ATLANTA — The Pistons are short-handed most nights, which has become routine down the final stretch of the regular season. However, that fact becomes more glaring when they face opponents with prominent frontcourts, especially without two of their best big men.
Detroit couldn’t keep the Atlanta Hawks off the offensive glass, which led to their downfall in a 129-107 loss — its fourth consecutive defeat.
Clint Capela was primarily responsible for Atlanta’s dominance on the boards. He grabbed 16 rebounds, 12 of which were on the offensive side of the ball, which contributed to extra possessions. He added 12 points. Overall, the Hawks finished with a 61-35 rebounding edge over the Pistons.
Trae Young led the Hawks with a double-double of 30 points and 12 assists. He made his living at the free-throw line, finishing 13 of 15 from the line. Ex-Pistons forward Saddiq Bey added 14 points and 11 rebounds in his first game against his former team.
Marvin Bagley III led Detroit with 26 points, eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks. He connected on four of his five attempts from 3-point range. His four makes were a season-high.
Killian Hayes added 21 points and four assists. Jaden Ivey had 15 points and five assists. His final basket was scored with three seconds left in the game, which caused Young and John Collins to share words with him after the game. The teams were eventually separated, marking the end of an ugly game.
Here are a few more observations from Tuesday’s loss:
Killian’s explosive first quarter
Hayes has appeared to have found his stride again, similar to his confident play prior to the Pistons’ trip to Paris. He entered Tuesday’s game averaging 14 points, 9.8 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. In the first quarter of Tuesday’s loss, Hayes was the guiding force on offense for the Pistons alongside Marvin Bagley. Hayes scored 15 of his 21 points in the first quarter. His two 3-pointers were in the first 12 minutes of play, including a triple on a 4-on-1 fast break. Hayes’s production tempered for the rest of the game, which didn’t help the Pistons in the long run.
Since returning from injury, Bagley has provided Detroit with an interior scoring presence that was needed with so many of its rotation players unavailable. On Tuesday, Bagley began the game by showing his range as he knocked down a pair of triples in the first quarter. He finished the first half with 17 points, leading all scorers going into the break. Not only was Bagley efficient on the offensive end, he showed a bit of his defensive prowess midway through the second quarter when he had a chase-down block on Trae Young, which led to a transition 3-pointer for RJ Hampton. The Pistons have a plethora of big men and since Wiseman’s addition, Bagley is showing why Pistons general manager Troy Weaver gave him a three-year extension last offseason.
Bey faces former team
There was a familiar face on the Hawks’ bench that used to occupy the Pistons locker room. Bey, who was coming off a rough three-game stretch, bounced back with a solid performance. He entered the game at the 4:23 mark of the first quarter and knocked down his first 3 from the top of the key from first in the first quarter and threw up the 3-point sign and Bey entered at the 4:23 mark of the first quarter. He received more time in the second half after Atlanta gained a 20-point lead. The Pistons, who were well aware of his tendencies, wanted to run Bey off the 3-point line. He then showed that he was capable of scoring inside and attacking the glass. He even drained a fadeaway mid-range shot over Rodney McGruder. Bey doesn’t typically show much emotion, but he cracked a smile after that shot. He’ll have another opportunity to prove his old team wrong next season when he makes his return to Detroit.