Recap/Analysis: Hornets struggle with fouls and shooting in loss to Pistons

A balanced scoring night was highlighted by Brandon Miller’s 17 points off the bench, but the Charlotte Hornets struggled with foul trouble and outside shooting en route to a loss to the Detroit Pistons, 111-99.


The Hornets dug a hole for themselves early. They struggled with what we’ll call the Pistons defensive physicality and gave up a few early offensive rebounds. The deficit hit double figures at a couple of different points and was 11 at the end of the first.

It grew to 15 early in the second quarter. The Hornets forced some turnovers and missed shots to start to narrow the deficit, but that’s also when the foul trouble started. Nick Richards and PJ Washington got called for some odd fouls trying to match the Pistons physicality on the offensive glass. Mark Williams got called for two fouls in consecutive possessions when he struggled to get out of the way of Marvin Bagley III running into him. Still the Hornets mustered up enough stops to go into the half only trailing by seven.

The unfortunate whistles continued for the Hornets in the second half. Mark Williams departed the game after a soft whistle gave him his fourth foul, and Nick Richards followed closely behind after a moving screen that looked like most NBA screens. Still, the Hornets stayed afloat with Gordon Hayward scoring the first eight points of the quarter and PJ Washington chipping in a little bit after.

The Hornets struggled to close the gap within two possessions until midway through the fourth quarter, when Terry Rozier took over the game and scored eight straight points to pull the Hornets within three. That was as close as they would get though. The offense went cold and the Pistons went back up by double digits with an Isaiah Stewart layup with two and a half minutes to go. There were some fireworks at the end when PJ Washington got ejected for a flagrant-2 foul preventing an Isaiah Stewart dunk with 22 seconds to play.

The Good

Brandon Miller looks the part of a player that could be the best player on this team in the future. He had some dustups with Isaiah Stewart but kept his composure while showing no signs of backing down. He did good basketball stuff too. He scored 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting from the field and 2-of-4 from three. He had this big dunk when the Hornets were trying to make their fourth quarter comeback. The Hornets got a good one.

Terry Rozier struggled from deep (0-of-7), but he played well otherwise. There were a couple of times during the game where the Hornets were falling apart, and Rozier took the responsibility of getting the Hornets the buckets they badly needed when nothing else was working.

Gordon Hayward played a good if not somewhat awkward floor game. He had a blooper of a fumbled layup and had some goofy drives, but he finished with 19 points, nine rebounds four assists, and three steals.

The Bad

The Hornets struggled to put the ball in the basket. Some of that was the physicality and athleticism of Jalen Duren and Isaiah Stewart, but just as much of it was the Hornets simply missing shots around the basket. They ended up shooting just 37.5% from the field and 25.0% from three. The ball movement wasn’t nearly as crisp as it was on Wednesday, and it made for a lot more difficult shot attempts.

LaMelo Ball was just 4-of-17 from the field. He got to the free throw line 12 times, which is something we’ve been wanting to see, but he struggled to score in the run of play. He got blocked on a dunk attempt that led to a Pistons run out and layup on the other end, and that short circuited the Hornets fourth quarter comeback attempt. It’s been a slow start for the star guard, but I expect him to figure it out before long.

Mark Williams lost this round of the Williams vs Duran battle with authority. Duren finished with 14 points and 17 rebounds. Williams only played 21 minutes due to foul trouble and registered only two points and three rebounds.

We try to keep the whining about the refs to a minimum here, but it was worth pointing out in this one. The Pistons were very physical defensively and the Hornets got a few unfriendly whistles trying to match it. There was a stretch where Gordon Hayward got called for a foul on a 3-point shooter coming around a screen (the old James Harden and Nic Batum shot that never gets called anymore) then got called for a phantom push off on the other end a couple of minutes later.

What’s Next

The Hornets get the weekend off before they wrap up this homestand against the Nets on Monday.

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