Pistons take down Hawks
Visitors seize control early en route to second straight win
Atlanta — Sometimes, the schedule just works in a team’s favor. The Pistons got what they needed, just when they needed it.
After a slow start to their season, the Pistons’ schedule provided the rebuilding Atlanta Hawks to help squelch their struggles.
The Pistons pounced early, built a double-digit lead in the first five minutes and never let the Hawks back in the game, cruising to a 124-109 victory on Friday night at State Farm Arena. It’s the second straight win for the Pistons (6-5), who had season bests of 40 points after the first quarter and 74 at halftime.
Andre Drummond had 23 points and 11 rebounds, Stanley Johnson 22 points and seven rebounds and Blake Griffin added six points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
The Pistons took control in the opening minutes, hitting their first three shots — a 3pointer from Reggie Jackson (10 points), a lay-in by Drummond and a 3-pointer by Reggie Bullock — in the first 1:03, to pull ahead, 8-3.
The Hawks (3-9) got a jumper from Omari Spellman (14 points) but the Pistons responded with a 10-0 run — with two jumpers from Bullock and two baskets from Drummond — and expanded it to an 18-3 spurt with a 3pointer and jumper from Glenn Robinson III (12 points) and another 3-pointer from Bullock, for a 26-8 margin.
The Pistons raced to a 20point lead by the end of the quarter, as Drummond notched 12 points and three rebounds and Bullock had 10 points.
The rout continued into the second half, when the Pistons’ lead ballooned to 103-77 and they were able to play mostly reserves in the third quarter.
Here are some other observations from Friday’s win:
1. Blake Griffin showed other sides to his game, looking actively to find open teammates and grab rebounds instead of scoring. Rather than take open shots himself, he ran the offense and waited for plays to develop, helping to build toward his nine assists.
He seemed intent on getting others involved, especially Reggie Bullock, who had been struggling with his shot in recent games. After scoring one point in the first half, Griffin got going, but didn’t get close to a tripledouble, after sitting from the middle of the third quarter on.
2. Stanley Johnson had a second strong game. He had been struggling from 3-point range, but in the past two games seems to have found a better rhythm with the second unit, playing more in transition and free flowing with the offense in that group. He played more minutes as the power forward with the reserves and looked more comfortable than with the starters. Johnson may have found his role.
3. Bullock ended his shooting slump with 13 points, including 3-of-6 on 3-pointers. Sidelined by injuries for a week, Bullock returned to his better form. The key was getting hot early in the game and establishing a rhythm. From there, he was able to cruise, with a couple more baskets inside the arc.
4. Langston Galloway continued his offensive onslaught, with another good shooting game, pouring in 16 points, including 5of-9 on 3-pointers.
He also has settled into a nice role as the primary shooter on the second group. In just 24 minutes, he found a rhythm and Casey is lauding his defense as well.
5. Drummond had another solid game but his energy and efficiency are becoming more apparent. He finished 10-of-15 from the field, calmly chose shots and attacked the rim. He also got more aggressive on the defensive end, totaling four blocks.
Stanley Johnson netted 22 points and seven rebounds in Detroit’s victory on Friday in Atlanta.