Pistons seek form reversal versus Hawks
The shine has worn off the Blake Griffin trade.
The Detroit Pistons seemed revitalized after acquiring the five-time All-Star power forward from the Los Angeles Clippers. They reeled off five straight victories and got back in the playoff race.
In a stretch of three games in four days, the Pistons reverted to their previous form. They lost to the Clippers, Atlanta and New Orleans and had their defense shredded in the process. They've given up 118 points in their last two outings, much to the dismay of coach Stan Van Gundy.
They'll try to end the slide against Atlanta on Wednesday.
"We haven't deserved to win the last couple of games," Van Gundy said. "When you don't bring the defense and the fight, guys will own up now after the game. There were four, five, six loose balls when nobody goes on the floor. There are three or four times we don't get back and people are behind us defensively. Times when we're not pulling in on the roll man. Those things are inexcusable when you're trying to win."
The offense also hasn't been crisp. Griffin is shooting 38.6 percent during the skid and has misfired on 18 of 23 3-point attempts. He committed five turnovers against the Pelicans.
The inability to find a free-flowing offense has contributed to the defensive malaise, according to Griffin's frontcourt partner, Andre Drummond.
"I think we just really need to get back to focusing on defense," he said. "I think we allowed, including myself, we allowed our offensive play, our frustration of missing shots and just different things going on throughout the game to really get away from our defense. That's kind of what we anchor ourselves on."
The Hawks shot 48.7 percent from the field and scored 36 fourth-quarter points to rally past the Pistons 118-115 on Sunday in Atlanta. Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon equaled his career high with 20 points and also grabbed 13 rebounds.
"Just trying to be aggressive, trying to change the game and do what I do," Dedmon said afterward. "The ball was finding me, so it was good."
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer was proud of his team after that victory.
"You look at the top 10 in offense and defense, and they're there since Blake Griffin arrived," he said. "They're well-coached and have a great player in Griffin now. For our guys to step up and make plays on both ends of the court, good for our fans to see."
Atlanta (18-40) couldn't keep the good vibes going Tuesday as it lost at Milwaukee 97-92. The Hawks have only won five road games.
This will be the last game before the All-Star break for both teams and Van Gundy says his team can't afford to look ahead.
"We have a game Wednesday," he said. "Enough with that, you can't just limp into the break. We need to get a win and keep ourselves as close in this thing as we can to have a chance to make a run."
Updated February 13, 2018