It seems like almost every Pistons game against the Charlotte Hornets is going to come down to the final seconds. On Nov. 15 it was a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by the Hornets’ Malik Monk giving Charlotte a victory.
On the same court at Spectrum Center on Wednesday night, the Pistons had a last-second shot — they just couldn’t beat the buzzer.
The Pistons were down by one and had the final possession. After Derrick Rose was double-teamed on a drive, he passed to Luke Kennard, but the final seconds had run off the clock, closing a frenetic ending of a 102-101 loss to the Hornets.
“A little bit quicker. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. It always looks like it comes down to the last play and the execution of it,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said on Fox Sports Detroit. “We got the look we wanted; just go a little bit quicker.”
It was another disappointing loss for the Pistons, who fell to 6-12 and walked off the court shaking their heads yet again after missing an opportunity. The Hornets (7-12) won their eighth straight head-to-head against the Pistons.
In the final seconds of the last loss to the Hornets, Rose (13 points and eight assists) had a critical turnover in the final seconds, noting that he would have chosen a different play if he had it to do over again. This time, the outcome of the game was the same but it wasn’t because of a lack of options.
“We want Derrick to make a play; it wasn’t necessarily to go to Derrick. It was a flare screen for Blake on the weak side and it’s whoever was open,” Casey said. “Luke was open but it was a second too late.”
The Pistons (6-12) were down by six with 2:07 remaining, after a 3-pointer by Terry Rozier, who created the opportunity by getting a steal off Andre Drummond, who was bringing the ball up the court after a rebound. That gave the Hornets a 102-96 lead, but the Pistons rallied
Kennard (16 points) hit a lay-in to get within four and Griffin (26 points and six rebounds) hit his fourth 3-pointer of the game, to trim the lead to 102-101 with 41.4 seconds left. The Pistons got a stop and had a chance to win it but couldn’t get a good look at the basket.
Andre Drummond had 14 points, 21 rebounds and seven assists and had a good putback on the possession before Rozier got the big steal.
The Pistons led, 86-80, entering the fourth quarter and pushed the lead to eight with back-to-back dunks by rookie P.J. Washington (17 points). Rose (13 points) answered with a 3-pointer to end the mini-run.
The Hornets got a boost from a 10-0 run to open the third quarter, turning a five-point deficit into a five-point lead, with a lay-in and 3-pointer from Rozier.
There could be another last-second finish brewing, as the Pistons get a home-and-home rematch against the Hornets on Friday night at Little Caesars Arena.
►Griffin had struggled from beyond the arc this season and in the first half, he was 0-of-5 on 3-pointers. He got hot in the third quarter with two on consecutive possessions and a third in the fourth quarter, pulling the Pistons within one at the 4:12 mark. He’s still finding his rhythm but if he can start hitting from outside with regularity, it makes the rest of his game that much more effective. His minutes had an uptick as well, so he’s starting to get back to his regular playing time.
►Tony Snell returned to the lineup after a four-game absence because of a left hip flexor. After starting the first 13 games, Snell was a reserve on Wednesday night, playing 17 minutes. He was 0-for-2 from the field and missed a 3-pointer. It’s going to take some time for him to shake off some of the rust and get used to game speed again, but having him back got the rotation back to its normal look
►Drummond dominated on the boards and his seven assists came mostly from being at the top of the offense, distributing the ball effectively and finding cutting teammates. He had one foul in the first half but got into foul trouble, with his fifth late in the game, and had to play more tentatively defensively down the stretch.
►Christian Wood got the nod over Thon Maker, who didn’t play at all. Wood played just 10 minutes and had four points and four rebounds and was active, but didn’t play as big a role as he’s played in other games recently. It would seem that Wood has surpassed Maker in the rotation but it could be on a matchup basis.
►The Pistons have made a habit of giving up big runs to start the third quarter and the 10-0 run negated the five-point lead they built heading into halftime. Casey said he didn’t know how to fix the issue, but it’s a building concern, given how the Pistons are coming out of halftime.