DETROIT – Nothing has been a given for the Detroit Pistons this season, especially of late.
But when a team comes into your building tied for the worst record in the NBA and missing three starters, including its leading scorer, it would be a travesty to lose.
The Pistons were well on their way to a blowout in the second half Wednesday before Atlanta Hawks battled back to make them sweat a little. Still, the Pistons took care of business, before an eight-day All-Star break, with a 104-98 victory at Little Caesars Arena.
The Pistons (28-29) snapped a three-game losing streak. While Andre Drummond heads to Los Angeles for Sunday’s All-Star Game, the rest of the team will enjoy an extended break before hosting the Boston Celtics on Feb. 23.
Ish Smith led Detroit with 22 points and dished out nine assists. Blake Griffin tallied 13 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Drummond contributed 13 points and 15 rebounds. Reggie Bullock scored 15 points.
The Pistons broke it open with a 17-0 run early in the third quarter, taking a 62-35 lead. A 7-0 spurt shortly after, which included a dunk and a hook shot by Drummond, gave Detroit its largest lead at 69-39.
The Hawks chipped away at the deficit, getting it down to eight with 1:19 remaining in the fourth quarter. They cut it to four points with 10.6 seconds to play.
Atlanta (18-41) was missing point guard Dennis Schroder (back), its leading scorer, as well as Ersan Ilyasova (shoulder) and Kent Bazemore (rest). The Hawks defeated the Pistons on Sunday, their lone victory in four games between the teams, who completed their season series.
The Hawks made only 6-of-33 3-pointers (18.2 percent). They were led by Andrew White’s 15 points off the bench.
The Pistons led 45-32 after a poor-shooting first half by both teams. It’s the fewest first-half points by a Detroit opponent and by the Hawks this season. Atlanta shot only 33.3 percent from the floor, including 2-of-19 from 3-point range (10.5 percent). The Pistons didn’t fare much better at 38.1 percent from the field.
Smith scored eight of his 12 first-half points in the final 5:32 to help the Pistons increase their lead.
The Hawks had some pep from the opening tip, taking a 12-5 lead. It didn’t last. They scored only two points in the final 6:01 of the first, which ended with he Pistons ahead 22-14, and they put up only 21 points in the final 18 minutes of the half.
The Pistons established control with a 13-0 run that began midway through the first quarter. It started and ended with a Griffin 3-pointer.