Hawks-Pistons Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 03, 2013
The Atlanta Hawks defeated Detroit in double overtime last week, but that loss has spurred the Pistons' longest winning streak of the season. To extend its run to four, Detroit will have to knock off the Hawks at The Palace of Auburn Hills on Friday night. The Pistons (12-22) have dropped six of the last seven in this series, including a 126-119 setback in Atlanta on Dec. 26. They've since won the first three of a five-game homestand, beginning with last Friday's 10-point victory over Miami. Detroit's offense has clicked during the winning streak, shooting 52.4 percent and averaging 102.7 points - 8.3 more than its average in the first 31 games. The bench has been crucial, with Austin Daye hitting a 3-pointer with 11.5 seconds left to help seal a 103-97 victory over Sacramento on Tuesday. Daye and Will Bynum scored 13 and 15 points off the bench, respectively, and the team's entire reserve unit combined for 44. Detroit's bench is averaging 47.0 points since Dec. 28, ranking fourth in the league. After averaging 5.4 points in his first 20 games, Bynum is putting up 19.8 in his last four contests - including a season-high 31 against the Hawks. "Everybody chipping in and there is a lot of balance," said starting point guard Brandon Knight, who ranks second on his team with 14.1 ppg and is tied for the team lead with 4.6 assists. "I have to congratulate my teammates for the way we've been playing together and how guys have been stepping it up and really doing their part. I think that is what is getting us a boost, especially our second unit, so we definitely have to congratulate those guys." Rookie Andre Drummond has also emerged lately as he receives more playing time. Drummond is averaging 9.3 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks over his last six games with the Pistons winning five times. The ninth overall pick in June's draft, Drummond was expected by some to make slower progress after averaging 10.0 points and 7.6 rebounds as a freshman for Connecticut last season. "I'm not getting as fatigued anymore," Drummond told the Pistons' official website. "I'm getting a lot more used to the game. It's starting to come a little easier. I know the pace of the game." The Hawks (20-10) are 3-1 since their first meeting with Detroit and also boast an offense playing well of late, particularly in terms of 3-point shooting. Atlanta is shooting 45.1 percent from beyond the arc while making an average of 11 3-pointers over its last five games. The Hawks are also 5-1 since Lou Williams' insertion in the starting lineup. Williams is averaging 16.8 points in those games while hitting 42.1 percent of his 3-point attempts. "Lou has done a phenomenal job since I've inserted him in the starting lineup," coach Larry Drew told the team's official website. "He's a guy that can score. ... We'll stay with that. It's been working for us so there's no need to change that." John Jenkins, Atlanta's own first-round pick, has also been a stronger contributor lately. He only played in 11 of the team's first 26 games but is averaging 9.3 points over his last four while playing 17.0 minutes. "I have to do a better job of getting him in games and getting him more playing time because when he gets in games he affects the game," Drew said. "The guy can make shots, he's good off the dribble, he can get to the basket." Atlanta's Josh Smith, who averages a team-high 16.9 points and 8.3 rebounds, had 31 points and 10 boards in the first meeting with the Pistons.
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