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By Sam Perley
The Charlotte Hornets withstood a huge second-half rally from the Pistons as they kept their playoff hopes alive with a crucial 104-91 road win on Sunday, April 7 in Detroit. The triumph bumps the squad into ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings, now just one game back of the final postseason spot.
Kemba Walker finished the afternoon with game highs in scoring (31 points) and assists (7) to go along with eight rebounds in the victory. He also knocked down his 250th three-pointer of the campaign in the process, becoming the ninth different player in NBA history to reach this single-season milestone.
For a career-high third straight outing, Frank Kaminsky tallied a new season high as he finished with 24 points and five rebounds in just 26 minutes off the bench. Eight of Kaminsky’s points – including two momentum-shifting threes – came over the final 8:21 of the fourth quarter.
“I was just stepping in and shooting the ball with confidence,” said Kaminsky. “I know teams are going to try and run me off the three-point line, so I’m trying to get into the paint [and] either finish or make plays for other people. The last couple times, they thought I was going to drive. I just pulled up and shot it. Simple as that.”
Charlotte built up a 23-point first-half lead, but Detroit whittled the deficit down to just 85-84 with 8:01 left in the fourth. Kaminsky hit a three-pointer four possessions later and Walker soon added another long ball to stretch the advantage to seven with 3:29 remaining. The lead grew to double figures at the 2:18 mark with another Kaminsky triple, all but sealing the game.
“We just stuck with it,” said Hornets Head Coach James Borrego. “The resiliency was there. We just keep pounding. We’re not dying. We just keep pounding away. Really proud of [our] effort, our intensity, our focus tonight. That’s a big-time win.”
Jeremy Lamb totaled 17 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals off the bench, while Dwayne Bacon (14 points) and Miles Bridges (10 points) also scored in double figures for Charlotte. Bismack Biyombo chipped in six points, a team-high nine rebounds and two assists.
As for Detroit, Ish Smith scored a team-high 20 points off the bench and Andre Drummond notched his career-high 67th double-double of the season, finishing with 15 points, a game-high 23 rebounds and three blocks. Blake Griffin added 16 points on just 5-of-18 shooting.
The Hornets finished with just seven total turnovers leading to four points for Detroit. They also swept the Pistons in a season series of at least four games for the first time since 1994-95.
Charlotte will now make its final road appearance of the regular season against by taking on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, April 9 starting at 7 p.m. ET.