They just needed one more second.
Trailing by one point with 0.5 seconds left in the game, Marco Belinelli looked for Kemba Walker to spring free and provide another one of his trademark, heart-stopping game winners. At the last moment he saw an unlikely opportunity and inbounded the ball off of the back of the Pistons defender, collected the ball and launched a prayer that banked off of the glass and in for what could've been one of the most dramatic game winning shots in franchise history. He just needed a fraction of a second more.
The Detroit Pistons escaped with a 115-114 win against the Hornets, who were on the second night of a back-to-back after defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder at home on Tuesday night. The affects of that game were visible.
For the second game in as many nights, the Hornets got outworked in the low post, sorely missing the presence of starting center Cody Zeller.
The Pistons’ center tandem of Andre Drummond and Boban Marjanovic combined for 31 points and 28 rebounds and owned the paint all night. The Hornets looked to have been handed a gift in the first half as Andre Drummond, an All-Star last year, went to the bench early in the 1st quarter with foul trouble. But Marjonovic exploited Charlotte’s lack of size in his absence, finishing the first half with 10 point and 11 rebounds even in the face of constant triple-teams. He finished the game with 15 points and 19 rebounds.
The Hornets trailed for much of the game but they was always within striking distance. In the fourth quarter the Pistons exploited the Hornets visceral exhaustion, extending the lead to 20 at one point early in the fourth.
But Charlotte has Kemba Walker; and Kemba Walker does not know how to quit. The Hornets captain dragged the team all the way back, scoring 20 of his 32 points in the final quarter. It was shaping up to be another classic mythology-building game, complete with a signature game winning dagger.
He just couldn't get the ball.