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Recap: Mark Williams exits early with thumb injury, Hornets defeat Pistons, 113-103

The Hornets controlled the game from the outset as they took down the cellar dwelling Pistons.

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

The Charlotte Hornets defeated the Detroit Pistons 113-103, but they lost Mark Williams to a thumb injury for to be determined amount of time.

PJ Washington got the Hornets going with the team’s first three made baskets in the first two minutes of the game. The Hornets were active on defense while the Pistons played rather reckless, frenetic basketball. The Pistons turned the ball over eight times in the first quarter alone with six of those being steals by the Hornets. Terry Rozier scored a couple of tough baskets in the final few minutes of the quarter to help the Hornets to an eight point lead after a very fast paced first quarter.

The Hornets lost their grip on the lead as the second quarter wore on. The Pistons cut the margin all the way down in the last couple minutes of the quarter thanks to a lot of interior scoring. The Hornets restored their lead back to nine with a flurry of points capped off by a fading Terry Rozier three to put the Hornets back up nine at the half.

During the first half, Mark Williams went back to the locker room to get his thumb examined. He returned to the game in the second quarter with his thumb wrapped, but that would be all the time he’d get for the night. He didn’t play in the second half with what has been diagnosed as a sprained thumb.

The Hornets kept up the momentum through the halftime break and made their first five shots of the third quarter. A Pistons timeout seemed to break that momentum, and three quick turnovers from PJ Washington and a questionable transition take foul call on Terry Rozier helped the Pistons cut back into the deficit. With Mark Williams out, Kai Jones filled in the backup center spot. The Hornets thrived with he and the bench unit in and restored their lead back to double figures by quarter’s end. Dennis Smith Jr had a couple of highlight layups to pace the Hornets offense.

The Hornets started the fourth quarter by scoring the first eight points. Kai Jones was particularly impactful on both ends of the floor to help spur the run. PJ Washington bullied the Pistons inside and repeatedly got to the free throw line against smaller Pistons defenders. Otherwise, the fourth quarter was essentially the opposite of the first. While the first quarter was fast and frenetic, the fourth saw both teams play at a much slower pace and with a lot more whistles. The Hornets were able to maintain a low to mid double digit lead for much of the quarter, and the Pistons never really threatened with any meaningful time left. Kelly Oubre hit a deep three to put the Hornets up 15 with under two minutes to play that served as the dagger.

No word yet on the status of Williams’ thumb injury, but assuming there’s no fracture or significant ligament damage, it’s likely to be a minor injury that won’t be too big a deal moving forward.

Kelly Oubre led the Hornets with an uncharacteristically quiet 27 points. Terry Rozier and PJ Washington scored 21 and 20 points respectively while Nick Richards and Dennis Smith had strong games off the bench.

The Hornets return home for a five game homestand that starts with the Utah Jazz on Saturday.