Despite one of his best shooting efforts earlier this season, even the NBA’s super sub couldn’t lead the Hawks past a struggling Detroit Pistons team a little more than three months ago.
Crawford will try again to top the Pistons and give Atlanta its fourth straight home win in its return to Philips Arena on Saturday night.
The Hawks (41-23) were on the verge of suffering three consecutive defeats for just the second time Friday night, but Crawford matched a season high with 29 points in a 105-99 victory over Washington.
“He’s been fantastic all year. He’s a big part of what we do,” coach Mike Woodson said. “He’s made big shots for us. He’s run our offense. He’s put us in position where we are today.”
The veteran guard, second on the team with 17.5 points per game, has scored at least 20 points on 26 occasions, including the previous matchup with Detroit on Nov. 29. Crawford knocked down 8 of 12 shots and scored 20 points in that game, but the Hawks couldn’t recover from the Pistons’ 10-2 run to open the fourth quarter in a 94-88 defeat.
In his 10 seasons, the former Chicago Bulls player has won only five of 28 matchups with Detroit. The Hawks, however, could use one of those rare wins as they chase home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Atlanta is tied for third with Boston in the Eastern Conference, but has an opportunity to rack up victories as its next four opponents have a combined .370 winning percentage.
This time, Detroit (23-42) heads to an arena where it hasn’t won since Feb. 12, 2008. The Pistons have also dropped five in a row away from home, but are 2-1 since losing third-year guard Rodney Stuckey(notes) indefinitely.
Stuckey, who collapsed on the bench during a loss at Cleveland on March 5, was cleared to resume exercising but there’s currently no timeline for his return. He led the Pistons with 23 points - on 10-of-23 shooting - in the win over Atlanta.
He was the third player to reach that mark in the NBA this season, and it was the most for the Pistons since Isiah Thomas had 21 against the Washington Bullets on April 12, 1985.
“Obviously, Will was just great in place of Rodney tonight,” coach John Kuester said. “Twenty assists is a great accomplishment for anyone.”
Like Crawford, Bynum had one of his best shooting performances this season in the game against the Hawks, scoring 19 points off the bench while making 8 of 13 attempts.
The win snapped a three-game slide to Atlanta, but Detroit had won 30 of the previous 37 before that losing streak.