PAUL NEWBERRY,AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — Tracy McGrady led six players in double figures and the playoff-bound Atlanta Hawks built a 37-point lead in the first half on the way to a 116-84 rout of the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.
With their highest-scoring half of the season, the Hawks were up 72-42 at the break in the first of five straight home games to close the regular season. Atlanta is battling with Boston and Orlando to be the final Eastern Conference team with home-court advantage.
The Hawks sure played like it mattered in this one, getting contributions from everyone in what was essentially a mirror image of the 116-77 beatdown that the Pistons handed Cleveland the previous night. Detroit had nothing left for the Hawks, who got a season-high 72 points from their bench.
McGrady scored a season-high 17 points, flipping a wristband into the crowd as he walked off the court to a big cheer in the fourth quarter. Ivan Johnson added 16 points, Joe Johnson had 13, Josh Smith chipped in 12, while Marvin Williams and Willie Green scored 10 apiece. Jannero Pargo had nine points and eight assists, many leading to numerous dunks and easy baskets.
The Hawks led by as many as 41 points but couldn’t quite hold on for its biggest win of the season, which remained a 36-point blowout at New Jersey in late December.
But this is just what Atlanta needed late in the season, an easy game that essentially gave the starters a night off with a grueling season winding down and the most important games still to come. Joe Johnson played more than any of the starters, less than 23 minutes, and Jeff Teague was the only other one to go as many as 20 minutes.
Detroit, which shot a dismal 35 percent (32 of 92), was led by Greg Monroe’s 17 points.
The Hawks led 39-20 at the end of the first quarter and really turned it on in the second, even with the entire starting lineup watching it all from the bench. Williams scored eight points, McGrady had six, Pargo and Green five apiece, and Ivan Johnson four. Jerry Stackhouse and Vladimir Radmononiv also knocked down shots, meaning every available Atlanta player was on the score sheet by halftime.
Once things got out of hand, it was nothing more than a dunkfest for Atlanta. Pargo set up many of those easy baskets, including three slams in the second quarter. At one point, he dribbled from one side of the court to the other, luring most of the Pistons defense, before he flipped a pass to Green, who whipped it over to Williams all alone under the basket.
The Hawks didn’t even mind when McGrady reached up to pick up off a jumper that was clearly on its way down. The starters got a good chuckle from that one as they watched from the bench.
Atlanta shot a season-high 62 percent from the field in the first half.
NOTES: The Pistons rested F Tayshaun Prince while in the midst of three games in three nights. Austin Daye started in his place but scored just four points on 1-of-11 shooting. … The Hawks played without C Erick Dampier, who was sidelined by a strained left calf. … The Hawks are still listing C Zaza Pachulia (sprained foot), but coach Larry Drew revealed a bit of concern when asked if the rugged player would be back for the playoffs. “I hope so,” Drew said.
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