Pistons storm back, fizzle late in 105-102 loss to Hornets

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

For much of the middle two quarters, the Pistons looked like they were going to be blown out in their return from the All-Star break.

They turned things around in the fourth quarter, when the Pistons cut down on the turnovers and the shots started to fall. That was enough to erase a double-digit deficit in the third quarter and pull ahead in the fourth.

Detroit Pistons guard Saben Lee (38) drives while guarded by Charlotte Hornets guard Terry Rozier during the first half.

The Pistons had the lead in the final minutes, but couldn’t hold on, and the Charlotte Hornets held on for a 105-102 victory on Thursday night at Spectrum Center.

Jerami Grant had 32 points, Saddiq Bey 14 points and Svi Mykhailiuk 11 points and a career-high eight assists for the Pistons (10-27).

BOX SCORE: Hornets 105, Pistons 102

In the final minutes, the Pistons didn’t have an answer for Terry Rozier, who scored 12 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter for the Hornets (18-18), who improved to 14-0 when leading after the third quarter.

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"He's a professional scorer,” coach Dwane Casey said of Rozier. “Our scouting report says that he scores most of his point in the fourth quarter.”

Rozier was dazzling in the final stretch, with a 4-point play with 3:11 remaining. Mykhailiuk answered with a 3-pointer to put the Pistons ahead by two, but the Hornets regained control with a 3-pointer by P.J. Washington (20 points and nine rebounds) and a three-point play by Rozier, for a 100-96 margin.

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Grant followed with a pair of free throws, but Rozier maintained the hot hand, with another 3-pointer, for a 103-98 lead with 54.3 seconds remaining. Delon Wright, who had missed the previous seven games because of a groin injury, scored on a reverse lay-in to trim the lead to three, but Rozier scored on another drive to push the lead back to five.

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Grant had two more free throws with 1.3 seconds left, but time ran out on the Pistons.

In the first quarter, the Pistons had a 12-9 lead in the opening four minutes, but the Hornets jumped ahead with a 12-0 run, with six points from Cody Zeller (15 points) and a drive by LaMelo Ball (seven points, five rebounds and nine assists).

The Pistons had a strong finish to the quarter, with six points by Grant and a dunk by Isaiah Stewart (seven points and eight rebounds). The Hornets pushed to their largest lead, 43-27, midway through the second quarter, with a 13-5 spurt, spearheaded by Gordon Hayward (17 points), Washington and Malik Monk.

Nine turnovers in the first half hurt the Pistons and made for a typical sloppy game with both teams coming back from the All-Star break.

“All we needed was a tent and we would have had a circus, for a little bit. Guys were diving on the floor and missing shots,” Casey said. “It was a typical (after-break) game on both sides — I thought they were rusty and we were rusty, and we missed some wide-open looks. That was the key.”

In the third quarter, the Pistons had another rally, with back-to-back 3-pointers by Wright and Bey to pull within six. They chipped away at the lead and finally erased the deficit in the final two minutes of the third quarter, with a basket by Rodney McGruder and a 3-pointer by Dennis Smith Jr. for a 72-71, but Graham’s basket with 0.3 seconds left put the Hornets back in front.

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard