Detroit — Following a sweep 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.
Their lack of defense didn’t help the cause.
The Pistons’ offense didn’t make shots and the defense allowed the Hornets to shoot 51 percent from the field. That was enough for the Hornets to coast to a 113-103 victory on Sunday afternoon at Little Caesars Arena.
Reggie Bullock had 23 points and Andre Drummond 23 points and 22 rebounds — his fifth 20-20 output in 12 games — for the Pistons (6-6), who have lost three straight at home.
BOX SCORE: Hornets 113, Pistons 103
The Pistons didn’t have a defensive answer for Kemba Walker and Tony Parker, who had 24 points each 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 lead to 15 with a 9-0 run, with a 3-pointer by Nicolas Batum, three free throws from Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 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 by Bullock and three free throws, plus another Drummond putback, to make it 77-70, at the 3:10 mark. The Hornets led, 83-75, heading into the fourth quarter, and started the period 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 lead got up to 21 points.
Here are some other observations from the Pistons’ loss:
1. Bullock is back. He had his struggles from beyond the 3-point arc but he’s turned things around, going 3-of-6 in Friday’s win at Atlanta and with another solid showing Sunday. 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 Blake Griffin and Drummond in the paint.
2. 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 four 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 lead 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.
3. 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.
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 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.