'We didn't have it': Pistons fall to Hawks, below .500
Detroit — Down the stretch, it wasn’t Blake Griffin who carried the Pistons. It wasn’t even Andre Drummond or Reggie Jackson.
Or any starter.
Enter Langston Galloway.
With the Pistons trailing by double digits, Galloway got going, scoring all of the Pistons’ points in the first six-plus minutes of the fourth quarter to help fuel a comeback.
It wasn’t enough, though, as the Pistons couldn’t get all the way back from a 17-point deficit, taking a 98-95 loss to the struggling Atlanta Hawks on Sunday afternoon at Little Caesars Arena. It’s the ninth loss in the last 11 games for the Pistons (15-16), who fell below the .500 mark for the second time this season.
“We didn’t have it — and it’s sad because we had one of our better games, against Minnesota, since I’ve been here,” coach Dwane Casey said. “Getting that consistency, that approach — we’re searching for it and today is a great example of (only) bringing it in the fourth quarter. The game is not won in one quarter.
“If you let a team hang around with 11 turnovers in the first half, you put yourself in a tough position, where every play, every shot and every free throw is important — and it shouldn’t come to that.”
Galloway finished with 16 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, Jackson added 16 points and five assists. Griffin scored 15 and Drummond had 13 points and 15 rebounds.
With the Pistons trailing 92-91, Griffin had a chance to take the lead with 23 seconds remaining but missed two free throws and the Hawks (9-23) never relinquished the lead the rest of the way.
“We were just bad for three quarters and we put ourselves in the hole and we didn’t get it done at the end,” Griffin said. “We’ve just got to be better — I’ve got to be better — and make shots when the team depends on them.”
The Pistons trailed by three in the final seconds, but Galloway looked to find the first open shot and it was a lay-in that was blocked and the Hawks were able to get the rebound, dousing the last real chance the Pistons had.
The Hawks made five of six free throws in the final stretch.
The Pistons got all the way back, following Galloway’s flourish with a 3-pointer by Jackson, a putback by Zaza Pachulia and two free throws from Griffin to cut the lead to 88-87 at the 2:55 mark.
Vince Carter (18 points and seven rebounds) hit a fadeaway jumper but Galloway answered with a floater to stay within one. Jeremy Lin hit a reverse lay-in and Jackson scored two free throws before Griffin’s big misses.
“I think that we just have to get out of this slump right now,” Galloway said. “I think that it’s being able to figure out a way to come out with a lot more energy. We found energy in the fourth quarter and tried to battle back. We have to have that all four quarters.”
1. The Pistons’ offensive woes are well-documented, but they seem to be hitting a new low in the past couple games. The loss in Charlotte came with 86 points and some concerns about the variety of offense that they run beyond isolation plays for Griffin. It showed again Sunday, hitting only 35 percent on 3-pointers and struggling to make open shots.
2. Luke Kennard started the game but didn’t open the third quarter. Casey said it wasn’t injury-related, but Kennard didn’t return to the game and had both knees wrapped as he sat on the bench. The Pistons continue to struggle at the wing positions, with Glenn Robinson III (ankle sprain) still sidelined. Kennard has had one good game with the starting unit; it seems that Kennard has a better groove going with the second unit, where he’s better able to play with an open floor.
3. Casey went with more minutes for Pachulia over Jon Leuer in the second group, as Alex Len was a bigger presence inside. Pachulia held his own and finished with seven points and eight rebounds in 19 minutes. Leuer had been playing well in his stints, so it doesn’t look to be related to performance, but matchups.
4. The Pistons again were streaky in their shooting and like the Hornets loss, they had to try to overcome a double-digit deficit down the stretch in the fourth quarter. It was a carbon copy against the Hawks, who raced out to the lead in the second quarter and kept the Pistons at bay.
5. Drummond didn’t play down the stretch of the fourth quarter but returned in the final minute when the Pistons had a chance to tie it. Drummond usually plays in the final minutes of games, even when he’s struggling defensively, but this was a different tactic that hadn’t been used much.