Pistons-Hawks Preview

The Associated Press

The Atlanta Hawks took a big step forward in their quest for a playoff berth last time out.

They would appear to have a good chance to inch even closer with the Detroit Pistons coming to town.

Atlanta goes for an 11th consecutive home win over the road-challenged Pistons on Tuesday night.

The Hawks (34-42) are seeking a third straight victory overall after easily winning 107-88 at Indiana on Sunday. Jeff Teague stayed hot with 25 points as Atlanta shot over 56.0 percent for the second consecutive game.

"I thought we were super locked in," said forward Kyle Korver, whose team shot 58.5 percent in Friday's 117-98 win over Cleveland. "We're fighting for a playoff spot and we came out like that."

Atlanta held a 55-23 edge after two quarters, limiting the Pacers to their lowest scoring first half in franchise history.

"It was a must-win for us tonight," said Teague, averaging 22.0 points while shooting 53.5 percent in three games this month. "We came out hungry, we came out with energy and we came out with passion."

The Hawks are two games ahead of New York for eighth place in the Eastern Conference after the Knicks lost earlier in the day. Atlanta has three fewer defeats than New York, which only has four games remaining.

"We're genuinely more focused on building our habits and improving," coach Mike Budenholzer said. "If we do what we talk about each day, those things will take care of themselves."

The Hawks have certainly taken care of business against the Pistons at home, winning 10 in a row in the series while yielding 91.0 points per game. Detroit's last win in Atlanta was in 2008.

The Pistons had dropped three straight and six of seven to Atlanta overall before pulling out a 115-107 home win Feb. 21 with Teague on the sidelines. Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond combined for 42 points and 26 rebounds while former Hawks star Josh Smith posted 17 and 10.

A repeat performance could be hard to come by on the road, where Detroit has dropped 16 of 17 while allowing 110.8 points per game. Atlanta is 17-3 at home this season when scoring more than 100.

The Pistons (28-49) improved to 3-10 in their last 13 with Saturday's 115-111 win over Boston. Rodney Stuckey had 26 points off the bench, Monroe scored 21 and Brandon Jennings added 20.

Andre Drummond dominated the paint with 19 points and 20 rebounds as Detroit stormed back from 19 down in the third quarter.

"We were getting stops when we needed to, we were sharing the ball and making open shots and just playing good basketball," forward Jonas Jerebko said.

Rookie Peyton Siva dished out a team-high five assists off the bench and earned high praise for doing the little things.

"If you don't go home with a better appreciation for Peyton Siva, you really didn't watch the game," interim coach John Loyer said. "He was very, very good. You expect good things from Peyton because he prepares so hard. If he's not the first guy in the gym, I guarantee he's the last to leave."

Smith, who spent the first nine seasons of his career with Atlanta before joining Detroit in the offseason, has been limited to 9.3 points per game and 30.8 percent shooting in three matchups against his former team.

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