The Charlotte Hornets have been known to have some slow starts this season.
Friday they opened this game at a crawl and never recovered. The Detroit Pistons ran out to a 36-24 lead at the end of the first quarter and cruised to a 112-105 victory at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The Pistons led by as many as 26 points.
Hornets point guard Kemba Walker had a 25-point first half and finished with 29. Pistons center Andre Drummond finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
The loss dropped the Hornets to 41-31. The Pistons improved to 39-34.
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The Hornets had already clinched a tiebreaker against the Pistons by winning the first two games of a three-game season series.
Three who mattered
Walker: His 6-of-8 first half from 3-point range was quite a show.
Drummond: After struggling in the first two games against the Hornets, Detroit’s center went off in the first half for 14 points and eight rebounds.
Marcus Morris: He made eight of his first 12 shots.
▪ Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy on the Hornets: “They’ve been the best team in the East for a good, long time now.”
▪ Hornets coach Steve Clifford was asked pre-game if he’s addressed the large number of players on the roster whose contracts expire after this season. Clifford said he did once, the first day of training camp, telling them players on winning teams make more money.
▪ Hornets who will be unrestricted free agents after this season include Nic Batum, Marvin Williams, Courtney Lee and Al Jefferson. Jeremy Lin becomes a free agent if he opts out of next season on his current contract.
▪ Lin was asked by New York media after the game with the Brooklyn Nets about his potential free-agency. Lin said this is no time to talk about such things with the Hornets in a playoff race.
▪ Detroit’s bench outscored the Hornets reserves 20-10 in the first half.
▪ The Hornets got back Williams, who missed the Nets game with a sprained left ankle.
▪ The Hornets are scheduled to fly home after Saturday’s game in Milwaukee, to spend Easter Sunday in Charlotte.
▪ Walker ended the first half by swishing a jump shot from 49 feet.
C OFFENSE: Aside from Walker, not a whole lot going on Friday night.
F DEFENSE: The Pistons had open shot after open shot in the first half.
C- COACHING: Surprising how flat the Hornets looked after two days off from games.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell