“Vince gave us the early momentum,” Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said after the game. “... That’s what a veteran does. He came in and gave us what we needed.”
The Pistons rallied late and pulled to within a point with 2:55 remaining with two Blake Griffin free throws as part of an 18-5 run.
Kent Bazemore hit a 3-pointer and Jeremy Lin scored on a drive to the basket, the latter coming with 1:22 remaining, to give the Hawks a 92-89 lead. The Pistons’ Reggie Jackson made two free throws with under a minute left to again make it a one-point game. After a Hawks turnover, Griffin missed two free throws with 23 seconds left that would have given the Pistons the lead.
Following the second miss, Lin made two free throws for a 94-91 lead. Jackson scored on a layup to make it a one-point game again, 94-93. Lin then added two more free throws with 12.5 seconds left.
The Pistons, inexplicably, missed a layup on the ensuing possession and Kent Bazemore made two more free throws with 4.1 seconds left for a 98-93 lead. The Hawks, inexplicably, fouled on a Pistons’ final attempt with less than a second left for the final margin and Griffin made two final free throws.
The Hawks played without two starters as John Collins missed the game with a left ankle injury suffered in Friday’s win over the Knicks. The power forward had a double-double in nine of the past 10 games. The Hawks continue to be without the injured starting small forward Taurean Prince.
The Hawks (9-23) also got 15 points and 17 rebounds from Alex Len, who stepped in the starting lineup for Collins. Bazemore had 13 points, Trae Young had 12 and Dewayne Dedmon had 11.
Langston Galloway led the Pistons (15-18) with 18 points. The Pistons have lost nine of their past 11 games.
The Hawks held a 54-41 rebound advantage, a key to the game with a depleted lineup and facing a bigger Pistons team.
“I thought the key to the game was us controlling the boards,” Pierce said. “Anytime you play Detroit, especially with (Andre) Drummond, it’s always the point of emphasis to keep them from getting second-chance opportunities. Not only did we do that, but our guys did a good job on the offensive glass and getting second-chance opportunities for us.”
The Hawks next host the Pacers on Wednesday.