'We didn't play smart': Pistons squander 17-point lead in OT loss to Hawks

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
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After losing three of their last four games, the Pistons were looking to finish the last game of their three-game road trip in Miami and Atlanta.

They had an impressive win in the first game and lost a 19-point lead in the second half but had one of their best games of the season in Monday’s matchup against the Hawks.

That is, until they let another lead slip away.

The Pistons led by 17 points midway through the fourth quarter and they couldn’t hold on, falling to 123-115 overtime loss on Wednesday night at State Farm Arena.

Jerami Grant led the Pistons with a career-high 32 points, along with six rebounds and five assists. Grant scored all nine of the Pistons’ points in overtime — and it was his 13th straight game with 20-plus points, but it wasn’t enough.

Blake Griffin added 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists, Wayne Ellington 16 points and Derrick Rose 14 points for the Pistons (3-11).

BOX SCORE: Hawks 123, Pistons 115, OT

“It stings and it hurts because the guys played their hearts out. We didn't play smart down the stretch,” coach Dwane Casey said. “It's not from a lack of competing — and that's one thing these guys are doing. Now, we have to have attention to detail and basketball IQ in certain situations.”

The Pistons had their biggest lead, 99-82, with 7:09 left and appeared to be on their way to an easy victory, but Trae Young (38 points and 10 assists) carried them down the stretch with eight points, fueling a 24-7 run to finish regulation.

The Hawks (7-7) got within 103-101 after two free throws from John Collins (31 points and 11 rebounds) but Griffin answered with a highlight-reel reverse lay-in and was fouled. Griffin completed the three-point play, but the Pistons didn’t score again in the final 1:04 of regulation.

Young converted three of four free throws and on their last possession of regulation, he found Clint Capela (27 points, 26 rebounds and five blocks) for an easy dunk to knot the game at 106. Grant had a final shot attempt, but Collins blocked it as the buzzer sounded.

In overtime, Grant scored the Pistons’ first five points, and again, they looked to be on their way to a win, but Capela scored on a putback and Solomon Hill hit a 3-pointer to tie it. After two free throws from Grant, Collins made two of three free throws, Capela converted a three-point play, part of a 10- run that put the game away in the final minute of overtime.

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) and center Clint Capela (15) celebrate a basket in overtime of the team's 123-115 victory over the Pistons.

Part of what helped the Hawks get back into the game was going to the free-throw line and getting some easy points, allowing them to chip away at the lead and get their defense set. Casey noted Young’s ability to get in the lane and get fouled, which the Pistons couldn’t find answers to slow down.

“It broke our rhythm once we marched them to the free-throw line so much and then we're coming down and playing against a set defense,” Casey said. “It hurts, but we're building calluses from this and like I told him, we got to maintain the intensity and now put IQ and decision-making into competition.”

rod.beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter.com: @detnewsRodBeard

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