Exhaustion made sure to make an appearance tonight, as the Charlotte Hornets didn't have the energy to hang with the Detroit Pistons in a 112-89 loss. Ultimately, a fourth game in five days proved to be fatal. The team was slow out of the gate, and unable to have its usual third quarter surge.
Kemba Walker, also known as Kardiac Kemba, gave it his all in tonight's loss, scoring 23 points and hitting four 3-pointers. He was the reason the team stayed competitive in the first quarter after scoring a string of seven points to bring the team back in it after trailing by 11 early. Unfortunately, by the third quarter, even he was gassed.
Outside of Walker, only Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored in double figures as the other three starters shot a combined 8/28 from the floor. Frank Kaminsky, who started his third straight game, may have had one of his more frustrating outings as a pro. Kaminsky shot 1/11 on mostly open looks from the floor. For the most part, the second year man did everything right, the shots just didn't falling. Nic Batum was quiet offensively, too, but managed to grab 11 rebounds to go along with his eight points.
While the Hornets appeared exhausted, the Pistons were quite the opposite. It showed that the Detroit ball club hadn't played since Saturday, and made matters worse by making nearly everything they took. On the night, the Pistons shot just under 49 percent, whereas the Hornets shot below 39.7 percent. The 12 3-pointers were a dagger as well for a team that hadn't shot the long ball particularly well this season.
To add insult to injury, it should probably be noted that the Pistons were without their NBA All-Star center, Andre Drummond, for over half the game. Drummond was ejected in the second quarter on a flagrant 2 foul due to his elbow hitting Hornets' Roy Hibbert in the back of the head on a Walker 3-pointer. Take a look at the sequence: Walker hits Ish Smith with bump and step-back three, as Hibbert takes the elbow to the head towards the end of the play.
Whether or not the call was warranted, it should have put the already-derailed Hornets in the driver's seat.
Thanks to the efforts of Tobias Harris and Marcus Morris, the Pistons ran away from the Hornets in the second half after only having a three point lead at the break. Harris scored 24 points and added seven rebounds, while Morris scored 18 and grabbed four boards. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also had a nice showing, matching Morris in points with 18 partly due to his four 3-pointers.
The Hornets bench-unit actually outscored the Pistons' 38-36, but didn't provide enough to make a significant difference. After two stellar games, Jeremy Lamb struggled in his third back from injury with a four point, 1/5 shooting performance. Lamb would eventually leave the game with 11:14 left in the fourth quarter due to a knee contusion and didn't return.
As for the flow of the game, it was a physical 48 minutes with less fouls being called than usual. It certainly appeared to be fair and consistent on both sides but played into the hands of the Pistons, who enjoy a physical brand of play, especially on an already-fatigued Hornets squad. After shooting 31 free throws last night against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Hornets only took 21 tonight. Additionally, in uncharacteristic fashion, the Hornets failed to move the ball as well as they have all season. A lot of settled looks didn't help the team during a stretch in the third quarter where the Pistons took command of the game.
What made the four games in five days tougher than usual was that the two back-to-backs were away-home affairs, meaning the team had to travel after each game. In the four games, the Hornet split 2-2 and find themselves with a 10-8 overall record.
The team gets a day off tomorrow before playing the Mavericks at home on Thursday.
Listen to Doug Branson and David Walker discuss last night's game below.