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Richard Hamilton was back in the Pistons lineup after missing the last game with a death in the family.  He was no help as the Pistons lost to the 5th seeded Atlanta Hawks 104-96 in Atlanta.

Coach Kuester once again utilized the 10 man rotation that helped pull out the win Friday night over the Knicks in Detroit, this time they came up short in crunch time.  The game was tight until the final minutes as Jamal Crawford and Josh Smith nailed key free throws to close out the game for the playoff bound Hawks.

On a bright note, Rodney Stuckey finished with a game high 22 points and tied for a game high 8 assists off the bench for the Pistons.  Super rookie Rodney White Greg Monroe finished with another double-double (17 and 10) while matched up against the more athletic Josh Smith.

Austin Day blocks Josh Smith

Photo/Getty Images editing Need4Sheed.com

  • 3 Pistons played 30+ minutes, 7 others played 11-27 minutes.  Rodney Stuckey played 31 minutes off the bench
  • Detroit fought back from a 14 point deficit to get it to within 2 points after 1 minutes passed in the 4th quarter
  • Chris Wilcox showed out yet again with 18 efficient points off the bench for the Pistons
  • Detroit’s backcourt defense held perennial 6th man of the year candidate Jamal Crawford to 9 points in 30 minutes
  • All Star Center Al Horford finished with a double-double of his own – 18 and 10
  • Josh Smith flashed the athleticism and defense that Pistons fans have long wanted to see in the Pistons red, blue and white.  Smith has been a part of trade rumors started by Pistons fans, with Detroit being an ideal landing spot for the well paid Smith after the Hawks overpaid Joe Johnson this past off season.
  • Highlights via NBA.com

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  • With Rip Hamilton back in the fold, Will Bynum was the odd man out today.  Jason Maxiell also didn’t see time on the floor
  • My least favorite player of all time had a game best +11.  Kirk Hinrich, acquired by the Hawks at the trade deadline for Jordan Crawford and some scraps from the Wizards, scored 15 points to go with 6 assists and 4 rebounds
  • After a game like today, I don’t think you’ll catch Natalie or I calling in to the Call Sam Studios to talk to Maaaaaahteen.  Tough loss for the good guys
  • Former Team Boney favorite Damien Wilkins is playing scrap minutes for the Hawks
  • Detroit fell behind early, and played the Hawks about even the rest of the game until the end when Detroit was trying to stop the clock
  • In NCAA news – Michigan State choked their way out of the NCAA Tournament, Oakland U played Texas tough while Michigan made it through to the 2nd round and fell to Duke 73-71

Detroit played well enough down the stretch to claw their way back into the game, but it’s tough to fully overcome such a deficit like 14, especially against a playoff bound team on their home floor.  This Pistons starting lineup seems to work best, it’s just a shame that Monroe is really the only young player on the roster that is capable of starting at this point.  Austin Daye has been disappointing and inconsistent, Rodney Stuckey has been wildly inconsistent when given starters minutes, and DaJuan Summers has been invisible.

Detroit now heads home to face off against Rony Seikaly’s former team, the Miami Heat.  Detroit does not match up well with the Heat in the backcourt but, it’ll be interesting to see how a matured Greg Monroe holds his own against the Miami Heat starting power forward.