The Atlanta Hawks snapped the Detroit Pistons’ five-game winning streak with a 112-95 win Saturday night behind Paul Milsap’s 23 points and nine rebounds and Jeff Teague’s 12 points and 12 assists.
Milsap, who left the game in the fourth quarter with a deep cut over his left eye, was brilliant through the first 3 quarters and responded with clutch baskets every time the Pistons made a run.
“Obviously, he had a monster game,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Fortunately, we had a little bit of a lead when it happened and we were able to close it out. Hopefully he’ll be OK.”
The Hawks outpaced Detroit early in the game and never gave up the lead, leading by as many as 20 points during the final quarter. They’ve now won 13 of their last 16 games, putting them one game in front of the Miami Heat for first place in the Southeast Division.
Eight Hawks players scored in double figures, resulting in a season-high eight straight games, scoring over 100 points.
“Hey look, I’ve been here two years,” said Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy, “I don’t know if you’ve heard this out of me yet — and I’m not saying I was happy with the way we played, obviously we didn’t’ play well — but, it was about them. That’s a very good team that’s really hitting their stride and played terrific about both ends tonight.”
Before the game, Van Gundy expressed his concerns about the inside-outside abilities of Milsap and other Atlanta big Al Horford. He proved to be right, as the Piston’s bigs Andre Drummond and Aron Baynes just did not have the foot speed to close out on players from behind the 3-point line. Milsap and Horford not only spotted up for open 3s, but carved right down the middle of the Detroit defense whenever they wanted.
Horford had high praises for his teammate after the game, calling the All-Star forward “huge” in the victory and that it was “good to see him playing with that type of rhythm again.”
Milsap and the Hawks will have to continue playing with that same rhythm over the next few games if they want to continue their hot streak. Two of the their next three opponents on the schedule are the Toronto Raptors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the top two teams in the Eastern conference.
The Hawks are peaking at just the right point of the season, so they should be able to compete with the Raptors and the Cavaliers. Van Gundy saw Saturday night at the Palace just how good this Atlanta team can be when they get their act together, and expressed his thoughts on the Hawks after the game:
“That team has a lot to play for. They have really high aspirations. They understand what it’s all about. We are trying to learn that. (They) are starting to play like the team that won 60 last year.”
— Martinsek (@IAmMartinsek) March 27, 2016
Apparently, the Hawks’ team bus left Jeff Teague stranded behind at the Detroit Piston’s arena after the game. A reddit user posted a picture of Teague on his cell phone standing outside the arena in street clothes. Teague confirmed that he had indeed been left behind, posting the same picture to his Instagram.
[Photo by Carlos Osorio/AP Images]