Another last possession, another empty trip as Pistons lose to Hornets again
Chris Schwegler (NBAE/Getty)
Three quick observations from Friday night’s 110-107 loss to the Charlotte Hornets at Little Caesars Arena
SAME STORY – If the Pistons find themselves scrambling for a playoff spot in April, they’ll rue their three losses to Charlotte – by a total of seven points – within two weeks of each other in November. Friday’s loss saw the Pistons trail narrowly most of the game but open an eight-point lead midway through the fourth quarter before getting outscored 15-4 the rest of the way. In all three games, the Pistons had the ball with a chance to tie or win in the final five seconds. Trailing by three points with nine seconds left, the Pistons got two 3-pointers – Luke Kennard’s from the top and Langston Galloway, who chased down the deep rebound and launched from mid-court at the buzzer, the shot rimming out – but failed to force overtime. Neither team built anything more than a seven-point lead until the Pistons went ahead by 103-95 with 5:25 to play. As soon as they did, they went four straight possessions without a point to let Charlotte right back in the game. The game began as a 3-point contest as Kennard and Charlotte’s Terry Rozier got their teams going, Kennard hitting 4 of 5 triples and Rozier 4 of 4 in the first quarter, which ended with Charlotte ahead 38-37 with the teams combining to hit 15 of 25, 60 percent of the quarter’s 75 points coming from the 3-point arc. The Pistons hit 15 of 35 from the arc, Charlotte 19 of 38. Rookie lottery pick P.J. Washington finished with 26 for Charlotte, 11 in the fourth quarter.
ROTATION STABILITY – With Reggie Jackson currently the only rotation piece unavailable – Jackson has missed 16 straight games and is due to be re-evaluated for the lower back stress fracture incurred in the preseason – Dwane Casey kept a 10-man playing group going for the second straight game. Tony Snell, who returned at Charlotte on Wednesday after a four-game absence with a hip injury, appeared more in the groove after looking rusty in his return. Snell his all three of his 3-point attempts in Friday’s first half, but missed his only try of the second, finishing with nine points and four rebounds in 21 minutes. Snell came off the bench to start the game but started the second half. Svi Mykhailiuk had some nice first-half moments, capitalizing on some of the momentum he established from getting a chance to play during Snell’s absence. Mykhailiuk hit a contested corner triple on a baseline out of bounds play with the shot clock about to go off and made the extra pass to feed one of Snell’s first-half triples. Langston Galloway, who scored a career-high 32 two weeks ago at Charlotte as part of a career-best 14-game streak of double-digits scoring, saw the streak end. His only points came on a four-point play that broke a 95-all tie and sparked the 8-0 run to momentarily put the Pistons ahead by eight.
TURNOVER DEFICIT – The Pistons lost the two previous meetings this month between the teams at Charlotte by a combined four points and turnovers were a huge part of it both times. In the 109-106 loss on Nov. 15, the Pistons committed 21 turnovers for 27 Charlotte points to 11 turnovers for 11 Pistons points on the other side. In Wednesday’s 102-101 loss, the Pistons drastically reduced their turnovers and the damage inflicted – to nine for 15 points – but Charlotte coughed it up only four times for seven Pistons points. The Pistons again weren’t very successful at causing Charlotte any duress the third time around. The Hornets committed zero turnovers in the first quarter and only two in the first half, the first coming on an unsuccessful lob try almost seven minutes into the second quarter, before finishing with 10. The Pistons, meanwhile, again limited their turnovers, committing 14, with Charlotte finishing with a 14-10 edge in points off turnovers. The Hornets aren’t one of the NBA’s best caretakers of the basketball, coming into the game 21st in turnovers at 16.1 a game, ahead of the Pistons in 27th at 16.9. The Pistons are also 27th in opponents points off turnovers at 20.2.