It should probably be noted early on that the Pistons entered tonight's contest ranked sixth in the NBA in defensive efficiency, making the Hornets' triple digits all the more impressive. They didn't get there just through Zeller and Marvin, though, but with strong all-around team play, and a quality gameplan that emphasized attacking the basket, resulting in 35 free throw attempts (24 made, which isn't a great percentage, but that's 24 free points regardless).
Three other Hornets finished in double figures, Kemba Walker (14 points), Nicolas Batum (13) and Jeremy Lin (13). Frank Kaminsky also played a great game off the bench, and Jeremy Lamb, despite having trouble getting his shot to fall consistently tonight, played one of his best defensive games all season, looking active at all points on the floor. Spencer Hawes knocked down a few shots, and P.J. Hairston had a couple nice moments here and there, so it was truly a team performance that carried Charlotte to the victory.
Tyler Hansbrough drove to the basket on multiple occasions in garbage time, too. It was terrifying. Bobcats Legend Anthony Tolliver rightly wanted no part of defending the Hansbroughstep (similar to a Eurostep, but instead of stepping around the defender, the ballhandler tries to step through him), and bailed out. It was awesome.
Steve Clifford's gameplan worked out for the Hornets in more ways than one: Pistons center and team-wide focal point Andre Drummond picked up his fifth foul with seven minutes left in the third quarter, and he would play only 24 minutes, finishing with nine points and nine rebounds. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope tried to pick up the slack for Detroit, but Ersan Ilyasova had a very inefficient shooting night, and Reggie Jackson, to put it nicely, played like butt on offense.
Credit to the Hornets defense for minimizing the Pistons offensive threat, and for aggressively dealing with the one opposing player that provided huge matchup issues, and getting a clean, easy win in a game where they didn't have to fight very hard at the end.
A few quick thoughts:
-The Zeller/Kaminsky frontcourt is EVERYTHING.
-Jeremy Lamb is probably regressing on offensive (and it'll probably be a hard regression), but as long as he can provide value even when he's not shooting the ball, he'll help the second unit.
-Nic Batum had a bit of a stinker of a game (4-15 from the floor, 2-7 from three, 3 FTA), but his ball movement was so good yet again. Is now a good time to point out Noah Vonleh's 4.8 PER?
-Cody Zeller's shooting line (5-9 floor, 10-13 free throws) is about as efficient a 20 points you'll see in the NBA without even attempting a three-pointer.