Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Atlanta Hawks 94 Detroit Pistons 85


Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
DET 86
41.7 11.1
34.7 9.3
ATL 85 1.106 56

Despite poor shooting and an unresponsive starting point guard, Detroit stayed in the game on the strength of their offensive rebounding. To be fair, they were strong on the offensive glass, in part, because John Kuester chose to play bigger players in Rodney Stuckey's stead and several of the smaller Hawks couldn't compete on the glass. As a team, the Hawks grabbed just 32 of a possible 49 defensive rebounds and Josh Smith, Al Horford, and Marvin Williams accounted for 25 of those 32 defensive rebounds.

With 6:33 left in the game and Detroit leading 78-76, Greg Monroe, adjudged to have been pushed by Al Horford, fell from a significant height onto Marvin Williams. Williams crumpled, peeled himself off the floor, then nearly crumpled again while leaving the floor. Jamal Crawford missed the entire game with turf toe, leaving Larry Drew short of his preferred options to finish the game on the court. Drew replaced Williams with Zaza Pachulia and that made all the difference.

On the first possession following Pachulia's entrance, Tayshaun Prince made a three-pointer to extend the Piston lead to five. On Detroit's next ten possessions, they made one field goal, missed eight field goals, grabbed just one defensive rebound, and turned the ball over three times. The Hawks converted those turnovers, plus the Detroit misses they rebounded, into six made baskets (4 of them assisted), 13 points, and an eight-point lead with 33 seconds left.

Though they got killed on the defensive glass overall, the Hawks were devastating on the relatively rare occasions they grabbed a defensive board. Atlanta scored 28 fast break points despite Detroit committing just 8 turnovers. This was both the downside of Kuester's big, crash-the-glass lineups for the Pistons and an object lesson in how important defensive rebounding is to the success of the Atlanta Hawks. Even a well-designed and sharply executed half-court offense can't compete with the quality of shot created when Josh Smith, Al Horford, and Marvin Williams get out in transition.

Smith's involvement in the decisive 13-2 capped an especially productive game in a reassuring fashion. The Hawks might have lost contact with Pistons were it not for the four jump shots (including one three-pointer) he made in five attempts through the first three-and-a-half quarters. Vital as those points were tonight, the Hawks can't expect the manner of their vitality to be replicated in the future. In the final six minutes, Smith eschewed the offensive perimeter, grabbed a couple of defensive rebounds, twice found Al Horford (once for a transition layup, once for a dunk), and scored twice at the rim himself (off of nice passes from Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby). Fool's gold helped give the Hawks a chance to win. The color made the win a reality.

Other key factors in securing the win...
  • Al Horford taking advantage of Ben Wallace's absence to score 10 of his 18 points in the final 13:47 of the game.
  • Larry Drew showing an earlier hook for the second unit in the fourth quarter as the Pistons opened the period on an 8-2 run.
  • Joe Johnson mitigating another poor shooting night (14 points on 15 shots plus 2 free throw attempts) with 8 more assists and some decent before-the-shot defense against bigger players.
Further items of interest...
  • Mike Bibby picked up two personal fouls in the first quarter. He played 8 minutes and 41 seconds of the second quarter.
  • Jordan Crawford saw the first real action of his NBA career. It was a mixed bag. He knocked down a long jumper for his first professional bucket within 90 seconds of entering the game and ran a couple of nice side screen-and-roll plays with Pachulia in the second half. Crawford also forced both a three-point shot and a pass into traffic when discretion would have served him better than aggression.

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