The Atlanta Hawks have lost four straight games. The Detroit Pistons have dropped five in a row.
One of those teams will snap their winless streak on Friday when they square off at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.
The Pistons’ slide has been more surprising, considering they were a playoff team a year ago. They had three days of practice to get ready for their most recent game before dropping a 109-89 decision in Chicago on Wednesday.
“Defensively, it was a lack of effort (Wednesday),” guard Langston Galloway said. “It was embarrassing. It really is embarrassing. We’ve got to step it up. We’ve got to take it to a whole new level and just, it’s a tough one. We’ve got to be better. We’ll get better.”
Detroit made just 8 of 33 attempts from 3-point range and coach Dwane Casey saw his team’s offensive futility impact its defensive effort.
“I thought our missed shots took our defensive energy, what little (energy) we had,” Casey said. “Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. Whoever is healthy, whoever can go, whoever can play, it’s up to us to strap it up and be ready to fight. We can’t get any lower as a team.”
The Pistons need their best player, Blake Griffin, to get back into a groove after sitting out 11 of their first 14 games. In the three games he’s played since recovering from hamstring and knee injuries, Griffin is averaging 18.0 points in 27.7 minutes while shooting 34.8 percent overall and 18.8 percent from long distance.
Detroit has played most of the season without point guard Reggie Jackson (back). Starting small forward Tony Snell (hip) sat out against the Bulls.
“It’s been tough to try and figure out who’s playing with who, who can be the right lineup at the right time to give us a boost, a spark. But right now, we’ve just got to find it,” Galloway said. “We’ve got to dig deep down and figure out a way to win some games and get back on track.”
Poor defense has also hampered the youthful Hawks, who have surrendered an average of 133.75 points per game during their losing streak. Reigning Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo gouged them for 33 points in a 135-127 loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday.
The Bucks took control by scoring 38 points in the third quarter.
“In the third quarter, I just thought we had no answer for Giannis,” coach Lloyd Pierce said. “He just started putting his head down. We didn’t have the gaps closed, defensively, and he was getting in the paint and getting to the foul line. We just didn’t have an answer for him when he played with a little sense of urgency.”
A positive development for the Hawks was the outburst by rookie forward De’Andre Hunter, who notched a double-double with a season-high 27 points and 11 rebounds.
“I was just in rhythm,” Hunter told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “To hit my first couple shots definitely helps a lot and I was just confident.”
Second-year point guard Trae Young made just one 3-pointer but it was a different story when the Hawks faced Detroit in the team’s season opener. He drained six of 10 3-pointers en route to 38 points in a 117-100 victory.
The Hawks are playing without shooting guard Kevin Huerter, who is sidelined until at least next month with a shoulder injury.
–Field Level Media