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Recap: Hornets lose lottery-relevant showdown with the Pistons, 118-112

This game may end up being very relevant come May.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Detroit Pistons Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets moved one step closer to the top of the lottery odds with a loss to the Detroit Pistons, 118-112.

The Hornets got off to a sluggish start. They made just two of their first 11 shots as they dug an early double digit deficit. Terry Rozier scores three acrobatic layups in a row to help the Hornets back into the game quickly. The teams traded blows for the rest of the quarter from there. LaMelo Ball set up two dunks in the final 1:10 to help the Hornets to a one point lead after one.

The teams started the second quarter on a torrid pace. They went back and forth for most the quarter, and neither team led by more than one possession from the ten minute mark through the end of the half. Ball, Rozier, and Gordon Hayward all tallied double digit scoring halves, and the Hornets went into the break down by one.

After a couple of Pistons buckets to start the second half, the Hornets responded with an 11-4 run to take a small lead. The game continued on the same trend that was set in the first half where the teams traded the lead and frequently played within one possession of one another. Both teams made exactly 10 out of 24 shots and three 3-pointers. The only difference in the quarter was the three free throws the Hornets made. That free throw difference put the Hornets up two heading into the fourth.

Saddiq Bey hit a three to put the Pistons up early in the fourth. A short time later, we were treated to one of the better pair of free throws you’ll see. Hamidou Diallo barely grazed the rim on his first free throw attempt and corrected that by shooting the ball even shorter and airballing the second attempt. Then bouncy Dennis did it again.

The refs helped the momentum of the game from there by calling offensive fouls on three straight possessions between the two teams.

A PJ Washington three put the Hornets up seven at the seven minute mark, which would be their largest lead of the night. Everything fell apart from there. The Hornets went almost five minutes without a field goal after Washington’s three. They only made three of their last 11 shot attempts and suffered through Mason Plumlee going 3-of-8 from the free throw line. LaMelo Ball got called for his fifth foul for getting dragged to the ground by Jaden Ivey chasing a loose ball. Ivey’s free throws gave the Pistons the lead. Ball was able to tie the game with a drive past Bojan Bogdanovic plus the foul. Saddiq Bey unbroke the tie with a 3-pointer with 32 seconds to play.

The Hornets got called for a 5-second violation on the ensuing broadcast (the broadcast thought it was quick, but I timed it at just a bit past five seconds). LaMelo Ball got called for his sixth foul to stop the clock and force the Pistons to the line. The Pistons made their free throws and cruised to a win.

It was an odd fourth quarter to watch. The Hornets looked like the better team—they ran better looking offense and looked more organized. They just couldn’t make shots and put the Pistons on the line too many times.

Ball finished with 23 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, and five steals. Rozier chipped in 23 points of his own.

PJ Washington had his second consecutive stinker. Over his last two games, he’s 6-of-30 from the field and 1-of-15 from three.

The Hornets loss to the Pistons means they are now separated by just half a game. The Hornets are tied in the loss column with the Rockets, who have the worst record in the league.

The Hornets will return home to take on the Magic in a Sunday matinee.