Initial feedback: A completely subjective and immediate response to the events of tonight's game, featuring a comment and rating, the latter on a scale of 1 to 10, on every player who saw the floor and the head coach, along with ephemera and miscellany as the author deems necessary.
Your ratings and commentary, dear reader, are welcomed in the comments to this post.
Jeff Teague: Dick Vitale should have called this game. He would have loved Teague's driving, drawing and dishing. Teague is a score-first point guard, but that doesn't necessarily preclude him from being able to set up teammates. Once Teague showed the Pistons that nobody could stay in front of him and keep him out of the lane, he began to find open teammates. The results were spectacular as Teague tied a career high with 24 points and had a season-best 11 assists. 9/10
Joe Johnson: Joe had an off shooting night, scoring 16 points on 6-for-16. However, he contributed in other ways, grabbing 4 rebounds and dishing out 7 assists while leading the team in +/- at +24. 6/10
Josh Smith: Josh keeps rubbing it in David Stern's face, night in, night out. You can snub him for All-Star selections and Player of the Month honors, but you can't change the fact that one of the league's biggest stars plays for the Atlanta Hawks. Scored 22 points on 10-for-20 shooting with 12 boards, 4 assists, 3 blocks and a steal. Just another day at the office for J-Smoove. 8/10
Zaza Pachulia: The single greatest stride that Zaza has made this year, contributing to his career season, has been the ability to make himself invisible to the referees. His ability to stay on the floor and keep contributing has been the most obvious distinction to past seasons. His invisibility cloak was not working tonight. 3/10
Kirk Hinrich: Has Larry Drew figured out that Kirk can't guard Rodney Stuckey yet? 3/10
Ivan Johnson: There's no hiding Ivan Johnson. Did you see the part of the game when Zaza went to the bench and Ivan came in at center and got dominated by Greg Monroe? No? That's because it didn't happen. Monroe, listed at 6-11, had 8 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists in 31 minutes. Ivan, playing primarily center, had 16 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, a block and an assist in 29 minutes. Only Jeremy Lin is a better story among undrafted free agents. 7/10
Jannero Pargo: Jannero Pargo is not a point guard. He has trouble executing a basic entry pass. The Pistons outscored the Hawks by 10 during his 6 minutes on the court. He should be utilized off the ball for his fantastic streak shooting ability, but should not be asked to run a team. 1/10
Willie Green: At -72 for the year, has worst +/- on the team wrapped up by a wide margin. His nearest competition is Jason Collins, who is -33 for the year. 1/10
Tracy McGrady: Played only 7 minutes but was on the floor when the second unit almost gave the game away. Did have a pair of points, assists and rebounds in his brief appearance. 2/10
Marvin Williams: For a bench player, 12 points and 5 rebounds in 24 minutes are valuable contributions. His 8-for-10 free throw shooting may have been the difference in keeping the Hawks from throwing away a critical game as the Pacers solidified the third seed in the East by beating West-leading Oklahoma City. 6/10
The head coach
Limiting Pargo and Green to 6 and 11 minutes, respectively, also may have been the difference in this game. Allocating all backup center minutes to Ivan Johnson and letting Collins and Erick Dampier cool their heels on the bench certainly seemed a stroke of brilliance. 7/10
A thought regarding the opposition
The Hawks entered this game knowing they could take nothing for granted against a Pistons squad that was 5-1 in its previous 6 games and should have beaten the Hawks in both previous meetings (if they had fouled Joe Johnson before allowing his step-back three).