Hornets seek bounce-back win over Pistons

NBA Basketball

The Charlotte Hornets have lost three of their last four games with the lone victory coming against the Detroit Pistons.

They’ll face the Pistons once again on Tuesday, this time in Detroit.

The Hornets (31-33) currently hold the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, one game ahead of Indiana and 1 1/2 games ahead of Washington.

Charlotte’s 107-94 win over Detroit on Saturday marked the return of rookie star LaMelo Ball, who missed 21 games with a broken wrist. Ball had 11 points and seven assists but backcourt partner Terry Rozier carried the offense with 29 points.

The Hornets blocked 15 shots as they defeated the Pistons for the 12th consecutive time.

Charlotte lost the second game of a back-to-back on Sunday, falling to Miami 121-111. Ball had 14 points and five assists but also committed five turnovers. P.J. Washington reached the 20-point mark for the fifth time in nine games, but Hornets allowed the Heat to shoot 51.1 percent from the field.

The Hornets had won the first two meetings with their Southeast Division rival.

“I thought our success against them a lot this season was the paint game,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said. “We had done a much better job of protecting the paint. We got exposed there (Sunday). They were big, they were physical and obviously, they’re a good team. They found their rhythm there in the second half.”

Miami was up by seven at halftime and took control by outscoring the Hornets 35-22 in the third quarter.

“This team was in the Finals last year,” forward Miles Bridges said. “They know what it’s like to be in the playoffs. They played more physical than us (Sunday) and it showed.”

Charlotte’s hopes of moving up to the sixth spot and avoiding the play-in tournament took a major hit with the loss, but Bridges shrugged it off.

“Just worry about our next game,” he said. “That’s the most important game. That’s all we can do.”

Detroit (19-46) is playing the second game of a back-to-back. The Pistons lost at home to Orlando — the team just ahead of them in the Eastern Conference standings — 119-112 on Monday night.

Orlando shot 51.1 percent from the field and scored 68 second-half points. Detroit gave up the lead late in the first half and never recovered.

“Some missed shots led to our defensive relaxation,” coach Dwane Casey said. “I thought we were soft on the ball. They shot 60-some percent in the third quarter, it was some ungodly number. I guess young guys think you don’t have to come out and compete every night. I don’t care who it is, you’ve got to come out and compete like your life depended on it.”

The Pistons continue to rest a host of regulars in the late going, including starters Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee. They’re giving their rookies ample playing time while also improving their chances of winning the draft lottery.

“We’re not talented enough across the board to not come out and play hard and compete at a high level,” Casey said. “Scratch, claw, be close enough to contest shots. Again, this is a great learning experience for these guys.”

–Field Level Media

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