The Detroit Pistons just finished getting blown out twice by the Indiana Pacers. The Atlanta Hawks were looking to continue the trend against Detroit.
The Pistons were still missing the injured Brandon Knight and Andre Drummond, and were also missing dynamo point guard Will Bynum who was suspended a game for his flagrant 2 foul on Indiana's Tyler Hansbrough.
Detroit had an early 23-16 lead as Rodney Stuckey, Kyle Singler, and Greg Monroe were getting easy buckets inside. Atlanta then ended the quarter on an 11-1 run to take a 27-24 lead after one. Al Horford and Josh Smith pushed around Monroe and Jason Maxiell down low. Devin Harris ended the quarter on a 3 and that set the tone for the rest of the game.
The Hawks were on fire from downtown. Kyle Korver? Knock down. Jeff Teague? Bang. DeShawn Stevenson? You know it. How about Smith? Yes. Even Horford knocked down a deep 3. His first 3 of the season. No matter what the Pistons did defensively, the Hawks knocked down tough shots all night. The short handed Pistons offense couldn't keep up.
Jose Calderon struggled with his shot for the third straight game, and Kim English and Khris Middleton aren't exactly going to carry an offense.
The one guy who provided a spark was Jonas Jerebko. Jerebko, who has fallen out of coach Lawrence Frank's rotation, was very good. He had 16 points in the 4th quarter. He was getting after it defensively, moving his feet, getting into position, and crashing the boards. He only had five points through three, but he had 16 in the 4th.
He had a tip-in and a jumper and then he threw a Will Bynum-like pass to Singler for a layup. Then he answered the Horford 3 with a 3 of his own. The Pistons were down 107-92, but Jerebko played hard. So did the rest of the Pistons as they tried to create some kind of momentum for Wednesday's game in the nation's capital.
Singler missed a jumper but Jerebko came flying in for a dunk. After an Atlanta miss, Singler through an alley-oop to Jerebko. Slava Kravtsov then had a steal. He kicked it Jonas who threw it behind his back for a Slava jam. He then had an acrobatic layup while being fouled. Jerebko was terrific. The Pistons fell 114-103 but Jerebko showed he deserves more minutes.
Stuckey had 22 for Detroit and Jerebko had 21 with 16 coming in the 4th. You want a bright spot? It's Jonas Jerebko.
Overall this team struggles to score without penetrating guards like Knight and Bynum. They're also missing a spark plug like Drummond. One guy who could become that energetic spark plug is Jerebko. He played well tonight and he completely outplayed Jason Maxiell. Maxiell was a non-factor and he's been a non-factor since the calendar turned to 2013. If I'm Frank I give Jerebko more minutes. When Drummond comes back, which could be within the next week, I start Drummond and have Jerebko and Maxiell coming off the bench as energy guys. I think that's the way to go.
Knowing Frank? That won't happen, but hey who knows?