The Charlotte Hornets lost a heartbreaker to the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night, 127-126. A buzzer-beater from Kelly Olynyk sealed the deal for Detroit, stunning fans at Spectrum Center. After a convincing win over the Toronto Raptors, the Hornets took another step back.
After the game, James Borrego spoke about the Pistons’ play down the stretch. He credited them for making tough shots, inching their way ahead of the Hornets.
“They made some big shots, we made some big shots. They just made one more than us. Obviously, we had free throws, we had layups to close out this game. Didn’t go our direction, give them credit. They made some tough shots.”
Cade Cunningham and Olynyk combined for 26 fourth-quarter points on their own. Meanwhile, Jerami Grant carried the load for Detroit in overtime, scoring seven of their 11 points and nailing some tough shots in the process.
Despite their record, this win marked Detroit’s third in their last four games. They’ve been playing physical, hard-nosed basketball and it’s showing up in the win column. Borrego shouted out big man Isaiah Stewart, in particular, for his intensity down low.
“They’re a good team. They’ve been playing well. We said before the game, Stewart’s a big boy on the boards. I think our guys were trying, they were competing. Stewart just wanted a little bit more early on. But I think our guys battled, Detroit hit some big shots, and, you know, give them credit.”
Miles Bridges also chipped in postgame, giving credit to the Pistons for playing hard. In his eyes, Charlotte just wasn’t able to match Detroit’s intensity.
“They just played harder than us. They deserved to win that game, they played harder than us. We didn’t turn it on until the fourth quarter, late third. They played hard the whole game so they deserved to win that.”
Charlotte got out-rebounded 54-46, and the Pistons pulled down a whopping 22 offensive boards - 10 more than the Hornets. Detroit was constantly fighting down low for second-chance opportunities, and because of it, they ended up attempting 21 more shots than the Hornets did (110-89).
Terry Rozier echoed Bridges’ sentiments, saying that the Hornets just failed to make the effort plays toward the end. In a game as close as this one way, hustle is everything, and Charlotte simply did not bring it.
“We ain’t got no choice but to move on. There’s a lot of things we could have done different. But it all came down to effort plays. They beat us on the effort plays at the end.”
But as Borrego, Bridges, and Rozier also noted, there’s no time to dwell on a loss like this. Charlotte has night two of their back-to-back to think of, as they take on the reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night. That game tips off at 8:00 p.m. in Milwaukee.