This game had all the makings of a letdown for the Charlotte Hornets (28-33), but the team kept battling down the stretch to close out the Detroit Pistons (23-39) by a score of 108 to 101. This was really a tale of two halves, as the Pistons owned the first, scoring 62 points. More than a third of those points were scored by Reggie Jackson, who scored 21 points and added two assists. The Hornets really had no answer for Jackson in the pick-and-roll.
Then in the third quarter, coach Steve Clifford assigned Michael Kidd-Gilchrist the task of checking Jackson. He finished with just four second half points on 2-for-9 shooting. This was likely the difference in the game, as Detroit's offense went from unstoppable to pedestrian as soon as Kidd-Gilchrist stepped up to check Jackson for the first time. Clifford said he might have gone to this assignment earlier if MKG hadn't picked up two fouls early in the game. In addition to stifling on-ball defense, Kidd-Gilchrist had this highlight play as well:
MKG is dominating the game defensively tonight. https://t.co/LkZpd5YzQ7— Bryan Mears (@bryan_mears) March 9, 2015
It wasn't just the defense that kept the Hornets in the game, as Al Jefferson had a ridiculous third quarter. He went 5-for-5 from the floor for his 10 points, almost all of which on midrange jumpers. It was one of those weird games where Jefferson was just as proficient from outside as inside. Gerald Henderson, 9 assists, did a great job of finding Al Jefferson on the pick-and-pop.
While the Hornets looked to be taking control of the game in the third quarter, Andre Drummond made Bismack Biyombo look silly on three or four straight fastbreak plays. After a great second quarter, Biyombo's play was so discouraging that coach Clifford replaced him with Jason Maxiell. Even as an adamant #BringBackTheBiz proponent, this was the right move.
In the fourth quarter, it was Lance Stephenson (for the second straight game) and Mo Williams that took over for the Hornets to close out the game. Stephenson scored on multiple drives, hit a 3-pointer, and made some great passes. He ended the game with nine points, five assists, and two turnovers.
Despite some questionable inbound plays late in the fourth quarter, the Hornets held onto their lead and got a much needed road win, which makes it their fifth in a row. Up next, Charlotte faces the Washington Wizards at home on Monday night.