This was not the start the Hawks wanted.
The Hawks fell behind by as many as 19 points and dropped a 106-94 decision to the Pistons in the season opener at Philips Arena Tuesday night.
Andre Drummond had 18 points and 19 rebounds for the Pistons. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 21 points and Marcus Morris added 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Dennis Schroder led the Hawks with 20 points. Paul Millsap added 19 points and eight rebounds.
The Hawks allowed far too many outside shots by the Pistons – who capitalized. All five starters scored in double figures and four made at least one 3-pointer. In all, the Pistons were 41.4 percent (12 of 29) from 3-point range. Through the third quarter they shot 52.2 percent (12 of 23) from deep in building a significant lead.
“I think we had some miscues,” Kyle Korver said. “Andre Drummond in the pick-and-roll game, the weakside has to be there to help when he’s rolling to the basket. We got out of sync. In a lot of ways it looked like our first game of the season.”
Woeful third quarter
The Hawks were outscored 34-23 in the third quarter as the Pistons upped their lead to as many as 19 points. The Pistons shot 50 percent from the field (12 of 24) and 57 percent (4 of 7) from 3-point range. The Hawks shot 45 percent (9 of 20) and 31 percent (4 of 13) from 3-point range. The Hawks committed four turnovers and were outrebounded 14-6. The Hawks could never fully recover although they made a fourth-quarter charge and got as close as six points.
In the end, the Hawks were outrebounded 59-40.
“I’m not going to point to one thing,” Millsap said. “We screwed up a lot of things. Rebounding we have to get better at. Offensively, we have to get better. There is a lot of time. … It always sucks when you lose. We have to take our losses as learning tools to try to get back to an elite level.”
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer wanted to use a 10-man rotation. Each player entered the game in the first quarter in a series of rapid substitutions. Tiago Splitter and Thabo Sefolosha were the first off the bench. Mike Scott entered the game in the fourth quarter as the 11th player when Mike Muscala suffered a right ankle injury driving to the basket. (He was called for a charge on the play). Muscala was diagnosed with a right ankle sprain and did not return. Schroder was particularly effective off the bench as he broke down the Pistons for several layups. The Hawks starters were a collective minus-76 with Jeff Teague a minus-23, Millsap a minus-22, Kent Bazemore a minus-17, Korver a minus-9 and Al Horford a minus-5.
The Hawks made a very surprising move in making Tim Hardaway Jr. inactive for the season opener. This is a player for whom the team traded its first-round pick in June’s NBA Draft. There he was in street clothes behind last year’s second-round pick Lamar Patterson, who played his first professional season in Turkey last year. Hardaway spent the past two seasons in the NBA. Budenholzer, when asked about the decision, said only that there will be difficult roster decisions each night. Hardaway Jr. is learning a completely new system with the Hawks after two seasons with the Knicks. He was 12 of 46 from the field in seven preseason games. Patterson entered the game, his NBA debut, with 5:10 left in first quarter as the sub for Kyle Korver at shooting guard. His first NBA points came on a corner 3-pointer in the final minute of the period. Patterson played fourth-quarter minutes in a late comeback attempt. The Hawks also made 7-foot-3 center Edy Tavares inactive in a game against a Pistons team that held a height advantage.
The Hawks called the game a sellout, announcing it in a press release at 2:21 p.m. One minute later a search of the Ticket Master website showed 17 sections at Philips Arena still had available seats, non-resale, available for purchase. The Hawks had a t-shirt giveaway, placing the apparel over each seat. Even by halftime, a noticeable number of the shirts remained unclaimed – in the lower bowl and upper deck. The Hawks announced a sellout crowd of 19,187.