Pistons vs. Hawks Game Preview - February 21, 2014
Regular Season Game #55While health issues at the center position continue to plague the Atlanta Hawks, an injury to their point guard could make avoiding the club's longest losing streak in seven seasons more difficult.
It's uncertain if Jeff Teague will be available Friday night when the Hawks look to snap their seven-game skid while trying to continue their recent success against the struggling Detroit Pistons.
Averaging a career-high 15.5 points and among the NBA leaders with 7.1 assists per contest, Teague sprained his ankle late in the fourth quarter of Wednesday's 114-97 loss to Washington.
Atlanta (25-28), which has slipped to seventh in the Eastern Conference, already lost star center Al Horford to a season-ending pectoral muscle injury. Backup Pero Antic is out indefinitely with an ankle injury and a shoulder problem could force 6-foot-10 Gustavo Ayon to miss a second straight contest after starting the previous 11.
"It seems like we're dealing with a myriad of injuries, but we definitely have enough players to win," said veteran Elton Brand, a reserve most of the season who scored a season-high 20 and had 11 rebounds while starting at center Wednesday.
"We need to find a way to win and get this monkey off our back and stay in the race."
In an effort to shore up its thin front-line, Atlanta traded for Antawn Jamison from the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday for the rights to shooting guard Cenk Akyol, but it's uncertain what kind of impact the 37-year-old forward will have with the Hawks.
Jamison, who averaged 11.4 minutes, 3.8 points and 2.5 rebounds in 22 games for Los Angeles, did not play in 16 of the last 17 games with the Clippers. Atlanta general manager Danny Ferry said he'll talk with Jamison within the next few days to determine his interest in playing with the Hawks.
In danger of losing eight straight for the first time since 2006-07, the Hawks are also looking to avoid matching a season high with their fifth consecutive road defeat.
Atlanta has topped 90 points in back-to-back games after doing so once in the previous five, but has yielded an average of 106.5 points on 47.8 percent shooting over the last four. The Hawks trailed by 20 in the first half against the Wizards, who shot 51.7 percent, including 13 of 24 from 3-point range.
Detroit (22-32), which is ninth in the East and 3 1/2 games behind the Hawks, has dropped three straight overall, plus three in a row and 15 of 20 to Atlanta.
The Pistons have averaged 94.3 points and shot 40.6 percent during their current slide following three straight victories in which they averaged 115.3 on 50.0 percent shooting.
Frustration might have settled in Wednesday when guard Brandon Jennings was ejected for picking up his second technical foul while arguing a call late in a 116-98 loss at Charlotte.
"We definitely have to do a better job as a team of keeping our composure, especially in tough games like this," teammate Greg Monroe said. "Keeping a level head and playing hard as a team is something we're going to have to do."
Jennings totaled 44 points during this week's home-and-home with Charlotte, and has averaged 23.1 in 13 games. He scored 21 during a 93-85 loss at Atlanta on Nov. 20, then had 14 assists but only eight points on 4-of-16 shooting in a 96-89 home defeat to the Hawks two nights later.
Josh Smith, who spent his first nine seasons in Atlanta before signing a $54 million, four-year deal with Detroit in July, had 11 points in this season's first meeting with the Hawks, but was held scoreless in 19 minutes in the next matchup.
Teague scored 18 points in each of the first two meetings and totaled 16 assists.