we desperately need.”

Combined ShapeCaption
Hawks forward Jalen Johnson (right) is fouled by Detroit Pistons forward Marvin Bagley III (35) Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Credit: AP

Hawks forward Jalen Johnson (right) is fouled by Detroit Pistons forward Marvin Bagley III (35) Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Credit: AP

Combined ShapeCaption
Hawks forward Jalen Johnson (right) is fouled by Detroit Pistons forward Marvin Bagley III (35) Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

2. Pushing through fatigue on the second night of a back-to-back having polished off a big win vs. the Knicks in New York Tuesday, the Hawks trailed by eight at halftime. Then, in the third quarter, they started to lose control of the game, with the Pistons going on a 25-4 run to start the quarter and take an 84-55 lead. The Hawks managed to minimize the damage with a 21-7 run to end the third, but still trailed by 15 entering the fourth. Ultimately, although the Pistons are 20-53, eliminated from playoff contention and tied for the worst record in the Eastern Conference, the way Detroit plays and scraps made it a tough matchup for Atlanta under the circumstances, per McMillan.

“This is a tough team to play on a back-to-back,” McMillan said. “They really keep a lot of pressure on the ball. Defensively, they make you work for everything that you get, being physical, touching, grabbing, bodying you, and with the switching, it forces a lot of isolation basketball. And then they keep pressure on your defense, because they have multiple ball-handlers; they attack the paint.”

3. Unable to gain traction in the fourth, the Hawks ended up pulling their starters with 6:07 to play. Atlanta actually won the first quarter, 31-26, but as the game wore on, the Hawks seemed to lose their legs and started settling on the perimeter instead of attacking the basket. Trae Young led the Hawks with 21 points and nine assists, De’Andre Hunter added 15 points and three rebounds and Bogdan Bogdanovic added 13 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals.

“I think you definitely could see the (heavy) legs, shots were short and some shots that we had some good looks and they just weren’t going in,” Young said. “You could tell some guys just had some heavy legs, for sure.”

4. This marks Atlanta’s second loss to Detroit in the past two-and-a-half weeks, with a 113-110 overtime loss to the Pistons March 7. They lose the season series, 2-1 (the first matchup Oct. 25, the Hawks won 122-104).

5. Normally, the Hawks are No. 2 in the league in free throws made per game with 18, but they didn’t end up getting to the line at their usual clip in this one. They went 13-for-15 (86.7%), with Young not getting to the line at all (he leads the team with 7.3 attempts per game), compared to the Pistons’ 22-for-25.

Pistons 122, Hawks 101

Stat of the game: 8 (the amount of Pistons players who scored in double-digits: Jerami Grant with 21, Cade Cunningham with 17, Kelly Olynyk with 16, Killian Hayes with 13, Marvin Bagley III with 13, Cory Joseph with 11, Saddiq Bey with 10 and Rodney McGruder with 10)

Star of the game: Grant (led the Pistons with 21 points, adding eight rebounds and four assists with zero turnovers)

Quotable: “Feeling good to be out there. Just staying prepared and staying ready and just whenever my number was called, just make sure I was ready to produce.” (Johnson on getting some time with the Hawks after spending most of his rookie year in the G League)