Despite shooting just 34.1 percent from the field, the Charlotte Hornets pulled out a win at home against the Detroit Pistons, 87-77. Kemba Walker led Charlotte with 25 points, while Marvin Williams finished with 12 points and five rebounds in his first game back since missing six in a row. Andre Drummond led all scorers with 26 points, to go along with 20 rebounds.
The first quarter set the tone for the night. The Hornets got out to an early 7-4 lead, thanks in part to poor defense from Detroit. The Pistons would tie it soon after, and briefly hold a four point lead. An 8-0 run from Charlotte put them back up by four, but Detroit ended the 1st quarter up 24-23, which was kind of a miracle considering the Hornets shot just 30 percent from the field.
Poor shooting plagued Charlotte into the second quarter as well. The missed 12 of 13 shots between the end of the first and start of the second quarter, but still managed to take a small lead. A few shots would begin to fall, but their shooting percentage continued to drop, and they’d end the half shooting just 26 percent. Thanks to slightly better, but still poor shooting from Detroit, along with seven turnovers, Charlotte again only trailed by one entering halftime.
Charlotte’s shooting woes did not improve in the third quarter. Field goals were tough to come by for either team, and the game remained close. The occasional big play — an and-1 from Cody Zeller, a 3-pointer by Williams — would attempt to start a run for the Hornets, but those shots would be followed by blown layups at the rim or missed open shots from mid-range. The shot selection wasn’t necessarily bad, but no one looked in rhythm. This was excusable for Detroit, playing their fourth game in five nights, but Charlotte was the more rested team, and were at home, yet shot worse.
After three quarters of ugly basketball, the Hornets offense came to life (and by come to life, it went from dead to breathing occasionally) in the fourth. It started with Marco Belinelli knocking down three shots early in the quarter. Then, Walker joined in, making two 3-pointers in a row and a layup to score seven of his eventual 14 points in the fourth. Suddenly, Charlotte led by 10 mid-way through.
Detroit answered with a run of their own, cutting the lead to just two with around five minutes remaining. Belinelli answered with a 3-pointer to end the run, and Walker would score a layup to put them back up by seven. From there, Charlotte made enough defensive stops, and knocked down free throws to put the game out of reach.
Along with the hot finish by Walker and Belinelli, Charlotte benefited from the free throw line. Making 21-29 to Detroit’s, 5-8, free throws kept the Hornets in the game when the shots weren’t falling. This has become a trend lately. While it’s encouraging to see them get to the line more than the other team, and make the majority of their attempts, the poor shooting is becoming a bit of a concern.
That said, getting defensive stops down the stretch is even more important. We’ve seen two blown leads against bad teams this season, so it was encouraging that Charlotte got the needed stops late in the game. The return of Williams undoubtedly helped tonight, and should continue to moving forward.
The Hornets didn’t look great, but won and improved to 13-9 to remain fourth in the Eastern Conference. They’ll host Orlando on Friday, which is important both for division purposes, and because it is the last home game for them before starting a five game road trip.