'There is no excuse': Pistons fall to Hornets for third time in two weeks
Detroit — For 40 minutes, the game had much the same look and feel as the first two meetings this season. The Pistons and Charlotte Hornets twice have played down to the last seconds, with a final possession deciding the outcome both times.
That included Wednesday’s thriller, with the Hornets prevailing after the Pistons couldn’t get a shot attempt off on the final possession.
Friday’s matchup looked like it would be different at the end.
The Pistons looked to have things under control, taking an eight-point lead with 5:25 remaining, but the Hornets rallied to make it close at the end. Rookie P.J. Washington hit a pair of free throws and helped the Hornets hold on for a 110-107 victory at Little Caesars Arena.
It’s the ninth straight win in the head-to-head series for the Hornets (8-12) and the third over the Pistons in the past two weeks.
Derrick Rose had 23 points, Luke Kennard 21, Blake Griffin 17 points and Andre Drummond 15 points and 19 rebounds for the Pistons (6-13), who haven’t won consecutive games this season.
“Right now, we haven’t shown that we’re willing to do the things to win. (The mood is) really light in here after a win,” Griffin said. “To me, it seems like we love the victory, but we don’t like the fight. You’re not going to win games like that.”
The game was tied at 95 before Langston Galloway made a 4-point play at the 6:45 mark. Kennard followed with back-to-back jumpers and the Pistons had their largest lead, 103-95, and looked to be in control.
Hornets rookie P.J. Washington (26 points) answered with a 3-pointer and Terry Rozier (23 points) followed with a reverse off a steal. Bismack Biyombo’s basket trimmed the lead to one and the Pistons fans were panicking, sensing another close finish.
Coach Dwane Casey attributes much of the unfamiliarity with injuries from the summer and preseason that prevented the team from jelling normally — making this the time that they’re learning many of their tendencies as a group.
It’s bleeding into the season and almost a quarter of the way into the schedule, the sense of urgency is needed to pull things together.
“This group, we could twist it all we want to, but when you miss summer, and you miss all of the exhibition and training camp — this is basically everybody’s training camp — with really limited practice,” Casey said. “It sounds like a bunch of excuses, and there is no excuse.
“We are putting ourselves in position to win; we just have to get thought in the game, and execution in the fourth quarter and down the stretch.”
Rose hit a 3-pointer with 2:35 remaining but the Hornets had another rally. Washington and Devonte Graham made back-to-back 3-pointers, regaining the lead, 108-106.
Griffin was fouled but split the two free throws, with 1:29 left. Washington finished the scoring, with two free throws with 47.7 seconds remaining.
The Pistons had two final attempts — a contested 3-pointer by Luke Kennard and a heave from near halfcourt by Galloway, that rimmed out.
“Losing obviously isn’t fun. You can tell by the atmosphere in the locker room that we hate to lose,” Kennard said. “It’s kind of a good thing that we’ve got guys that want to win but we’ve got to figure something out.”
► The Pistons shot 15-of-35 on 3-pointers (43 percent), with five by Kennard and three each by Tony Snell and Rose. It was a good showing from beyond the arc, but the Hornets were better, hitting 50 percent (19-of-38), including a pair in the final 2:17 to help cut into the lead and spur the comeback.
► In the two previous meetings, there were questions about what Rose did on the final possessions, but there weren’t any such queries this time. Kennard got a good look at a final 3-pointer and even Galloway’s halfcourt heave was a decent look.
► Kennard was more aggressive in the starting lineup, getting a team-high17 shots attempts, including 5-of-10 from beyond the arc. He had four assists and looked for his shot often, with the final possession being the most prominent.
► The Pistons again had trouble defending Washington, who was effective on both ends, adding five rebounds, four steals and three assists. He’s become an under-the-radar addition and as the Hornets are committing to using their young players, he’s become a good find.
► Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was sitting at halfcourt, getting a glimpse at his former player, Miles Bridges, who had 16 points and seven rebounds. Bridges has been a steady contributor since entering the starting lineup for the Hornets, with some injuries limiting their rotation.