Things get so much easier for the Charlotte Hornets when power forward Marvin Williams is nailing 3-pointers.
Veteran Williams almost never took 3s when he first arrived in the NBA out of North Carolina in 2005. That changed, starting in his fourth pro season, as the NBA evolved toward frontcourt players who could stretch defenses with shooting range.
Monday, against the Detroit Pistons, Williams made five of his six attempts from the 3-point arc, a big factor in the Hornets’ 118-107 victory at Little Caesars Arena.
The win improved the Hornets to 17-25, in 11th place in the Eastern Conference. They are five games behind the Pistons (22-20), who hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the East, through Monday afternoon.
Hornets-Pistons was the first of a slew of NBA games on Monday, a Martin Luther King Day tradition. Pistons forwards Tobias Harrison and Reggie Bullock scored 20 points each. Hornets center Dwight Howard finished with 21 points and 17 rebounds. Kemba Walker added 20 points and nine assists.
Three who mattered
Dwight Howard: He so rose to the challenge against a player of comparable size and rebounding prowess in Detroit’s Andre Drummond.
Tobias Harris: He made a couple of pull-up jump shots in the fourth quarter, when the Hornets were on the verge of blowing this one out.
Marvin Williams: Making 5-of-6 from 3-point range is great in a vaccum, but it also limited the Pistons’ options to play help defense.
▪ This game was the last in associate head coach Stephen Silas’ fill-in role for Steve Clifford, who took a medical leave to address severe headaches. The plan is for Clifford to coach practice Tuesday, then the home game Wednesday versus the Washington Wizards.
▪ The Hornets don’t play a lot of afternoon games (in part because they play only a handful of national television games). However, it’s pretty common for them to play a matinee on Martin Luther King Day, home or on the road.
▪ The Hornets’ next five games are at Spectrum Center – the longest home stretch of the season. The Hornets have only 13 regular-season home games in February, March and April.
▪ In his media availability Friday, Clifford extensively addressed rookie Malik Monk’s playing time, and the contributing factors, including the sprained ankle that kept Monk off the court over the summer. Monk did not play on Monday.
▪ The Hornets overcame missing 11 free throws, including three each by Dwight Howard and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
▪ After a brutal start to the season as a road team, the Hornets have now won four of their last five away from Spectrum Center.
▪ The Hornets won despite getting just 31 points from non-starters.
A OFFENSE: The Hornets scored 60 points in the lane against a solid Pistons defense, and made 10 of 22 3-point attempts.
C DEFENSE: Charlotte limited the Pistons to 11 free throws, but gave up 15 3-pointers..
B+ COACHING: Silas’ fill-in stint ends with a road victory against a team with a winning record.
Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129, @rick_bonnell