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Pistons vs. Hornets preview: Detroit looks for bounce-back game on MLK Day showcase

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Early tip time alert.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Detroit Pistons Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons will look to bounce-back from Saturday night's last-second loss to the Bulls, as they take on the reeling Charlotte Hornets for a Martin Luther King Day showcase.

Detroit (22-19) is barely keeping their heads above water, as they wait for a major trade to be made or Reggie Jackson to return from injury. Perhaps both.

The Pistons have now slipped to 3-5 since Jackson went down with a severe ankle sprain on December 26th. Jackson could return as early as February 7 (according to the 6-8 week timetable) but would likely return some time after the All-Star break. The Pistons return to action following the break on February 23 against the Boston Celtics.

Speaking of the All-Star game, voting wraps up on Monday at 11:59 p.m. EST. If you want to see Andre Drummond or Tobias Harris in the game representing Detroit, make sure to submit your All-Star ballot via the website, or on Twitter using the hashtag #NBAVote (with the players name you're voting for).

Game Vitals

When: Monday January 15, 12:30 p.m. EST

Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit

Watch: FSN Detroit, NBA TV

Odds: Detroit -3.5

Analysis

The Charlotte Hornets (16-25) are one of the most disappointing teams so far this season. ESPN's real plus minus projected the Hornets to finish with 44 wins, good for the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference. They're on pace to finish this year with 32 wins, and are currently in 11th place in the East.

The Hornets rank 23rd in offensive rating, 12th in defensive rating, and 20th in net rating (-1.0) this season. They're led by future-Piston (*winks) Kemba Walker, who's averaging 21.8 points, 5.7 assists, and 3.4 rebounds per game while shooting 42 percent from the floor and 35 percent from three.

And while this year has certainly been underwhelming for the Hornets, it is not without any bright spots. Sixth year man, Jeremy Lamb seems to have finally found his NBA legs, as he's averaging a career best 14.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game (all career highs).

I asked Buzz Beat podcast host and Queen City Hoops contributor, Richie Randall, what the main factors are that have caused the Hornets to struggle so far this season? His response...

As Randall stated, Charlotte has shot the ball poorly. They're shooting 43.9 percent from floor (29th) and 35.3 percent from three (23rd) this year.

Nicolas Batum, who signed a 5 year/120 million dollar deal in 2016, is having arguably his worst year as a pro. Scoring, shooting percentage, assists and rebounds are all down this season compared to the past few years.

The Hornets may have underperformed at this point, but they haven't fully embraced the tank. They've won three of their last five games, and have netted wins against the Warriors and Bucks in the past month. Detroit has to keep racking up wins against the lesser teams in the league if they're going to keep this boat afloat as they wait for Jackson's return.

Projected Lineups

Detroit: Ish Smith, Avery Bradley, Reggie Bullock, Tobias Harris, Andre Drummond

Charlotte: Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Dwight Howard

Prediction

Detroit takes their frustration from Saturday's loss out on the Hornets, at home.

Detroit 103, Charlotte 96 [editor’s note: the correct prediction is 104-100]