ATLANTA -- The Detroit Pistons suffered another loss Sunday, this time falling 85-78 at Atlanta. But this loss had nothing to do with the day of the week.
Instead, it was about one player: Hawks guard Mike Bibby.
Bibby, a 15.2 points per game scorer this season, equaled that total in the second quarter alone. He finished with a season-high 27 points and made all six of his 3-point attempts.
Pistons coach Michael Curry was disappointed with the loss but was content with his team's play for the most part.
"The only thing we didn't do well is, we didn't defend Mike Bibby," Curry said.
And while the Pistons used more than one player to guard Bibby, it was Allen Iverson's defensive struggles that stood out.
"Out of his six 3s, one came in transition, one came on a loose ball and the other four were just basic ball-watching, losing your man in coverage," Curry said. "Those are mental lapses. You can't ball-watch. Allen struggles ball-watching sometimes, and Bibby made him pay."
Iverson, who had 10 points on 4-for-11 shooting, agreed with Curry.
"I was looking at the ball," Iverson said. "And when they throw it out, he did a good job of moving around once they throw it back out. I just got lost on a couple of assignments."
Even with Bibby in the midst of his best scoring game of the season, the Pistons trimmed Atlanta's 18-point lead in the second half, down to four points (80-76) after a turn-around jumper from Rasheed Wallace with 2:29 to play.
The Pistons got no closer, though, as the frustration of another close loss gradually settled in.
Detroit missed two of its final three shots from the field, and Richard Hamilton was ejected with 1:14 to play after complaining about a non-call by official Rodney Mott.
Losing the way they did did not seem all that likely considering the Pistons got off to one of their best starts of the season.
Detroit shot 55 percent from the field in the first quarter, which included them making their first seven shots from the field.
Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Woodson was concerned, especially considering most of Detroit's baskets were from point-blank range.
"You can deal with guys making jumpshots that are contested, but we were giving up lay-ups early, so that's a concern," Woodson said. "We started to pick it up offensively, then our defense got better as we went along."
Bibby's big second quarter scoring was balanced by an Atlanta defense that limited Detroit to 33 percent shooting from the field.
The Hawks seemed on their way to a blowout victory, but Detroit's Rodney Stuckey had other plans.
After a pair of free throws by Atlanta's Josh Smith gave the Hawks a 59-41 lead in the third, Detroit outscored Atlanta, 22-10, the rest of the quarter. During the Pistons' run, Stuckey scored 12 of his team-high tying 20 points which included a steal and lay-up at the end of the quarter that cut Atlanta's lead down to 69-63.
But once again, the Pistons' strong play was too little, too late.
"We just couldn't get over the hump," said Wallace, who had 20 points.
Added Iverson: "They were just too much; they were better than us tonight."