The Charlotte Hornets entered the season with a six game win streak over the Detroit Pistons. They kept that streak rolling with a win at the buzzer thanks to Malik Monk. Just 12 days later, they faced the Pistons two more times in a home-and-home on either side of the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Hornets entered the first game of the home-and-home on a five game losing streak hoping that a visit from the Pistons would be just what the doctor ordered. That looked to be the case early, as the Hornets broke from their MO and started the game strongly, jumping out to an 11-3 lead. The Pistons erased that deficit as the quarter wore on and held a point lead at the end of the first quarter. That lead grew to five at the half.
The Hornets came out rejuvenated to start the second half, scoring ten straight points out of the break. The teams played to a standstill all the way until the final moments of the game.
The Hornets took a six point lead with just over two minutes to play when Terry Rozier picked Andre Drummond in the back court after a defensive rebound. He found Devonte’ Graham streaking up the court in transition who fed it back to Rozier for an open corner three. That would be the last bucket the Hornets would score that evening.
The Pistons hit a couple jumpers to pull within one point with 42 seconds to play. After PJ Washington missed a three to put the game away, the Pistons got the ball back with a chance to win it. They wouldn’t even attempt a shot. Nicolas Batum gave the Hornets last foul to give with eight seconds to play. After the Pistons next inbound, Derrick Rose held the ball to long and the buzzer sounded before Luke Kennard had a chance to release his shot off Rose’s pass.
Just 48 hours later, the Hornets went for their ninth straight wins over the Pistons. Terry Rozier came out of the gates on fire, scoring 14 first quarter points on 4-of-4 shooting from deep. The Hornets as a team hit 8-of-12 threes and scored 38 points in the opening period, but they were matched shot for shot by the Pistons, who only trailed by one at that point.
The two teams played dead even until the Hornets hit a three-and-a-half minute scoreless spell in the middle of the fourth quarter. That scoreless spell turned a tie game into an eight point Hornets deficit with less than six minutes to play. PJ Washington finally lifted the lid with a tough contested 3-pointer. Three minutes later, he hit another three to pull the Hornets within one. After Andre Drummond got called for an elbow to the face of Bismack Biyombo, Graham hit a three of his own to put the Hornets on top with less than two minutes to play.
The Pistons pulled within one on a Blake Griffin free throw. After a Graham turnover, the Pistson had a chance to take the lead with under a minute to play. Luke Kennard missed a jumper, but Andre Drummond reeled in the offensive board and looked poised to dunk home the putback. Bismack Biyombo would have none of it. He swatted away the dunk attempt and the loose ball was recovered by PJ Washington, who was fouled by Kennard to stop the Hornets on the fast break.
With the Hornets up three, the ball again found Drummond in a key moment. He threw his pass straight to PJ Washington. The Hornets couldn’t score on the ensuing possession, giving the Pistons nine seconds to come up with a game-tying basket. Kennard’s attempt drew back iron. The long rebound was knocked around and ended up in the hands of Langston Galloway at half court, and his desperation attempt rattled in and out.
The Hornets went on to sweep the season series a few months later, giving them nine straight wins over the Pistons. As Dell Curry said on the broadcast, “the Hornets might own real estate in the heads of the Pistons.”