Teague gets key block, Hawks stop Pistons

Dana Gauruder, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Jeff Teague played the role of facilitator in the first half on Friday night.
Teague became a scorer during the next 12 minutes and morphed into something no one expected in the late going -- the Atlanta Hawks' 6-foot-2 point guard made a game-changing block.
Teague, who finished with 18 points and nine assists, led the Hawks to their second victory over the Detroit Pistons in three nights, 96-89, at The Palace.
Teague had all but one of his assists before halftime, then went on a 14-point outburst during the third quarter. But he saved his biggest play for crunch time.
With his team clinging to a 92-89 advantage, Teague had the ball stripped by counterpart Brandon Jennings. Teague stayed with the play and swatted Jennings' fast-break layup attempt, just his second block this season.
"He made a good play on the ball defensively," Teague said. "I just took my eye off it, trying to see what my options were before I made my move.
"I knew coach (Mike Budenholzer) was going to show it on film, so I had to make sure to get back and make an attempt on it, either foul him or make a good block, and I was able to meet him at the rim."
Center Al Horford supplied 17 points and 11 rebounds while forward Paul Millsap and guard Kyle Korver added 14 points apiece. Forward DeMarre Carroll chipped in 12 points for the Hawks (8-5) in the second half of a home-and-home series. Atlanta won the first meeting at home 93-85 on Wednesday.
"We're getting better," Teague said. "There have been games where we've been in that same situation and lost the game, so we're making strides. We're just trying to be a better team every game and that was a big step for us."
It was a giant step backward for Pistons forward and Teague's ex-teammate Josh Smith. Benched for missing a practice on Thursday, Smith went scoreless in 20 minutes while missing seven field-goal attempts. Smith, who played his first nine seasons with the Hawks, hadn't been shut out since Dec. 14, 2004 of his rookie season against Indiana.
"It was one of those things. As far as I can remember, Josh has always started the game," Horford said. "I knew his dad was not doing so well and that could have been on his mind a little bit. Josh is a great player. He's going to get it going. He's going to be fine."
Smith did not travel back with the team on Wednesday night and coach Mo Cheeks decided on the team plane to have a practice. Apparently, the message wasn't received by Smith, who was gone by the time the home locker room opened afterward. Cheeks indicated the disciplinary measure was for one game.
"Josh is one of our top players," he said. "He's not going to be on our bench. Things happen."
Second-year forward Kyle Singler had a career-high 22 points for Detroit (4-8) while starting in place of Smith. Drummond notched his seventh consecutive double-double with 15 points and 16 rebounds. Guard Rodney Stuckey added 17 points off the bench and Jennings dished out 14 assists but shot 4-for-16 from the field while scoring eight points.
"It's a long season but we can't keep using the same excuses," Drummond said. "We're a new team, we just have to come together, that's really what it boils down to. We just have to figure it out."
The Pistons took their final lead at 87-86 on Stuckey's free throws with 3:30 left. Carroll then scored five of the next six points, including a 3-pointer, to give his team a 92-87 lead. Detroit couldn't mount another threat from that point, thanks to Teague's defensive stop.
NOTES: Hawks SG Kyle Korver extended his streak of at least one made 3-pointer to 86 games, three shy of Dana Barros' NBA record. ... The Pistons were ranked last in defensive field-goal percentage (48.5), 3-point shooting (28.8 percent), and free throw shooting (69.6 percent). Coach Mo Cheeks is especially concerned with the defensive issues. "To be 30th, it is surprising," he said. "We've got to get better at closing out the paint and we've got to get better at defensive rebounding. Defensive rebounding is a big part of the defense. We get a lot of deflections and steals but it's not turning into the defense we really want." ... Guards Chauncey Billups (knee tendonitis) and Will Bynum (sore left hamstring) missed their fourth consecutive games for Detroit. ... Atlanta G Lou Williams did not make the trip. Williams, who tore his right ACL last season, is not playing back-to-backs as a precautionary measure. He will be available to play against Boston on Saturday.

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