Whoo! Terry Rozier is in the building! Swagger on a hundred! Thousand! Trillion!
The Detroit Pistons came into The Hive a shell of its former self. Derrick Rose is gone. Blake Griffin is gone.They were a team with nothing else to lose… save for basketball games. The Charlotte Hornets came home to the Spectrum center off of a relatively successful .500 west coast road trip, during which they became quite the national topic of debate in the sports media-verse. After an eight day all-star lay off, with every player on the roster healthy, would the Hornets fall into the trap or take care of business?
It is important to note that this game is the first that the Hornets played in front of a home crowd. It is also important that the crowd included medical staff from the local hospital system, who even in normal times deserve praise.
The night started off as a beautiful mess. The Hornets mounted and maintained a double digit lead behind a team effort. The pace on both sides of the court was blazing quick. The three pointers that are the lifeblood of the James Borrego offense were not falling to the tune of 4/14. However, when plan A wasn’t working, the team hit the paint. The passes kept flying, with 13 assists posted before halftime. But the lead came from a transition offense created by turnovers. The Hornets were swarming the passing lanes resulting in ten Detroit Piston turnovers by halftime. Every Hornet with minutes scored in the first half, besides your boy, Bizmack Biyombo whose only attempt got swatted out of the air like a flying insect of some kind. The home team ended the first half with a 9-point lead.
The sloppy play continued into the third quarter. Detroit chipped at Charlotte’s lead by matching then setting the pace. Jerami Grant expended every ounce of energy in his body to will his team within a basket of the lead. Poor shooting from the arc let the Pistons back into the game with only two long balls finding the bottom of the net in the entire third quarter. The Hornets weren’t shooting the lights out, but they went out in the arena anyway with two minutes left in the third. Eric Collins coming in with the always welcomed pun, “That’s the night that the lights went out in Charlotte.” Devonte’ Graham saved the Hornets lead with a last second floater in the paint, but Charlotte went into the final quarter with a point between them and the hapless Detroit Pistons.
The Hornets started the 4th with a small-ball line-up and the Pistons took advantage. Plumlee attacked the paint, backing up the likes of Cody Martin and Malik Monk and finishing over them with ease. It’s telling, and probably not great for the ol’ SEO, that LaMelo Ball hasn’t been featured prominently. However, the phenom looked like the rookie he is during the majority of the game. Errant passes and off balance floaters rendering him uncharacteristically moot. However, Malik’s performance off the bench and Gordon Hayward’s understated leadership kept the Hornets in the game.
On the Detroit side, Jerami Grant was a man on fire. His game has expanded by necessity since his time with the Denver Nuggets and he has become the key to the Pistons having any chance of being competitive. The Hornets left the 3-point line open as is their wont with the away team notching 46 attempts from deep.
But Terry Rozier, who came into the 4th quarter with five measly points, tightened the back brace and deadlifted his team in crunch time. Terry’s squirreliness resulted in two 4-point plays and a 3-point play the hard way to extend the lead and get his team over the century mark with a minute and change to go. He then proceeded to put this game on ice with a butter churning three and a textbook floater. Even with every Piston staring daggers at him and trying to deny him the pass, Terry found a way to score. Terry Rozier again drug this Hornets team to victory. It is great to have Devonte’ Graham back. It is exciting to see the potential of LaMelo Ball. But the path to the playoffs, the lynchpin to victory for these Charlotte Hornets is scary Terry Rozier.
The Hornets have now been in 10 one possession games, taking the victory in six of them. If they are to make a real playoff push these types of games against these types of teams have to result in wins, even if they come in ugly packages. In the after game interview Terry stated, “It is my job to keep everybody poised.” Terry Rozier has embodied that sentiment and is the player the team looks to in time of need. The Charlotte Hornets have one day to ice up as they take on the Tompa Bay Raptors on Saturday at The Hive in what has to be the fiftieth time this season they’ve played the ex-pat Toronto crew.