Hot Hawks go for season sweep against Pistons

NBA

The surging Atlanta Hawks go for a sweep of the season series against the visiting Detroit Pistons on Monday when they start a three-game road trip and a stretch of five games in seven days.

The Hawks have won the two previous meetings against the Pistons this season. Atlanta won 128-120 on Dec. 28 and 123-115 in overtime on Jan. 20, sealing the outcome with a 9-2 run in the extra period.

Atlanta (34-27) has won two straight and 11 of its last 14. The Hawks defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 111-104 on Sunday and improved to seven games over .500 for the first time since March 2017, the last year they made the playoffs.

“This is what we’ve wanted,” said Atlanta forward John Collins. “We want to play the best we can going into the postseason.”

The Hawks have won two straight games without leading scorer Trae Young, out with a left ankle sprain. The scoring load has been shouldered by Bogdan Bogdanovic, who matched his season high with 32 points against the Bucks. He made six 3-pointers on Sunday, his 11th game with at least five. Since April 1, Bogdanovic has a league-best 63 treys.

Lou Williams scored all 15 of his points in the fourth quarter and made four 3s. It reinforced the reason the Hawks traded for the veteran guard at the deadline.

“That’s what you expect from veteran players,” Atlanta coach Nate McMillan said. “They have a bad first half or the ball doesn’t fall for them in the first half, they know that it’s the second half and they find a way to get themselves going.”

Atlanta continues to play through injury issues. In addition to Young, who is likely at least two weeks away from returning, the Hawks are without De’Andre Hunter (right knee soreness), Cam Reddish (right Achilles soreness), Tony Snell (right ankle sprain) and Kris Dunn (right ankle surgery).

The Pistons (18-43) have lost three straight and dropped seven of their last nine. Detroit was beaten 115-109 on Saturday at Indiana, the last of a three-game road trip that failed to yield a win. The Pistons had a 101-99 lead in the fourth quarter before the Pacers put the game away with a 12-0 run.

Jerami Grant leads the team in scoring at 22.6 points and averages 4.7 rebounds. He has led the team in scoring in 37 of 52 games played.

Detroit outrebounded Indiana 62-39, but committed 18 turnovers, leading to 22 points.

“I think we outcompeted them in a lot of areas,” Detroit coach Dwane Casey said. “But the turnovers are the difference. … Some of them were just unconscionable, as far as the decisions with the ball and we’ve got to learn. In these last few games, we have to understand time, score and situation and what’s open.”

Detroit has gotten outstanding play from its bench. The reserves are averaging a league-leading 41.9 points, the second-highest total in franchise history. Wayne Ellington (9.7 points), Hamidou Diallo (8.2) and Isaiah Stewart (7.4) are the top contributors.

The Hawks have split five back-to-backs this season, swept both games three times and lost both games three times.

–Field Level Media

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