(Written by David W. Walters)
The Charlotte Hornets (2-2) fell behind early and never recovered in a 104-84 loss to the Detroit Pistons (3-1) on Wednesday. The game had an 11:00 a.m. tip-off time to accommodate a raucous crowd made up of school kids that witnessed a poor shooting effort from the Hornets.
Not much went right for the Hornets in this one as the Pistons came into the game as one of the top passing teams of the preseason and they used that ball movement to accumulate 28 assists to Charlotte’s 15. All that ball movement did make for plenty of giveaways, as the Pistons turned the ball over 14 times to the Hornets six turnovers, but Charlotte was unable to use that to their advantage as they shot 34% from the field and 14% from beyond the arc. The Pistons, meanwhile, shot very well, knocking down 48% from the field and 40% from three-point range.
A glaring difference in the stats from the game was the rebounding difference. The Pistons simply dominated the boards, grabbing 58 rebounds with 15 of them coming on the offensive side, while the Hornets only managed 36 rebound, with eight of them coming off the offensive glass.
The Hornets had fallen behind by 13 at the conclusion of the first quarter due to an uninspired effort on both ends of the floor. The team woke up in the second quarter but was only able to keep up as both teams played up-tempo on the way to a 43-56 halftime deficit. The Hornets came out of the locker room flat once again, looking sluggish and letting the Pistons extend their lead as they coated to an easy victory as they dominated Charlotte in nearly every phase of the game.
Gary Neal led the Hornets in scoring for the third time in four preseason games, scoring 20 points on 5-9 shooting and hitting all ten of his free throws. Al Jefferson had his work cut out for him down low, but managed to put up ten points and seven rebounds while Michael Kidd-Gilchrist chipped in six points and seven boards of his own.
Brian Roberts started in place of Kemba Walker and scored ten points and Lance Stephenson played a team-high 33 minutes and put up eight points to go with three rebounds and three assists as he continues to find his way in the Hornets system. Rookie P.J. Hairston knocked down two shots from long range on the way to ten points and Jason Maxiell saw his most time of the preseason, scoring five points and grabbing three boards.
The Pistons spread the minutes all over in this game with six players scoring in double figures. Andre Drummond and Josh Smith both had double-doubles; Drummond scored 15 points and grabbed 14 rebounds while Smith had 14 points and ten rebounds of his own. Former Charlotte point guard D.J. Augustin had 16 points, six assists and four rebounds off the pine for Detroit.
Walker sat out the game to rest a knee contusion suffered on Monday night, while Gerald Henderson and Noah Vonleh sat out once again as they continue to work their way back from injuries of their own.
The Hornets are back in action on Friday night at 7 p.m. as they travel to Washington to face the Wizards for the second time this preseason. Charlotte won their first matchup 99-86 in Greenville, S.C. last Friday.
you can follow David W. Walters on Twitter @Original_DWade.
Photo credit (NBAE/Getty Images)