Despite a sluggish fourth quarter, the Detroit Pistons rolled to their fourth consecutive win by holding off the Atlanta Hawks, 85-84, at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Friday.
After taking an 83-66 lead four minutes into the fourth, the Pistons scored just two more points the rest of the way on what turned out to be the deciding basket on a layup from Rodney Stuckey, who returned to the lineup after a three-game absence from an ankle injury.
With just seconds remaining, Al Horford passed to an open Lou Williams in the corner, but Andre Drummond leaped in to get just enough of the ball to deflect it away from its trajectory, allowing Detroit to hold on for the win.
In avenging last week's double OT loss to the Hawks, Greg Monroe tallied 18 points and nine boards for Detroit, which saw Austin Daye knock down 9-of-11 shots in under 23 minutes of play en route to a season-high 20 points.
"You got to be really proud of Austin, for him to step up the way he did," said Pistons coach Lawrence Frank. "It was more or less in the flow of what he did, plus he was able to use his length to contest some shots. He keeps growing and building, its great to see."
Jason Maxiell posted a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double and finished with three blocks, with two of them coming down the stretch.
Horford boasted 18 points to go with 15 boards and Williams netted 17 points with eight assists for the Hawks, who had won five of six coming in.
"We came up a little short tonight," said Hawks coach Larry Drew. "Coming into this game, the one thing we said we wanted to try and do was to eliminate momentum plays, match their physicality. For three quarters, we did not do that."
Josh Smith led Atlanta with 20 points, but was not on the floor in the final period during the comeback for the Hawks, who trailed by double-digits the entire third quarter and by as many as 17 in the fourth before making their run.
Detroit carried a 74-62 lead into the final stanza and extended its advantage to 17 on a Will Bynum layup with seven minutes to go, but Atlanta roared back to come within one less than four minutes later.
During the surge, the Hawks went 7-for-8 from the field, including a pair of 3-pointers from Kyle Korver, before Williams capped the 16-0 tear with a triple to make it 83-82 with 3:13 remaining.
After missing seven consecutive shots, the Pistons finally got back on the board following a Stuckey layup to give Detroit a full possession lead at 85-82 with 2:15 to go.
Following a Tayshaun Prince missed runner in the lane late in the contest, Horford buried what was originally called a 3-pointer, but the officials ruled that he was on the line and Atlanta stayed behind by one at 85-84 with 5.6 seconds to go.
Atlanta got another possession once Prince's inbound pass was intercepted by Jeff Teague, but the Pistons held on after Drummond caused Williams' open look from the corner to hit the side of the backboard.
Stuckey scored 10 points in his return and made his first appearance off the bench with 4:15 to go in first quarter. Soon after, he was fouled during a fastbreak layup, and while he couldn't finish the three-point play, Monroe scored following his missed free throw attempt to put the Pistons ahead 21-18.
On the ensuing possession, Smith finished his 12-point first quarter with a hook shot, but Atlanta trailed 25-20 heading into the second quarter.
Detroit raced out to a 34-20 edge early and completely dominated the quarter, thanks in large part to Daye, who hit 7-of-8 shots in the period.
In scoring 16 points, he buried two from long distance and knocked down the Pistons' final two baskets of the quarter to give them a 51-36 lead heading into halftime.
The Hawks began to show some life as Williams hit the back two of a trio of 3- pointers to cut Atlanta's deficit to 11 at 66-55, but the Pistons ended the rally and carried a 74-62 edge into the fourth.
Detroit won for just the second time in its last eight games with the Hawks ... The Pistons improved to 4-0 on their five-game homestand, which they will wrap up on Sunday against the Charlotte Bobcats.