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Game Preview: Hornets at Pistons

In the first game since the Hornets were eliminated from playoff contention, they go into Detroit to face a team who similarly failed to live up to expectations this season.

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Between the start of the last game (a loss to the Atlanta Hawks) and the start of today's game against the Detroit Pistons, the Charlotte Hornets were officially eliminated from playoff contention, ending interest in this team by just about everyone who has followed them to this point. I'll try my hardest not to be overly optimistic, but I don't expect there to be a lot of interest in this game. Any upward movement in the standings is now effectively meaningless (as they cannot reach the playoffs), and any downward movement in standings being futile, as there is too much room for the Hornets to move up in the draft lottery (Ed Note: UNTIL THEY WIN THE DRAFT LOTTERY!-Chris), thanks to the Detroit Pistons (oddly enough) being much, much worse than we thought.

In other words, this game has almost zero ramifications for either team, which should actually be really interesting, as I'm sure both will try to trot out a lot of marginal or young players in order to give them an early start on preseason tryouts. (Jason Maxiell might play 40 minutes). Unfortunately, you won't see Al Jefferson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller, or Lance Stephenson, because all of them are hurt. For the Pistons, there will be no Brandon Jennings, and you probably won't see Spencer Dinwiddie either.

The stakes are low. The players are disinterested. The game is effectively meaningless. Here's a few things to look out for this afternoon:

  • Noah Vonleh is gonna get a lot of playing time. After being way too raw to see any meaningful minutes early in the season, Vonleh has added strength, improved his basketball IQ, and made some huge strides already, and he's played 20 minutes each of the last two games. He'll most likely be out on the court in extended minutes.
  • Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe will both be playing for Detroit, and Bismack Biyombo can only guard one of them at a time (unless Monroe tails Drummond like he's an annoying younger brother). It'll be really interesting to see how the rest of the frontcourt can handle their defensive assignment. SPOILER: It would be a lot easier for Charlotte if Zeller was healthy.
  • For whatever reason, the Hornets have to travel back home to play the Houston Rockets tomorrow night, so there's gonna be quite a bit of fatigue in that second game. It won't affect today's game at all, I just wanted to make sure you were aware of just how many points the Hornets are going to lose by tomorrow.
  • Troy Daniels has attempted 25 field goals as a member of the Charlotte Hornets, and he hasn't made one from between 3 to 16 feet away from the basket. 'Attaway to maximize that shot chart, Troy. You play that Moreyball as best you can.
  • TRIVIA QUESTION: Nine players currently on the Hornets have attempted 10 or more shots from three. Since Lance Stephenson is very obviously the worst in this category, which of those nine ranks second-worst in three-point shooting percentage? Answer will be at the bottom.
  • Both of these teams are among the NBA's best in taking care of the ball, with the Hornets having the fewest giveaways of all teams in the league, and the Pistons 6th in that same category. Unfortunately, that means this game will not be entertainingly terrible, and will just be disappointingly unwatchable.
  • You might see Cartier Martin play for the Pistons tonight. He has a PER of 1.0. And you all thought Gary Neal was having a bad season.
  • Andre Drummond has an offensive rebounding percentage of 18.2%. Jason Maxiell's defensive rebounding percentage is 14.1%. Andre Drummond is friggin' ridiculous.

(TRIVIA ANSWER: Jeff Taylor)