Hawks hit the boards, pull away from Pistons

There was no mistaking the keys that helped The Hawks snap a two-game losing streak with Friday’s 99-89 win over the visiting Pistons: Jeff Teague, defense and rebounding.

Teague’s been steady, and he was especially potent while scoring nine of his season-high 26 points as the Hawks closed the Pistons out with a 25-15 burst.

No less importantly, Atlanta’s defense returned from a two-game sabbatical while the Pistons were limited to 37.3 percent shooting, and the Hawks’ rebounding … well, perhaps that was the magic key.

A 46-45 rebounding edge may not look like a big deal, but given that the Pistons (3-10) entered the game ranked between Nos. 4-7 in the NBA in most rebounding metrics while the Hawks (6-5) were ranked 24-27 it mattered quite a bit.

Detroit was averaging 45.4 rebounds per game, the Hawks 39. During that 25-15 run over the final 8:30, Atlanta had a 17-8 edge on the glass with Thabo Sefolosha grabbing four of his seven and Paul Millsap snatching three of his 12.

Atlanta head coach Mike Budenholzer said his team didn’t change anything strategically against the bigger Pistons.

Millsap said, “We change our mentality. We’ve got to go get the ball. It doesn’t matter how we do it. Tonight we were more aggressive.”

Teague grabbed four rebounds, all defensive, after averaging 1.8 rebounds overall in the Hawks’ first 10 games. His partner in the backcourt, Kyle Korver, also grabbed four defensive rebounds as Atlanta’s starting guards out-rebounded their counterparts 8-2.

The Hawks grabbed a season-high 38 defensive rebounds on Detroit’s 52 missed shots, a 73.1 percent rate. That was nine more defensive than their 24th-ranked average of 29.9.

Throw in seven rebounds by forward DeMarre Carroll in his first game after missing four with a groin injury (six defensive), seven off the bench from Sefolosha (five defensive) and six from Pero Antic (four defensive), and you have a formula. It’s called keep away.

The Hawks weren’t able to keep Detroit center Andre Drummond from snatching 16 rebounds, and forwards Josh Smith and Greg Monroe added eight each.

But six other players combined to grab just 13 rebounds for the Pistons as the Hawks walled them off. Atlanta’s bench out-rebounded Detroit’s 17-11.

“Rebounding is all about effort,” said Korver, who added 12 points and four assists. “Go hit somebody, scratch and claw and do whatever you have to do to get the ball.”