Atlanta center Pero Antic (6) shoots the ball against the Detroit Pistons in the fourth quarter Tuesday at Philips Arena. (USA Today Sports: Brett Davis)
ATLANTA — Playoff tickets went on sale this week in Atlanta, but the postseason is anything but a certainty for the Hawks.
Detroit guard Rodney Stuckey scored 29 points and center Andre Drummond dominated inside with 19 points and 17 rebounds, lifting the Detroit Pistons to a 102-95 win over the Hawks on Tuesday at Philips Arena.
Atlanta (34-43) now leads the idle New York Knicks by 1.5 games for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Detroit (29-49) was mathematically eliminated from the playoffs over the weekend.
The Hawks were coming off perhaps their most impressive performance in months, a blowout win at Indiana on Sunday, and needed Tuesday’s game. They didn’t play like it.
A makeup from a Jan. 29 game that was postponed by a winter storm, Tuesday’s game was sluggish and sloppy, featuring lackadaisical turnovers and defense from both sides.
Detroit got off to a hot start, controlled the backboards and led for the vast majority of the game. Stuckey hit four straight free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal the win and end the Pistons’ 10-game losing streak in Atlanta.
Atlanta took its first lead midway through the third quarter but quickly coughed it up and trailed 81-78 heading into the fourth quarter. The Hawks went 9 of 35 (25.7 percent) from the 3-point line and turned it over 16 times, 13 coming on Pistons steals.
Drummond, a rookie out of UConn, was a force on the inside. He even stepped to the foul line to make two straight free throws after Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer elected to intentionally foul him.
Detroit point guard Peyton Siva drained a 3-pointer that put the Pistons up by seven with 4:24 to play. Atlanta had multiple chances on the potential tying possession and couldn’t convert. The Hawks hit only one field goal in the final four minutes. Their only other points came at the foul line, and they weren’t enough.
Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 24 points.
Atlanta hosts the Boston Celtics on Wednesday. The Hawks also have games left against the Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat, Charlotte Bobcats and Milwaukee Bucks.
The Pistons finish out the season with three of four on the road, starting Wednesday at the Cleveland Cavaliers.
NOTES: Multiple media outlets reported Tuesday that Detroit president of basketball operations Joe Dumars is planning to resign, and the announcement reportedly could come this week. … Detroit F Josh Smith sat out Tuesday night with left knee tendinitis. Smith played the first eight seasons of his career with Atlanta. … Atlanta G Lou Williams missed Tuesday’s game with a hamstring injury. … The Pistons, the league’s leading offensive rebounding team, pulled down 10 offensive rebounds in the first half.