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Bibby pushes Hawks past Pistons

POSTED: December 30, 2008 5:00 a.m.
GREGORY SMITH /The Associated Press

Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith (5) drives to the basket as Detroit Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey, right, and Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince (22) defend Sunday at Philips Arena in Atlanta. The Hawks won 85-78.

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ATLANTA — Mike Bibby offered a shrug of indifference when asked about the Detroit Pistons’ recent domination of his Atlanta Hawks.

Why should Bibby care about ancient history? Bibby wasn’t with the Hawks for any of those past losses to the Pistons, and the new point guard in the Atlanta lineup made an obvious difference, scoring a season-high 27 points in an 85-78 win against Detroit on Sunday.

"We’re not worried about that," Bibby said. "We’re trying to turn over a new leaf."

Detroit had won 12 of its last 16 games in Atlanta before Sunday and swept last season’s series.

Bibby made 10 of 13 shots from the field, including each of his six 3-point shots.

The Pistons’ four wins over Atlanta last season came before the Hawks acquired Bibby from Sacramento on Feb. 16.

The Hawks (17-10) have won five of their last six and are a season-best seven games over .500. Bibby is averaging 16 points while making 43.3 percent of his 3-pointers.

"That says a lot about what we have added to our team," Joe Johnson said. "I think we have improved. I definitely expect to see positive things the rest of the season."

Atlanta’s only loss in its last six games was an 88-85 home loss to Boston on Wednesday.

"We expect this team to beat good teams," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "If you can hold the Celtics to (a three-point win), you should be able to beat anybody."

Johnson had 19 points and seven assists. Al Horford added 11 points and 11 rebounds and Josh Smith also had 11 points for Atlanta.

"I thought we defended Joe really well," Pistons coach Michael Curry said. "I thought we defended Josh well. They shot 42 percent. The only thing we didn’t do well is, we didn’t defend Mike Bibby."

Curry said Allen Iverson lost Bibby on four of the 3s.

"It was just mental lapses," Curry said. "You can’t ball-watch and Allen struggles ball-watching sometimes. Bibby made him pay."

Rodney Stuckey and Wallace each had 20 points for Detroit.

Richard Hamilton had 16 points for Detroit before he was ejected with 1:14 remaining and Atlanta leading 83-76. Hamilton drew the technical from official Rodney Mott after taking a hit to his head and falling to one knee under the Hawks’ basket.

Bibby said he knew his right elbow hit something, but he said he didn’t know it was Hamilton’s head. No foul was called.

Hamilton said he was ejected after protesting the call with a profanity.

"I don’t deserve to get kicked out of the game for that," Hamilton said. "There’s a lot worse stuff being said out on the floor. I was in the wrong for saying what I said, but not by any means do you get kicked out of the game for that."

Hamilton was tossed after only one technical foul, which Curry said was a favor to his team.

"(Mott) was being nice; if he’d given him two they’d have shot two (free throws)," Curry said. "Whether a guy missed a foul or not, Rip can’t lose it and get a technical in that situation. That’s unfortunate how that happened right at the end."

The Pistons fell to 0-6 on Sunday. They are 11-4 on other days.

Detroit trailed by 18 points early in the second half before launching a steady comeback in the matchup of second-place teams.

The Pistons cut the lead to 80-76 on a basket by Rasheed Wallace with 2:30 remaining, but Bibby answered with a jumper.

Bibby opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer, his first of five in the period, and Atlanta led 52-41 at halftime. Bibby had two 3s in a 13-0 run early in the quarter.

The Hawks stretched the lead to 59-41 by scoring the first seven points of the third quarter, but Detroit closed the period with a 9-1 run to cut the lead to 69-63.Notes: Iverson had 10 points on 4-for-11 shooting while guarded by Johnson most of the game. ... Bibby was 5-for-5 on 3-point attempts and scored 15 points in the second quarter. ... The Hawks improved to 11-2 in home games. ... Marvin Williams had nine points and 10 rebounds for the Hawks. ... The teams’ reserves combined for only 18 points, including six by Detroit’s Antonio McDyess.



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