‘It’s a lot of fun’ – Pistons on fire again, score season-high 136 to rout Hawks
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ATLANTA – It says something about how thoroughly the Pistons dominated the home-town Hawks that the loudest roar of the night came midway though the fourth quarter with the Pistons ahead by 32 points. Andre Drummond, after missing his first free throw, inspired a thunderous roar. If he missed the second, their Hawks would still trail by 32 – but there’s be free Chik-fil-A for all!
Alas, Drummond sank his free throw and the crowd was left with nothing to cheer – or to eat, for that matter.
The Pistons had their best shooting performance in nearly 10 years when they scored a 116-103 win at Boston three nights earlier, hitting 60.3 percent. For 44 minutes, they were shooting even better than that against the Hawks. They settled for 59.3 percent and a season-best 136 points in a landslide win, holding the Hawks to 103.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Markieff Morris said of the sudden surge for a team riddled by injuries since the preseason. “We had a rough start to the season. To win two games back to back is a big lift for us. Everybody’s enjoying their time on the court playing together.”
Morris has been a big part of the uptick. He joined the lengthy injured list in late December, missing seven games with a sprained foot, then struggled mightily in his first two games back. But in his last two, Morris has scored 23 and 22 points and made 16 of 24 shots and 6 of 11 triples.
In fact, Morris, Derrick Rose and Svi Mykhailiuk have been brilliant in consecutive games. They combined to score 74 points in the rout of Atlanta, making 28 of 38 shots. Against Boston, they combined to score 66 points, making 26 of 36 shots.
Mykhailiuk set a new career high for the second straight game, topping his 21 at Boston with 25 to lead the Pistons. He knocked down 5 of 7 triples.
How hot is Mykhailiuk? In the third quarter, Langston Galloway – himself a nearly 40 percent 3-point shooter – passed up the most desired shot, an open corner three, to pass to Mykhailiuk for a longer wing three. Mykhailiuk, of course, drained it.
“Being unselfish is a big part of trying to help this team be better,” Galloway said. “I could’ve taken that plenty of times, but I know that the next pass with a guy like him shooting the ball really well right now, for his confidence it probably goes a lot further than for me shooting another shot and him saying, ‘whoa, he passed me up.’ ”
Galloway also scored in double figures off the bench with 14 and Christian Wood made it four double-digits reserves with 10 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots. The Pistons got 42 bench points in the first half alone and finished with 76. And Galloway wasn’t the only one being unselfish; the Pistons finished with 31 assists, led by Rose with nine and Tim Frazier with seven.
“The ball’s moving,” Dwane Casey said. “When you’re expecting the pass and the pass is coming – on time, on target – you’re shot-ready. I think when the ball doesn’t get kicked out or is not passed, shooters lose their rhythm and right now our shooters are in a rhythm. They’re expecting the pass, they’re open, the ball is getting to them. Nobody’s holding on to the ball.”
Rose, after making a perfect 11 of 11 inside the 3-point line at Boston, was 11 of 14 inside the arc at Atlanta and finished with 27 points in 26 minutes. Guess the heavy minutes he logged in two recent overtime games didn’t have any negative effect.
“I feel good,” Rose said. “I think they were just being cautious with me early on in the season. I keep showing them that I’m coming in, doing what I’m supposed to do, taking care of my body. I’ve been prepping for this all summer, so it’s finally just coming full circle.”
Rose toyed with Atlanta’s defense, getting into the paint with little resistance and either scoring at or near the rim or spinning the ball out to open shooters. The Pistons hit 15 of 32 3-pointers.
“The floor is open,” Rose said. “They’re going under screens. They go under, that’s a lot of space on the floor. I can beat you to a spot, turn the corner, so it’s no pressure at all. I’m in the lane and I’ve got shooters out there, so my job is to push it up, be aggressive and dish it whenever I see an opening.”
It was Rose’s second straight start and while Casey said on Friday that he’d still prefer to bring Rose off of the bench, he’s not about to mess with a good thing. The Pistons go for their first three-game win streak of the season in a Monday holiday matinee at Washington.
“Guys are playing together,” Casey said. “The chemistry, offensive and defensively, guys are communicating. Everybody’s holding on to the rope. That’s a big plus for us right now.”