Bismack Biyombo scored 19 points to lead six Hornets in double figures, including Devonte’ Graham who had a career high 15 assists to go with his 16 points, as the Charlotte Hornets took down the Detroit Pistons in another nail biter, 102-101.
The Hornets forced a Pistons timeout in less than three minutes by hitting their first three shots and jumping out to an 11-3 lead. The Hornets finally missed on their sixth shot, a Devonte’ Graham pull-up from 20 feet. Miles Bridges had a couple strong right handed drives and a 3-pointer with a Bismack Biyombo and-1 thrown in the middle. The Hornets defense started to slip as the reserves trickled in. The Pistons finished the quarter on a 9-2 run to take a 32-31 lead into the break. Biyombo led the Hornets with 9 points in the quarter.
Nicolas Batum opened the scoring in the second quarter with a rare dunk, which was followed by another strong Bridges drive. Batum played with more aggression than we’ve seen from him in a long time. After the dunk, he hit an elbow jumper, drove for a layup off the dribble from the 3-point line, and drew a foul shooting a 3-pointer. He scored nine points in the first four-plus minutes of the second quarter and combined with Bridges to score 13 of the Hornets first 15 in the frame. Biyombo made a couple of nice left handed layups off interior feeds. The trio of Batum, Biyombo, and Bridges led the Hornets with 13, 11, and 11 points respecitvely in the first half. It kept the Hornets within five points of the Pistons at the half despite frigid 4-of-17 shooting from three.
PJ Washington, who only played four first half minutes due to foul trouble, forced his way inside and scored an and-1 15 seconds into the second half. It was the start of a 10-0 run to start the half for the Hornets, which included this beautiful dime from Bridges to Biyombo.
The run put the Hornets up five, but the lead only lasted for about three minutes before the Pistons retook the lead. But the Hornets finished the quarter as strongly as they started it, scoring eight unanswered points in the final 1:19 of the quarter to give them a six point lead heading into the final quarter. PJ Washington got a couple buckets rolling to the bucket during the run.
The fourth started pretty evenly on the scoreboard, but the Hornets won it by miles if you go by style points.
(Got the Fox Sports Southeast social media team working double time tonight)
That dunk forced the Pistons to take a timeout, after which the Hornets went exactly four game minutes without a bucket. A few free throws and some solid defense kept them afloat during the dry spell. Terry Rozier reignited the team and the arena by poking the ball away from Andre Drummond while he tried to bring the ball up the court. He got the ball back against the scrambling Pistons and hit a 3-pointer to put the Hornets up six with just over two minutes to go. The Pistons answered with a Luke Kennard floater and a Blake Griffin 3-pointer to pull back within one point.
James Borrego let the Hornets play after the made bucket, but the offense hit a roadblock and couldn’t get a good look at the basket. The Pistons got the ball back and called timeout with 12.7 seconds to play. Bismack Biyombo tipped the first inbound attempt away to drain a couple seconds off the clock and pushed the Pistons into the back court. The next inbound successfully went into Rose, but Batum reached out and fouled the streaking Rose before he could get a look at the basket, forcing the Pistons to inbound the ball again. The ball again went to Rose, who pulled up from the elbow to win it, but Biyombo and Bridges furiously closed out on the shot, forcing Rose to turn his shot into a pass. The pass found Kennard, but he was unable to get a shot up before the final buzzer.
The Hornets exploited the Pistons sloppy pick and roll defense. Most of Biyombo and Washington’s buckets game on dunks and layups after being left alone to roll to the basket. Washington rebounded from early foul trouble to pour in 17 points in just 21 minutes of action, and the team was +15 in those minutes. Batum and Bridges took a back seat as scorers in the second half after putting up big totals in the first half, but they were picked up by Washington and Graham.
Andre Drummond was held in check again. He picked up five fouls and was held to 14 points. He grabbed 21 rebounds, but 18 of those were relatively inconsequential defensive rebounds.
The Hornets will look to pick up another win over the Pistons in Detroit on Friday.