Pistons squander early lead and late chance to win, fall to Hornets at buzzer
Charlotte, N.C. — At several points on Friday night, the Pistons looked to be in complete control.
They built double-digit leads in the first and second quarters and had a comfortable 14-point lead at halftime and they were cruising.
In the third quarter, it went from cruise control to no brakes and a downhill plunge, as the Charlotte Hornets took advantage of turnovers and poor defense and took the lead in the fourth quarter.
The Pistons (4-9) regained the lead in the final minute on Langston Galloway’s seventh 3-pointer and looked as if they would avoid a disastrous collapse.
Not so much.
Malik Monk hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer and the Hornets took a 109-106 victory over the Pistons at Spectrum Center.
The loss extends the losing streak to four games for the Pistons (4-9) and ends the two-game southern trip with a thud. They can seethe over a lost opportunity for a few days, as they don’t play again until Wednesday at Chicago.
Galloway had a standout night, with career highs in points (32) and 3-pointers made (seven).
“I can’t really say it was (a good individual performance) because we lost. We have to get back in the gym and figure out how we can cut these turnovers,” Galloway said. “This is the second time they got us at the buzzer here, so it’s a tough one to swallow.”
The Pistons had a 14-point lead in the first half, but turnovers let the Hornets back into the game. The most costly came with one second remaining, with the score tied at 106. Derrick Rose was holding for the final possession and drove the lane, with four Hornets defenders collapsing on him.
He threw the ball out, but no one was there to receive it and the ball went out of bounds. On the final possession, Hornets coach James Borrego called timeout and drew up the play for Monk. Andre Drummond left his man and got a hand in Monk’s face, but Monk made a tough shot for the winner.
“It hurts; the guys played well enough to win, but again our same bugaboo, turnovers — 21 times for 27 points — we’ve got to curb,” coach Dwane Casey said. “It hurts because I thought we shot the ball 50 percent and 43 percent from 3.”
Most of that will get lost in the disappointment after the Pistons gave up a second-chance 3-pointer to Marvin Williams with 22.5 seconds left and had Rose’s turnover on the errant pass.
“It hurts a lot but I’ll take the blame for tonight with late turnovers,” Rose said. “I’ll figure it out.”
The Hornets (5-7) got the ball back with one second left and coach James Borrego drew up a sideline play for Monk (19 points), who jumped over two defenders and made the final shot, sending the Hornets crowd into a frenzy.
The Pistons had a 65-51 lead at halftime but a 32-18 Hornets run in the third quarter erased the margin. Devonte Graham (18 points and 10 assists) and Cody Zeller hit 3-pointers in the final 33 seconds to pull into an 83-83 tie.
The Hornets took their biggest lead, 96-88, after Monk and Graham combined for a 9-0 run. The Pistons responded with baskets by Blake Griffin (19 points and six assists) and Andre Drummond (16 points and 20 rebounds). Galloway hit another 3-pointer to pull within 98-95 but Williams answered with a 3-pointer.
In the final minutes, Galloway and Rose hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Galloway added his go-ahead 3-pointer but those were the last points the Pistons scored.