The Charlotte Hornets pulled out an incredible win against the Oklahoma City Thunder last night, and hope to use that momentum to gain their second straight win — this one against the middling Detroit Pistons.
The Hornets won last night because they played well on both ends of the floor in the fourth quarter, shooting 42.1 percent from the field and limiting the Thunder to 30.8 percent. That said, they expended a ton of energy in doing so.
The Pistons have underwhelmed this season, but if you look a bit deeper they’re better than their 16-21 record would imply. Yes, they’ve lost eight of their last 10 games, but those 10 games were against some of the NBA’s top teams, like the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers — the latter being a team they beat.
Early in the season Reggie Jackson, their starting point guard, missed 21 games.
Once they figure out how to play together in head coach Stan Van Gundy’s system, they should work out as a middle-of-the-pack team.
After all, their starting lineup had a 4.3 plus-minus rating last season in the 25 games it appeared in.
But then again, Van Gundy publicly lambasted Jackson in the media just yesterday. So maybe it doesn’t work out. We’ll see.
The Pistons are losing because their defense is allowing a league-worst 50.6 percent shooting over their last 10 games, and they’re also shooting woefully poorly from behind the arc. That second point is a travesty for any NBA team, but it’s particularly hard on Van Gundy teams, which require good spacing.
The Hornets could use this game to grease the little offensive spark they found recently. If the Pistons can’t defend them, the Hornets would be happy to drop more than 110 points on them for the sixth time in their last nine games.
It’s a bummer Cody Zeller won’t play tonight, as Andre Drummond won’t have much trouble out-muscling Roy Hibbert in the post. Hornets head coach Steve Clifford has opted for a group approach to defending Drummond in the past, particularly on the glass. Look for that again tonight, though my fingers are crossed Hibbert holds his own.
The other three of the Hornets’ core players — Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist — each played more than 30 minutes last night, and a hard 30 minutes at that. That could be problematic if the Pistons come out with energy. The Pistons haven’t played since Tuesday.
If the Hornets get a win tonight they’ll have a 2-1 lead on them in the series, which could pay off big come April. The two teams play each other once more after tonight, a game in Detroit in late February.
Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. Wonder if we can get another good show from Frank Kaminsky?
Listen to Locked On Hornets for more on tonight’s game: