ATLANTA — It has been a bad week for the Detroit Pistons.
After falling to the Utah Jazz by 15 points on Tuesday and the Philadelphia 76ers by 20 on Wednesday, they were unable to get on the right track before Christmas. The Pistons were outscored, 70-42, in the second half by the Atlanta Hawks on Friday en route to a 130-105 blowout. It was the fifth straight loss for Detroit (8-27). The Pistons have two days to recuperate before hosting the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night.
Bojan Bogdanovic led the Pistons with 23 points, Killian Hayes scored 10 points and dished out five assists, Jaden Ivey tallied 15 points and Jalen Duren had 13 points and eight rebounds. The Hawks’ All-Star backcourt of Trae Young (26 points, 13 assists) and Dejounte Murray (26 points) gave Detroit issues throughout the night.
Pistons collapse in second half (again)
Head coach Dwane Casey has already expressed his discontent over Detroit’s poor third quarters this season. the past week has been especially brutal. The Sacramento Kings won the third quarter by a 38-23 margin last Friday. Then the Brooklyn Nets outscored them by 19 in the third on Sunday. And the Jazz outscored the Pistons by nine in Tuesday’s third quarter.
Add the Hawks to that list, as they took control in the third quarter by outscoring Detroit, 35-18. That included a 13-0 run in which a bad cross-court pass from Hayes led to a transition 3-pointer by De’Andre Hunter that gave the Hawks a 75-66 lead with 8:41 remaining in the quarter.
The Pistons shot 5-for-20 overall in the third quarter and turned the ball over five times while allowing the Hawks to shoot 14-for-22. Their lack of offensive execution was bested only by their confusion on defense. Players missed rotations, failed to close out in timely fashion and struggled in transition, as the Hawks scored 10 fastbreak points in the third. They continued to pile on in the fourth, opening the final period with a 12-0 run.
Disasterous second half preceded by encouraging first half
It’s tough to explain the difference in effort and execution during the Pistons’ two halves on Friday. Their first half appeared to put them on track to snap a four-game losing streak, making up for one of their worst efforts of the season Wednesday.
Detroit shot 51.1% during the first half and led the Hawks, 63-60, at halftime. Following a perhaps-needed day off, the Pistons looked reinvigorated. Hayes and Ivey hit back-to-back 3’s midway through the first quarter to extend their lead to eight points. The Hawks came back, though, using an 8-0 run in the second quarter to take a four-point lead.
Instead of unraveling, the Pistons got the last punch. Bogdanovic, who led Detroit with nine points in the second quarter, finished a 3-point play with 1:29 to play to give Detroit a 56-55 lead. Clint Capela committed a flagrant foul on the play by hitting him in the face, and Bogdanovic capitalized by making a layup on the following possession to give them the lead.
In the final 30 seconds, Duren finished a dunk off a dump-off pass from Ivey, and Hayes knocked down a midrange shot with 1.6 seconds left to give the Pistons a 3-point lead at the buzzer. None of that momentum carried over to the second half, giving the Pistons their third straight defeat by at least 15 points.