The slumping Atlanta Hawks traveled to play the Detroit Pistons Friday night, and the main thing the Hawks were looking for in this matchup was a solid start. So many of their games have gotten away from them in the first quarter this season, and the seven game losing streak was obviously taking a mental toll. When the Hawks jumped out to a 22-19 lead in the first quarter, even without the help of Jeff Teague who was nursing the injury from Wednesday night, I think every fan was summarily excited.
Making matters even more surprising, the Hawks put on an offensive display unlike anything I’ve seen in the second quarter. The team managed to outscore Detroit 41-33 with some absolutely dominant play by Mike Scott off the bench. Mike came into the game and immediately made an impact by scoring 8 points in a row for the Hawks. Then, the rest of the team got in on the act. In fact, the Hawks as a team shot a stunning 16 of 19 from the field in the second quarter alone. Everything was going in the hoop, regardless of who was shooting. It was like watching an entirely different team from the one that languished through the Wizards game this week.
But like all things on a terrible losing streak, the percentages come back to bite you eventually. The Hawks came out of the locker room ice cold in the third quarter, getting outscored 34-20 by the Pistons. As if to directly mirror how easy shots were falling in the second quarter, everything was a Herculean struggle in the third. The Hawks didn’t even make a single shot from the field until 7:30 left in the third quarter, and they turned the ball over twice before that. The only thing that kept them in the game was the All-Star Paul Millsap draining two back-to-back 3′s to stanch the bleeding.
That meant the Hawks trailed by 3 going into the fourth quarter, a complete turnaround from their 11 point lead at the half. With only 8 active players, and a large monkey on their back, the question was whether the Hawks could man up on the road and steal a game. The Hawks traded buckets with the Pistons, dancing around a 2 point deficit for the majority of the quarter. With the clock working against them, somebody was going to have to step up and tie the game. That man was Mike Scott. He managed to put back-to-back buckets together to knot the game at 102 a piece, and 3 minutes left to play.
Unfortunately, the Hawks just couldn’t stop the Pistons down the stretch. After trading more points, Singler nailed a 3, Bynum put up a 2 and 1, and Detroit found itself up 6 with a minute to go. Even though the Hawks battled hard, there just wasn’t enough time to mount a final comeback. Hawks shot 46% from the floor, but Detroit ended up with a robust 54%. The fact the game was as close as it was is a testament to the Hawks making 13 3-pointers in the match. Mike Scott was the player of the game in a losing effort, with a career high 20 points off the bench. It just wasn’t enough as the “Misery Streak” extends to 8 losses in a row.
The Hawks will be back in action after a quick turnaround, as they face-off with the New York Knicks on Saturday night in Philips Arena. Stay tuned.