Both teams struggled from the field out of the gate. A Marvin Williams 3-pointer was the only field goal either team converted out of the game’s first eight shots. A Kemba Walker moon ball gave the Hornets their biggest lead of the quarter at 19-11, but a Pistons run quickly cut the deficit to one score. After one, the Hornets led 25-21. They held the Pistons to 28.6% shooting in the period, but the Pistons 8-0 lead at the free throw line kept them within striking distance.
Willy Hernangomez and Miles Bridges spurred a quick 9-2 Hornets run to start the second quarter. Part of it was this:
The Pistons were again able to string a few good possessions together and make up that ground. The back half of the period dragged as both teams struggled to find a rhythm. The Hornets led 45-40 at the half with Kemba’s 11 points standing as the only mark in double figures for the home team.
The Hornets blitzed the Pistons to start the second half. Marvin Williams knocked down a trio of 3-pointers and Kemba was a toe on the line away from tossing in a pair of his own. The hot shooting cooled off down the stretch of the period and the Pistons were able to hang around. A pair of Miles Bridges free throws and a Tony Parker jumper were followed by a Stanley Johnson 3-pointer, which set the score at 75-65 heading into the final frame.
The beginning of the fourth quarter was the polar opposite of the third. The Hornets didn’t make a shot for nearly seven and a half minutes to start the quarter before a tough Jeremy Lamb layup broke the seal. His six straight points was followed by a Kemba crossover 3-pointer to put the Hornets up 90-78 with 2:38 to play. Kemba followed that with another dribbling exposé into a 3-pointer. A Nicolas Batum layup put the Pistons away and set the final score at 98-86.
This is the second straight solid shooting game for Kemba Walker. His shot looked pure and he shot it with the confidence we saw during his scorching hot start to the season. Jeremy Lamb battled back from a poor start to help put the Pistons away down the stretch.
This win was big for the Hornets for a number of reasons. It put the Hornets over the .500 line once again and above the Pistons in the standings. The head-to-head tiebreaker the Hornets now own could be key down the stretch as these teams seem destined to stay neck and neck in the standings. The win also marks the second straight game in which the Hornets held their opponent under 100 points. Head coach James Borrego has implored his team to defend, and they’ve responded.
Up next is a visit to Boston to take on a Celtics team that’s suddenly struggling after an eight game win streak.