The Hornets came out of the gates swinging. Cody Zeller had six points in the game’s first four minutes. The Hornets repeatedly got inside at will and got several good looks from behind the arc. A Willy Hernangomez 3-pointer in the final seconds put the Hornets up 37-25. The Hornets’ centers combined for 19 points on eight for eight shooting in the first quarter.
The Hornets built the lead up to fourteen for a spell before the Pistons finally found the gall to make a run. A 9-0 run cut the lead to 43-39 with 7:45 to go in the second frame. The Hornets responded with a run of their own and built the margin back up to thirteen in about two minutes. Then the Pistons cut the lead back down to four. After all the yo-yoing, the Hornets went into the half with a 60-55 lead. Kemba Walker continued his slump, connecting on only two of his twelve shot attempts.
The second half couldn’t have started any worse for the Hornets. Walker threw up a bad shot looking for a foul, then Zeller left the ball in the back court for a Pistons dunk. Coach JB called a timeout, and the Hornets responded with another turnover in near half court, which led to another Pistons dunk. The Hornets missed their first eleven shots of the half before Walker made a step back 3-pointer. The Hornets were never able to gather themselves, ultimately connecting on just four of 21 shot attempts in the quarter while the Pistons outscored them 38-22. After three, the deficit was 11.
The Hornets started the fourth quarter on a 7-2 run, but the Pistons quickly countered. The Hornets trailed by ten at the halfway point of the quarter, then Walker found his shot. He scored eleven points over a four minute stretch to put the Hornets up 104-101 with 46.8 seconds to go. Andre Drummond muscled in a layup with Walker on his arm and hit the ensuing free throw to tie the game. Walker answered with a free throw of his own, putting the ball back in the hands of the Pistons with a one point deficit and 30.6 seconds to go. Next was Blake Griffin’s turn at the free throw line, but he missed both attempts. The Hornets got the final crack it in the final seconds, and Jeremy Lamb connected on a long two with 0.3 seconds to go.
It wasn’t over though. Bismack Biyombo ran onto the floor as the Pistons inbounded the ball and got called for a technical foul. Langston Galloway hit the free throw, but the Pistons couldn’t convert their full court alley oop attempt. After the mayhem subsided, the Hornets walked away with a 108-107 victory.
The game was marked by a strong start and a strong finish for the home team with stretches of awful basketball in between. These are the kinds of games the Hornets have struggled with in recent seasons, and pulling out this win should add to the group’s confidence. The Hornets went on a 17-2 run to put themselves in a position to win it. Walker scored 12 of those. It’s possible this is a jumping off point for the captain as he tries to work his way out of his slump.
Up next for the Hornets is a rematch against the New York Knicks in Charlotte. It’ll be a classic night.