John Lucas III hasn't played in nearly three weeks.
But with Reggie Jackson under the weather and Spencer Dinwiddie out with a sprained ankle, the Pistons needed big minutes from Lucas. And he brought it.
The Pistons went into the fourth quarter leading 76-72, and opened up with a nice run led by Reggie Jackson to put them up by 11. But the Hawks being the Hawks responded with a run of their own to cut things to five.
Jackson went out after just a few minutes in the fourth, but Lucas was good with playing the role of closer. He had 11 fourth quarter points, finishing with 15 points and 3 assists for the game.
While JLIII will likely be the story of the game, Andre Drummond is the biggest reason the Pistons pulled off the win. Detroit got him involved early, and he did a very nice job with Al Horford covering him. He finished with 22 points on 8-11 shooting and 6-11 from the free throw stripe, plus a block and a couple steals.
While he still had his usual 6 offensive rebounds, with 13 overall, and benefited from a few tips, most of his scoring came from post opportunities. And he did a great job of establishing position deep and even showed off a few fancy post moves.
Even though he only played 22 minutes due to being sick, Reggie Jackson still managed a double-double with 12 points and 11 assists - though accumulating assists early was pretty easy for Jackson.
The Pistons came out on fire, starting the game making 10 of their first 11 shots. But both teams were scoring relatively easily and even though Detroit went up by as much as 11 points in the first, the Hawks were able to close the gap.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Anthony Tolliver were both key for the Pistons taking care of business offensively. Tolliver played a game-high 40 minutes, finishing with 13 points and 10 rebounds. It was one of those games living in the Tolliverse where everything had a chance of falling. One of his threes was called off because he stepped out of bounds - and it was a fallaway!
KCP scored a lot of points and took a lot of shots. But he was confident, played hard, and was pretty efficient.
The Hawks have been coasting to the finish line, which helped lead to the 5.5 point spread in favor of the team currently sitting 26.5 behind the other.
Spencer Dinwiddie came down hard on a foot in the second quarter to sprain his ankle, so we may be in for more Lucas in the near future. It's definitely unfortunate as Dinwiddie could use the seasoning to get ready for a backup role next season, but Lucas looked more than capable of keeping the team afloat in the meantime.
The Pistons head from Detroit to Charlotte tomorrow for a game that will make quite a difference in the 40-45 win percentage team battle for the coveted 8 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.