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How the Hawks got ‘punched hard’ and never recovered in loss to Pistons


Five observations from the Hawks’ 118-95 wire-to-wire defeat at the hands of the Pistons Wednesday.

1. You can’t start a basketball much worse. The Hawks trailed by 24 points in the first quarter as the Pistons hit shot after shot. The Pistons led 42-18 after one quarter as they shot 16 of 26 from the field, including 6 of 7 from 3-point range. The Hawks were just 7 of 16 from the field and had six turnovers.

With 5:28 remaining in the opening quarter, and the Hawks trailing 21-8, coach Mike Budenholzer subbed out his four remaining starters as Malcolm Delaney, Mike Dunleavy, Mike Scott and Kris Humphries entered. They joined Tim Hardaway Jr. who had already subbed for Paul Millsap after two early fouls.

“They punched us,” Millsap said. “Punched us hard. We weren’t able to come back from that.”

The 42 point tied the most allowed by the Hawks in any quarter this season, equaling what they allowed to the Raptors on Dec. 3.

Millsap was the only starter with any first-quarter points. He and Hardaway had eight points each – 89 percent of the offense.

2. The Pistons destroyed the Hawks on the boards. There is no other way to put it. They held a 27-12 advantage in the first half, including 11-2 on the offensive glass. By the end of the game, the Pistons outrebounded the Hawks 60-32, including 18-8 on the offensive end.

“I can’t remember the last time (outrebounded) 60-32,” Budenholzer said. “It’s just indicative. They were just better than us.”

Every Piston who played more than 2:30 had at least three rebounds. Andre Drummond had 17 and Marcus Morris had 10.

For the Hawks, center Dwight Howard had just four points and three rebounds.

3. The Pistons did damage from 3-point range. They finished with game 10 of 25 from long range. It was the 6 of 7 start in the first quarter that put the Hawks in a hole from which there was no extrication.

“We just didn’t come ready to play,” Hardaway said. “Give them credit. That’s what happens when they come out, make a couple of open shots and then started making tough ones. It really sucks the air out of you.”

4. They Hawks made adjustment after adjustment. Nothing work. Budenholzer even attempted the Hack-a-Drummond strategy with five minutes left in third and his team trailing 84-59. It didn’t last.

“I would say we tried everything,” Budenholzer said. “We couldn’t find anything that worked for us.”

5. It should be noted that the Pistons the regular-season series against the Hawks, 2-1. Their two victories came by a combined 59 points.

“I don’t want to say they give us problems,” Millsap said. “The reality is they cause us problems.”

It will be worth watching in the second half of the season if a potential Eastern Conference playoff series.

“They just played hard,” Hardaway said. “They played very, very hard. They get the best of us. We have to match their intensity. If they don’t match their intensity, or anybody in this league, you are going to get blown out.”



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