Harris leads Pistons over Hornets in rare road win
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Detroit Pistons lost Andre Drummond in the first half on Tuesday night, but that only motivated them to dig deeper.
The Pistons responded without their star center and rolled to an impressive 112-89 victory over the Charlotte Hornets at the Spectrum Center, for just their second road win of the season.
Drummond was assessed a Flagrant 2 foul and ejected with 4:09 remaining in the first half, with the score tied 46-46. The Pistons went on to lead 57-54 at halftime, and then they dominated the second half and led by as many as 24 down the stretch.
"They played great," Drummond said. "We had some guys come in and hold down the fort, so as a collective group, without me they played well. Obviously it's deflating to lose a player to a tough call but they came together after the time out and pulled themselves together and came back ready to play."
The Pistons (9-10) had lost eight of their first nine road games.
Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy was a bit apologetic after the win, noting that the Hornets (10-8) were playing their fourth game in five nights while the Pistons were coming off a two-day break. But that didn't make the performance any less impressive.
"Give them their due," Van Gundy said. "Four games in five nights, that's awfully difficult in this league. I think they ran out of gas a little bit in the second half. But still, we did what we were supposed to do. It was important for us to do that, so I was happy."
Tobias Harris led the Pistons with 24 points, going 9 of 12 from the field on a night when the Pistons shot 48.9 percent from the field and hit a season-high 12 3-pointers.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Marcus Morris scored 18 apiece, Ish Smith scored 13, and Jon Leuer -- who started the second half in Drummond's absence -- had 12 points and seven rebounds.
"We came in here before the game in shoot-around and we set a bunch of goals that we needed to do to be better on the road, and we came out and pretty much crossed everything off our list that we needed to do," Harris said. "We stuck to the game plan and that was the most deserved thing about the win. It was great that everybody contributed and it was just a good way to get over a little hump for our road losses. Now it's about being consistent with it going forward."
Drummond's ejection came when he supposedly hit Charlotte's Roy Hibbert in the head while the two were battling for rebound position on what turned out to be a game-tying 3-pointer by Kemba Walker. Hibbert had clearly flopped twice earlier in the quarter, though, so many were skeptical that the contact warranted an ejection.
"We won the game, that's all that matters," Drummond said. "I don't make the rules. I just play the game. They felt like I did something maliciously, but everybody who knows me knows that's not the type of player I am. It's part of the game. He did whatever he had to do to get the call, the refs made the call, and I was escorted out."
The Pistons outscored the Hornets 55-35 in the second half.
Walker led the Hornets with 23 points. Marco Belinelli scored 11 and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 10. But the Hornets shot just 39.7 percent from the field with Frank Kaminsky going just 1 of 11 from the field for two points.
"We could make a lot of excuses, but we have to start winning at home," said Cody Zeller. "We have to start winning on the second night of back-to-backs. We just didn't do enough things to win tonight."
"There's two ways you can look at this," Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. "We can come in here and do the proverbial 'It was the schedule and it's five in seven, and they're fresh.' If you do that, you have the wrong expectations of what I think our team should be. We've done some good things to this point, but two things that are concerning are, one, we're 5-5 at home, and two, we're 1-3 on the second night of a back-to-back. If those things continue to happen, then we're certainly not going to be in a position where we want to be."
NOTES: The Hornets were without F Marvin Williams (knee) for the third straight game. ... G Reggie Jackson (knee) has yet to play for the Pistons this season, but he could return in the next week. ... The Hornets were coming off a 104-85 win at Memphis on Monday night. ... The Pistons were playing the second game of a four-game road trip. They lost at Oklahoma City 106-88 on Saturday. ... The Hornets were starting a stretch where their next six opponents all have losing records. ... The Pistons' only other road win this season came at Denver on Nov. 12. ... This game featured the two least turnover-prone teams in the NBA. The Pistons lead the league, averaging 11.5 turnovers per game, and Hornets are second at 11.7. Detroit finished with 12 turnovers, Charlotte 13. ... Hornets coach Steve Clifford was an assistant under Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy in Orlando from 2007-12. ... The Pistons will play at Boston on Wednesday night. ... The Hornets will remain home to face Dallas on Thursday.