That aggression produced 31 free throws, the most since their Feb. 5 win over Washington, after which the team went 6-12 before Sunday. Center Zaza Pachulia racked up 10 free throws alone. The Hawks also cleared 100 points for just the third time in the past 20 games.
The Hawks executed their offense better (25 assists on 37 field goals) and showed more determination to start their fast break. A telling play came in the fourth quarter. Forward Josh Smith led a fast break that found Hinrich in the corner. Hinrich swung the ball to guard Joe Johnson, but, with a defender closing, Johnson whipped the ball back to Hinrich, who made an open 3-point try that gave the Hawks an 89-81 lead with 8:31 to play.
"We did a good job of that all night, just sharing the ball no matter what happened," said Hinrich, who had six assists and was largely responsible for holding Pistons guard Richard Hamilton to six points.
Following Hinrich's 3-pointer, the lead grew to 11 points with 7:27 remaining before the Hawks slipped and allowed Detroit to narrow the lead to three points on three separate occasions, the last with 2:02 remaining. Two Hawks possessions later, Smith banked a turnaround hook shot from five feet with 52.1 seconds left and the shot clock expiring to return the lead to five points. He hit a free throw with 36.0 seconds left to create another five-point lead that effectively put the game out of reach.
Horford produced his 32nd double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, both team highs. Johnson, still wearing a headband to protect a head wound,handed out eight assists and scored 17 points. Posting up and driving to the rim, Johnson had five of his seven baskets come from inside seven feet.
Said Drew, "I thought he was very patient in the double team."
Of course, it requires more than a win over a lottery team to determine if the Hawks' slide has ended. Back-to-back games on Tuesday against Chicago and on Wednesday on the road against Philadelphia, two of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference, will reveal more.