by Lang Whitaker

With it still snowing and cold here in New York, there was no way I was going out today, Sunday afternoon. So once Wifey fell asleep for a nap, I tuned in to the Hawks/Pistons afternoon game, which was shown in HD, for reasons understood by nobody. League Pass is a mysterious thing, and we must not question its greatness.

Anyway, because I had nothing better to do, I took notes while I watched the game…

• Beyonce, I appreciate all you do, but I have no interest in letting you upgrade me. Thanks, holla, etc.

• AI is shown entering Philips Arena wearing a pair of Monster’s Beats by Dre headphones (as reviewed by Josh Childress in SLAM 125!).

• Don’t the Pistons play every Sunday afternoon? And lose? Feels like it. I look it up and they’re 0-5 on Sundays this season. Which means either they have trouble getting it going on Sundays or that they’re going out on Saturday nights no matter what.

• For some reason, this game’s on a special League Pass HD channel that I’ve never noticed before. I’m looking at the Hawks in HD as nothing short of a Christmas miracle.

• Hawks color commentator Dominique Wilkins either didn’t shave this morning or he’s growing a goatee. Or maybe he just has an HD Goatee.

• It’s amazing to me how some basketball players can play with a mouthpiece in. I tried wearing a mouthpiece in a game for about 4 minutes when I realized that the mouthpiece was blocking the air from going in and out of my mouth. Iverson seems to have found a way around that, though, as we see a shot of him shooting a jumper in a game while the mouthpiece dangles from his mouth. That’s a safety hazard kids. But AI is dangerous!

• You know players rent out sections of seats and donate the seats to a local charity? Well, Al Horford has a section of seats he bought in Philips Arena with a huge sign hanging in front that reads “AL’S AMIGOS.” Well, one of my best friends in Atlanta is named Al, and every time I go to a Hawks game with him he starts eyeing that “AL’S AMIGOS” sign a couple of minutes into the game. And I’ll admit, it would look great in Al’s living room. So if that sign ever goes missing, I’ve got a good lead on it.

• The Pistons start with Stuckey, AI, Rip, Tayshaun and Rasheed. What happened to the 7 starters? Using 7 starters is my favorite new coaching tactic this season.

• Tayshaun Prince always looks he had some bad chicken about an hour ago.

• I don’t know what they were showing pregame on the scoreboard, but 3/4 of the Hawks pregame huddle is riveted to the screen.

• Ha ha! Steve Javie is reffing this afternoon! And Sheed’s already got 10 technical fouls this season.

• Marv’s Mohawk is basically just an HD Mohawk. And yes, this is a new term, the HD Whatever. It applies to things that probably aren’t visible on regular TV but are in HD.

• Two quick baskets and a defensive stop right out of the box for Detroit. Then a defensive breakdown from Iverson. AI gets lost trying to follow Bibby around a series of picks. Bibby pops open near the left baseline, and you can hear Iverson yell “Rasheed!” as he urges Sheed to help cover Bibby. Sheed’s too late.

• Al Horford has become solid on his jumper from about 16 feet. If he can get that shot solid out to about 18 feet he’ll be an All-Star every year.

• Detroit is 5-for-5 our of the box. A Sheed 3 gives them a quick 11-7 lead.

• AI scores to make Detroit 7-for-7, and the Pistons lead 15-9 early on. The’re not missing anything. Iverson has 6 quick points. Dominique sums up Detroit’s start be saying, “Wow.” If Detroit keeps this up I’m officially endorsing Curry’s 7 starters theory.

• Josh Smith fouls Rip with 7:26 left in the first, and it’s the first time we’ve mentioned Josh all night.

• Rip Hamilton has a an HD Funny Shaped Head.

• The Hawks run a play for J-Smoove and he goes to the basket and hits a lefty hook shot over Prince. J-Smoove needs to keep driving to the rim like that, but he too often settles for those long jumpers.

• At the same time, as a Hawks fan there’s nothing more terrifying to me then seeing Josh Smith dribbling the ball down the floor in the open court.

• Bibby makes a layup, and one. That’s the first layup I can remember from Bibby in weeks. He’s shooting well, but Bibby stays on that perimeter like it owes him money.

• The Hawks playing tough defense early on. Detroit’s up 21-16, but that’s more from making tough shots than anything else. The Hawks are contesting most everything.

• And then Rip gets iso’ed on Bibby and blows right by him.

• Joe Johnson for 2. Now Detroit leads 21-18. And the shooting is starting to even out (Det is 9 of 13, the Hawks are 8 of 13).

• JJ scores on a lay-in to make it 21-20 and Curry takes a timeout. He tries to sub in Antonio McDyess and Amir Johnson without taking anyone out, but the refs refuse to bend the rules.

• They show an ad for the Hawks/Thunder game that’s all shots of Durant in the OKC uniforms. Why not show him getting that 3 to beat Atlanta two years ago in the Sonics uniforms?

• BTW, congrats to the Thunder for picking up win number 3 this season. Sure it was only Toronto that they beat, but still. And if they keep winning at this pace, in about a month we’re going to start talking about this Thunder being one of the all-time worst teams in the history of the NBA.

• Amir Johnson checks in and immediately commits a foul. He looks terrified on the court. And with that HD beard he’s wearing, he looks like an 18 year old trying to look 21 just long enough to get into the club.

• I love Will Bynum, who plays with such hustle and athleticism, but Detroit really needs another back-up guard.

• Joe nails a 2 over Rip and the Hawks go up 22-21.

• As the first quarter ends, Atlanta gets the ball in transition and tries to run a quick play. The Hawks throw it outside and swing the ball along the perimeter, searching for the open man. When they get to where Josh Smith should be, at the top of the key, he hasn’t run down the court yet, so Joe Johnson ends up forcing a covered shot. I know Josh said he’s slow getting his wind back, but Woody doesn’t need to wear him out.

• And immediately, Marvin goes to the press table to check in for Josh.

• Detroit gets flurry of points to end the 1st — a lay-in by Johnson and runner from Rip makes it 25-22, Detroit leads, after 1.

• Hawks go small to start the second. A chaotic possession ends with Bibby nailing a 3 to tie it up.

• I can’t remember if I’ve said this before here, but Mike Bibby looks a lot like a photo-negative of Spencer from “The Hills.”

• Hley, Aaron Afflalo just sclored a blucket.

• The Pistons are shooting nothing but outside jumpers tonight — they can’t get anything going toward the rim, so they’re settling a lot.

• Bibby jacks a 3 in transition and hits it.

• Stuckey comes back in and we get our first Zaza appearance of the day. With 9 left in the third, the Hawks go up 3 on a layup from Marv.

• Bibby nails another 3 — he’s red hot right now. Luckily Detroit is letting him shoot wide-open threes. The Pistons take a 20 with the Hawks up 6. Bibby has 14.

• Then Bibby loses Stuckey and Stuckey gets an open drive to the rim. Stuckey gets fouled and goes to the line. With Mike Bibby this season, the question is often is his offensive value outweighing his defensive lapses? And the answer today is yes.

• The Hawks run a play for Bibby, who misses a 2.

• Zaza pops a long 2. 12-0 run for the Hawks. The Pistons are playing defense like the Warriors tonight.

• Amir Johnson is constantly tucking his jersey. I wish someone in Detroit would tell him he’s not good enough to play with his jersey untucked yet.

• McDyess checks in and immediately fouls Zaza. The Hawks are up 38-29 now with 7:11 left in the half. The Pistons seem to be thinking about things they saw late last night at the Blue Flame.

• Marvin drives and takes a hard foul from McDyess. BTW, Marv’s having a solid season this year. Just look at his game logs here. He rebounds, defends, runs the floor. But the one thing that is always working against him? He’s not Chris Paul.

• Bibby drains another 3, makes it 45-35.

• Rodney Stuckey has had enough. He drives in for a layup while the other Pistons stand and watch in amazement at one of their teammates being aggressive.

• Rip flows that with an airball. Bibby gets another 3, which makes 5 threes in the second. The Hawks are now up 51-39 with 1:29 left in the half.

• Horford tries to dunk on Sheed, and Sheed blocks it. A foul is called on Sheed, who howls at ref Rodney Mott.

• While Horford’s at the line, Sheed is yelling at the Hawks bench and everyone on the Hawks bench appears to be cracking up. Why can’t the mics get this?

• Prince scores his first field goal of the game with 50 seconds left in the half. Still, the Hawks are up 52-41 at the half.

• The Hawks announce team suggests that a Hawks win here could signify a “changing of the guard” in the Eastern conference. Sorry, but I’m not buying that, not yet, anyway. Besides, isn’t Boston on guard in the East?

• Bibby warms up for the second half with Bow Wow and Jermaine Dupri sitting behind him. Who says nobody comes to the games in Atlanta? We got fans, it’s just mostly short hip-hop stars!

• Rathbun points out that the Hawks are 0-5 on Sundays. Nique says, “A lot of times, those statistics hold true!” Yes, yes they do.

• Joe gets an open 2 in rhythm to start the second half. He hasn’t looked completely comfortable since that Boston game, and I don’t know if something’s up.

• Joe then nails a 3 over a double team. Guess he’s fine. Never mind.

• I’m thinking that someone from Detroit has to step up and play with some urgency, and right then Prince drives and gets swatted by Smoove. Then Smoove hits 2 free throws to put Atlanta up 18, 59-41.

• Detroit brings the ball down and gets a switch, so Horford ends up guarding AI. Sheed gets the ball in the post against Smoove, looks around the court, then takes Josh and hits a fadeaway jumper. They scored two points, but how many times over the course of his career has Iverson had such a mismatch and his teammates haven’t gotten the ball to him?

• Rip hits a jumper to make it 6 straight for Detroit. Atlanta leads 59-47. After a Hawks timeout and couple of misses from each team, Stuckey drives and gets an and one, making it 59-50, Atlanta, with 4:51 to go in the third.

• Atlanta needs a bucket bad, so who do they turn to? Mo Evans! He comes off the bench for a jumper.

• Then Bibby hits another 3. That’s his sixth of the game, and Atlanta leads 64-52.

• AI finally scores, and running back down the floor he looks…bored. Actually, a lot of the Pistons look bored today. Hawks players are driving to the rim, getting open jumpers…Detroit just doesn’t have any spunk today.

• Atlanta gets four straight, then Rodney Stuckey gets a lay-up and a three to make it 68-59.

• Stuckey snatches a steal and gets 2 to make it 69-63 after 3. Detroit refuses to make a full-on run for this game, but the Hawks refuse to put Detroit away, also.

• In my case, you can safely call the movie “Marley and Not Me.”

• Three missed shots begin the fourth, and then Iverson gets stuck defending Horford on a play. Joe Johnson has the ball up top, and Iverson tries to run over and switch with Sheed, who’s guarding Flip Murray. Only problem is that Sheed doesn’t know he’s supposed to switch, so Horford is left standing all alone under the rim. JJ hits him with a pass and Horford dunks. That was just terrible defense by Detroit. Larry Brown is rolling over in his grave.

• A Sheed 3 cuts it to 71-66 with 9:38 left.

• The Hawks are staying small, using their starters (but Bibby’s still on the bench, which is basically a concession to Bibby’s defense).

• Joe Johnson decides he wants to take over. Cool. JJ misses a basket, then turns the ball over, then finally drives and scores to make it 74-68.

• Sheed misses another 3 as the Pistons are trying to get back into it. Maybe it’s just me, but if I was Mike Curry, I’m not sure I’d want Sheed lining up for a three pointer on practically every possession.

• Joe Johnson is unbelievably good at using his body to shield his dribble. I can’t remember seeing any player able to take Joe’s dribble away from him without doubling him. For a Hawks fan, this is a good thing. At the same time, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Joe dribble the clock down and take a jumper at the shot clock buzzer. So yes, he’s an amazing dribbler. But maybe he’s a little too good.

• With 7:22 left in the game, Bibby checks back in.

• The Hawks finally end the Joe Johnson mini-suite and run a play for Josh Smith. Smoove goes to the rim and dumps it off to Horford for an easy basket.

• The teams go back-and-forth a little, and the Hawks stay on top, 78-72. Then, with 4:34 remaining on the clock, Michael Curry sends Rodney Stuckey into the game and yanks Allen Iverson. AI goes to the bench and sits down looking furious, as an angry-looking Kwame Brown, who hasn’t played all day, talks into his ear.

• Nobody wants to win this game. Both teams go back and forth and can’t score to save their lives. Finally, Sheed hits a 2 with 3 minutes left to make it 78-74, Atlanta. Sheed pumps his fist on the way back down the floor.

• Joe comes off a screen and nails a runner to make it 80-74. We see Iverson on the bench, still fuming.

• Detroit goes to Sheed on the left block. He fakes a turnaround over his left shoulder once, twice, three times, then actually takes a turnaround over his left shoulder (and Al Horford) and nails it. Al defended it perfectly, but that shot is unstoppable. I’d make Sheed take that shot 40 times a game. Detroit has a Need 4 Sheed in the post! Sheed brings Detroit to within 4, 80-76, with 2:13 to go.

• Bibby, who’s been quiet in the fourth, comes in and drills a long two over a double team. That’s 27 for Bibby and Atlanta’s up 6 again.

• Detroit takes a timeout and the entire team gathers out on the floor around Michael Curry. Except Allen Iverson, who stays on the bench. Alone.

• Out of the timeout, Detroit gets Bibby on Rip so they give it to Rip, who tries to drive on Bibby then goes down in a pile and turns it over. The Hawks go 5-on-4 and Detroit fouls to stop play. Rip is still down at the other end.

• We see a replay of the Bibby/Hamilton collision but it doesn’t look like anything happened. “Maybe we saw a bad angle,” reasons Dominique. And he’s right! From a reverse angle we see Bibby’s arm hit Hamilton’s head. It wasn’t intentional, but it was a foul. Still, Rip reacted like he’d been slipped a mickey.

• OK, he’s up and he just got tossed from the game. Somehow he only got one technical but he got ejected. He has some “choice words” for the refs on his way out. Why do we still call that “choice words”? Can’t we just say he had some “profane words” or “words that most people would find offensive”?

• Iverson returns to replace Hamilton. He does not look excited by this development. Atlanta’s up 83-78 with 39.9 left in the game.

• There’s a clock problem and while the refs run around and try to figure out how to fix the clock, Rasheed starts yelling “Watch the pushoff!” at every ref who walks by. Maybe not the best time, Sheed?

• Detroit gets a stop, but Tayshaun Prince re-appears and misses a three to give Atlanta the win. The final score is 85-78. Your final box score is here.

Sheed and Stuckey each had 20 for Detroit, but AI had a piddling 10 points (even though he played almost 41 minutes). Worse, we may have seen a fracturing between AI and Mike Curry. Perhaps a loss like this will force Coach Curry to re-consider using 7 starters. Maybe 8 or 9 should start from now on? Michael Curry is not afraid to think outside of the box!

And for Atlanta, they didn’t play particularly well but they won this game rather easily. Mike Woodson didn’t go deep on the bench (Zaza barely played), but the Hawks rolled to 17-10, winners of 4 of their last 5, and they’re now 11-2 at home.

I don’t know if this was a statement game, but if it was, the statement by Atlanta was, We mess up less than you.