The Atlanta Hawks were the fairy tale story of the NBA last season. They won 60 games, had the Coach of the Year in Mike Budenholzer along with a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. A new season has arrived, and Atlanta is looking to return to the ECF and put themselves in a position to be NBA Finals contenders.
In the Hawks' season opener against the Pistons, things went downhill. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Andre Drummond excelled, as the entire starting lineup for Detroit scored in double figures.
In the first quarter, the Pistons took a trip to the free-throw line, which led to a quick 12-6 advantage. Caldwell-Pope heated up and soon the Pistons lead grew to 10. Atlanta managed to tie the game late in the quarter as newly-acquired Hawk Lamar Patterson knocked down a three. Paul Millsap was a major factor in the Hawks' comeback, as he totaled 10 points and went 4 of 6 for the quarter.
The Hawks regained the lead early in the second quarter on a Dennis Schroder layup. Atlanta was on a 14-0 run at that point, and the Pistons went five minutes without points.
Thabo Sefolosha made his return from an injury and was efficient in the first half on the defensive end, as he forced many deflections and loose balls. A Caldwell-Pope three pointer later on in the quarter gave Detroit the lead to go up 42-39 with 2:43 left in the half. Detroit led 48-43 at halftime.
Both teams got out to a slow start in the third quarter, as they each went 0 for 4. The Pistons regained their rhythm and continued to receive help from Drummond and Caldwell Pope, as they lead 82-66 after three quarters. Caldwell-Pope totaled 21 points for the game and Drummond had a double-double with 18 points and 19 rebounds.
The Hawks attempted a rally in the fourth quarter, but the Pistons' offensive rebounding was too efficient to overcome. A pair of free throws by the Hawks' Jeff Teague with 1:59 left in the game made it a 96-88 score, but Detroit kept cleaning up the glass and burning the clock which resulted in an impressive 106-94 victory.
Atlanta seems to be definitely missing the presence of DeMarre Carroll. Dennis Schroder led the way for the Hawks with 20 points but there was no efficient scorer on the floor. The Hawks should also have played Walter Tavares. The seven-footer's presence would've made up for Atlanta's lack of rebounding, especially in the fourth quarter. 23 total offensive rebounds were allowed by the Hawks tonight.
The Atlanta Hawks will look to get their first win of the season on October 29 against the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden in primetime on TNT. The Pistons will face the Utah Jazz in their home opener tomorrow night.