The Pistons ended their two-game win streak with a 113-103 loss to the Hornets. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
Detroit — Coming off a pair of wins in their two-game road trip last week, the Pistons looked to be gaining momentum in their season of sweeps. After winning four straight then losing five in a row, they were looking to extend the streak to three.
Allowing the Charlotte Hornets to shoot 51 percent from the field didn’t help the cause.
The Pistons’ offense didn’t make enough shots and the defense gave up a pair of crushing spurts to start the third and fourth quarters. That was enough for the Hornets to grab a 113-103 victory in a Sunday matinee at Little Caesars Arena.
Reggie Bullock did his part, making a career-best six 3-pointers for a career-high 23 points, and Andre Drummond added 23 points and 22 rebounds — his fifth 20-20 performance in 12 games — for the Pistons (6-6), who dropped their third straight home game.
“We played hard and played the right way,” said Reggie Jackson, who had 19 points on 6-for-15 shooting and seven assists. “We brought energy and got good shots — they just didn’t go in.
“It was too much up and down of our energy; that was the biggest thing. We just have to find a way to be consistent for 48 minutes.”
The Pistons didn’t have a defensive answer for guards Kemba Walker and Tony Parker, who shot a combined 20-of-35 from the field and each had 24 points for the Hornets (7-6).
The Hornets boosted a 51-49 halftime lead with a 7-0 run to start the third quarter, finishing with a jumper by Walker. Drummond answered with a putback but the Hornets pushed the margin to 15 with a 9-0 run, with a 3-pointer by Nicolas Batum, three free throws from Walker and a 3-pointer by Marvin Williams (10 points).
The Pistons got back within seven after an 8-0 run later in the period, with a 3-pointer and three free throws by Bullock, plus another Drummond putback, to make it 77-70, at the 3:10 mark. The Hornets led, 83-75, after three and started the fourth quarter with an 8-0 spurt, helping push the lead back to 16.
The Pistons struggled to stay close the rest of the way, as the deficit got up to 21 points.
Coach Dwane Casey noted that the Pistons got some good looks at shots, but as has been their struggle for much of the season, they didn’t fall when they needed them most.
“We got 104 shots up, with 10 turnovers, shooting 39 percent; I would say (the issue) was a lot of us,” Casey said. “A lot of the same looks that we have, our open looks, the analytics people said we had four bad 3s — and that still leaves us with 41. Again, it’s one of those games.
“We’re our own worst enemy in certain situations, as far as our defense is concerned. We’re supposed to be doing certain things, then we get caught in between things.”
Here are some other observations from the Pistons’ loss:
1. Bullock is back. He had his struggles from beyond the 3-point arc early in the season but he’s turned things around of late, going 3-for-6 in Friday’s win at Atlanta and with another solid showing Sunday, making six. Casey said it was a case of shots simply not falling — and he turned out to be right. With Bullock hitting again in the starting group, it opens another shooter and some other opportunities to play off Griffin and Drummond in the paint.
2. Griffin is getting more frustrated with no-calls from the officials. He’s getting contact in the paint and on drives to the rim but officials are holding their whistles. In turn, he’s getting frustrated and barking at the referees, which is getting him more technical fouls and even a flagrant foul, which led to an ejection in the fourth quarter. One benefit to getting Griffin last season was getting some of those superstar calls — which he did in the first few games — but that seems to have waned this season.
“I just think he’s getting hit on a lot of shots; I have to go back and see it, but that frustration builds up,” Casey said. “He’s had a lot of load on himself — bringing the ball up the floor, handling the basketball, being a point-forward then going down in the paint and battling down there. I think it’s taking a toll on him.”
3. Drummond continues to be a man among boys on the boards. He notched his fifth 20-20 game and was active on both ends of the court, with three assists, three steals and two blocks. He was in foul trouble in the first half, but settled down and was an integral part of their fourth-quarter push to get the deficit back into single digits. He scored six straight points during an 8-0 mid-quarter spurt and had a putback with 1:27 left to shave the lead to nine.
4. Stanley Johnson didn’t impact the game as he had in the previous two games but the bench group is starting to get some traction, with Langston Galloway and Ish Smith. It’ll be another transition when Luke Kennard returns from his shoulder sprain. They try to run more, which is a different pace than the starting group, but it’s working.
5. There doesn’t seem to be playing time for Henry Ellenson and rookies Khyri Thomas and Bruce Brown, who haven’t played in meaningful minutes the past few games. Casey looks to have established his rotation for now, which includes veteran Jose Calderon over the younger players.